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You Can Use Your Insecurity to Your Advantage
It always makes us laugh when women confide in us, "I'm so uncomfortable in a bar. My friends seem so at ease, but I can't quite figure it out." We're laughing with compassion, because we know something our female clients don't: Everyone feels uncomfortable on first walking into a social situation. That's why so many people drink too much: to take the edge off the shyness. We don't know a single woman out there who doesn't experience nights of feeling shy, or unattractive, or like the only fraud in the room who's faking it while everyone else seems to naturally understand exactly what's going on. As one of our women friends said the other night, "It's like everyone else has gotten the rule book to life, and now Amazon.com is all sold out."
Sure, some people are more comfortable than others in a social setting, but no one, and we mean no one, is comfortable going to a bar and looking for love. Going out with your friends to grab a drink? Of course. Visiting your local bartending friend to catch up? Absolutely. But there isn't a woman or man out there who walks into a public place hoping to attract attention who isn't also worried about not getting any at all, or worse, about getting the wrong kind. That someone will have the power to look into their deepest soul, and in the time it takes to finish off a beer, see everything that's wrong with them.
But here's a newsflash, and it's a comforting one: Unless you sit there rocking back and forth on your bar stool having a conversation with your invisible friend while sucking your thumb, no one is going to think you're a loser. It's not going to occur to us, because we, your bartenders, are too busy working, and it's not going to occur to the men sitting there beside you, because they're too worried about their own insecurities. Plus, there are plenty of men who are interested in shy women, who find comfort in them. As one customer told us, "A girl who looks shy and reserved in a crowded, noisy room is intriguing to me. It means she's probably watching the room like I am."
There's only one way a guy is going to pick up on your insecurity, and that's if you announce it. Which you're not going to do, because you are an adult. And as an adult in a public place, you know how to act, even if you sometimes feel unsteady. There has never been one single time that a man has approached you and you actually did throw up. Remember: Feelings aren't facts. And even at your most painfully insecure, there are still ways that you can make insecurity work to your advantage. Not to mention several easy ways to distract yourself and others from the momentary reality of how you're feeling.
A Smile's Worth a Thousand Words
Honestly. A genuine, open smile is the most attractive accessory a woman can have, especially if it's aimed in a man's direction, or he's the reason why that smile is there. Just the other night we watched this woman who walked into the bar, clearly not feeling her best. Her shoulders were slumped, and she spent a lot of time looking at the floor. One man started to talk to her and for the first few minutes, we were worried she was going to lose his attention if she didn't say a word. But then he said something to make her smile, and that smile just lit up the room. In that moment, we turned our backs because we knew the two of them would be just fine. He was pleased at being able to make her feel happy, and she forgot that she hadn't been feeling so great. She allowed herself to find pleasure in him, and in the moment, and it showed. She was able to be magnetic even when she wasn't necessarily feeling it.
We recently did a casual poll in our bar about what turned men on, other than the usual Baywatch fantasy. And every single one of the men -- every single one -- put a smile at the top of their list. If you could only begin to understand (which we hope you will soon!) how incredibly insecure men are, your emotional reaction to them in a bar, or in the world, would be so much less infused with drama. Men are constantly terrified that they're not good enough. So even if you're not sure what to say to let them know you're interested in starting or continuing a conversation, all you need to do is throw them one sweet, encouraging smile. We promise they'll be yours, even if just for the moment.
Remember: Men Like to Chase
It may be painful to be shy, but with men, shy can actually always trump sophisticated. (Sophisticated tends to be a quality men don't really understand, anyway.) Men want to approach you; they just need a signal to know it's OK. Every guy at the bar tells us all he wants is permission to say hi to the woman who seems attractive or nice -- "nice" equaling "attractive" far more often than you might imagine. If you think you could be interested in a guy, all you need to do is give him some encouragement.
You don't have to be the wit of the party. And you certainly don't need to be Dorothy Parker at the vicious roundtable. Indeed, it's our hope that you'll avoid "viciousness" at all costs.
