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I grew up in a family where most of us are girls. I have a sister and a little brother. My Dad started working abroad when I was 7 years old and only comes home once a year. We communicated most at the time through internet. Whenever there's a family gathering, I always bond with my girl cousins and aunts. There are few men in the family but they are way too old so it's either they're always busy with their work or too old for me to get close to.

To cut the story short, I've been around girls all my life- probably the reason why I am like this now. I'm not comfortable around boys. I don't really know how to interact with them. At school, whenever a boy classmate tried approach me I get my tongue tied up and start to sweat bullets. I get so nervous and don't know what to do. I'm suddenly shy around them even though I'm not shy around girls.

I tried hanging with my best friend and her male friends as an attempt to get comfortable but all I did was just listen to them talking. When they tried to talk to me I only gave them short answers and I didn't know why. I am not like that with girls.

I am turning 20 this year and this feeling is bothering me so much. I can't live like this. I want to get comfortable around them but I don't know how.

How can I improve my interpersonal skills around boys?

closed as too broad by Ælis, avazula, Tinkeringbell Mar 15 at 11:53

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Hi desteen! This question right now seems incredibly broad, as Interpersonal Skills are a huge set of behaviours you use in your interactions with people, to achieve some kind of goal. Also, this seems to be more of an intrapersonal issue: discomfort arount boys is something that happens within you (instead of between two or more people, which is what interpersonal stands for), and while it may reflect back in your behaviour when around them, we can't really fix the discomfort. Can you better describe which Interpersonal Skill you're struggling with here? – Tinkeringbell Mar 15 at 11:52
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I tried hanging with my best friend and her boy friends as an attempt to get comfortable but all I did was just listen to them talking.

I think this is a really important step to take. Just listening is perfectly fine, in fact I'd go as far to say it's normal for your situation.

You really don't know much about boys, so naturally you're going to be cautious and try to learn their behavior simply by observation. This is super important and one of the first steps you take!

Don't worry about not talking at first or even for awhile. Let yourself acclimate and get comfortable just being around them. It'll take time, don't worry about that. Eventually you'll find yourself chiming in and gaining more confidence.

Stick with a female friend as you've tried before, I think given more time you'll be able to figure things out. :)

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In many ways, I'm still not comfortable around boys, but that's OK; I'm a guy, so I can talk from the other perspective. I've helped a number of women get to be more comfortable talking to men, and I've also had the flip side experience of getting comfortable talking to women.

Keep in mind through this whole process, whenever you're involving others, it's important to keep others appropriately informed of where you are on this process and what your intentions with them specifically are. Different people are different, which means we all have difficulty communicating with some other people, even those who speak all the same languages as we do, so somebody will probably get their feelings hurt. But by doing your best to communicate where you're at in this process and what your goals are, you reduce your risk of hurting others, and maximize your chances of keeping communication lines open when it does happen, leading to quicker resolutions.

first steps

  • Hanging around people like your best friend while they hang around guys is a good step one. So far, you