As long as you are friendly (back to that ready smile), no man is going to be put off by the fact that you seem quiet. In fact, most will take it as a challenge to draw you out. Understand this: Whatever panic circuits are shorting out in your head, most men read shy as demure or feminine, not as terrified. And men are egocentric enough to think that you have spent your lifetime, shy person that you are, just waiting for him to come along and draw you out. Men are already scared of you just by virtue of the fact that you're a woman, so any sign of humanity -- from a spilled drink to a chink in your armor -- can be a wonderfully comforting thing for them.
For instance: Your worst nightmare from high school, told with humor, can be very reassuring for a man to hear. The fact that you don't take your every perceived fault seriously is important in creating intimacy. The ability to laugh at yourself allows for him to believe that you'll find his faults equally humorous in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way. Angelina Jolie may be one of the most beautiful women on earth, but ask most guys if they'd like to actually meet her for dinner, and we guarantee that they'd panic. The women men masturbate to may be airbrushed, but the women they love are flawed.
It's true. Whatever patina of sophistication you may be going for, chances are good it's going to be appreciated by your women friends or no one at all. Because the reality is that men love unjaded women. Our friend Liza comes across as what some might label a "man-eater." She is beautiful and sexy; she radiates intelligence and confidence, with the killer body language that goes along with that image of "perfection." In other words, she's set up to get every guy she desires. But in fact, she is alone and lonely. She sits with us at the bar some nights and washes away that loneliness with champagne. Because what we didn't mention is that in addition to all of her attributes, she is jaded and hardened. She doesn't have a sense of humor about herself. She isn't able to laugh at the fact that we're all full of bullshit, and we're just trying to do the best we can every day. Hopefully a little better than we did the day before, and that's worth cheering. But after learning that this "perfect" woman is actually shut down to any kind of joy, men don't even want to stick around for Liza's beauty. She's just too hard to seduce. What you might think of as unsophisticated and naive might actually be a positive part of you -- the part that is open to joy and possibility.
Now that we've got that straight, the next time a guy you find appealing tries to pick you up, no matter how shy the whole thing may make you, take a deep breath and try to allow him to do it, despite your nervousness. You may just be showing off one of your greatest assets. As one buddy says, "Shy women can totally be sexy in their very shyness, because they have their own form of attitude that translates like this: They may act coy and demure, but beneath it they have a secret confidence they want you to know about." See what we're saying? Men may not get women, but sometimes they don't get them in ways that only work to your advantage!
In Your Silence, You Fuel Men's Imaginations
If you find you're unable to say much about yourself at first, you can use your reserve merely by turning the attention to the guy you're talking with. All you need to do is ask the man you're talking to a couple of questions about himself so that the conversation can keep going. Since we all like to talk about ourselves, this can work out perfectly: The guy gets to chatter away about whatever it is he finds most interesting about himself, and you have a chance to take a deep breath and get your bearings.
We're going to talk later about the kinds of questions that make most men respond with the greatest ease and openness, but in general it's difficult to go wrong if you keep turning the conversation back to them. That's really the perfect party trick for even the shiest woman.
We have one customer who actually is a rock star and recently admitted to us that she's painfully shy. We couldn't believe it -- she dresses like she could give lessons in hotness, and she never radiates anything but confidence. We asked her how she manages to portray the opposite of what she's actually feeling and she said, "I just never let it get the best of me. It's always painful at the beginning, but I find that if I start to ask people questions about themselves, I forget about myself. Because I'm really interested in other people, and as they start talking about themselves, I forget about myself and how scared I am."
Copyright © 2006 by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas
You Can Use Your Insecurity to Your Advantage
Honesty with Yourself Is the Only Policy
Typecast Yourself First and No One Else Can
You Have to Know What You Want in Order to Get It
A Wingman Can Be Your Best Accessory
Dressing for Success Doesn't Mean Dressing in Less
Your Destination Informs Your Destiny
They're Called "Dream" Men for a Reason
Being Fluent in Body Language Can Ease Your Journey
Mama Was Right: Manners Matter
Listen Up -- to Yourself
To Err Is Human, to Flirt Divine
Some Signs Point to Go!
It's Never Bad to Call It a Night
A Man Can Say "No" Without Saying a Word
You Don't Need a Home Run to Win the Game
You Are the Mistress of the Bar and All You Survey
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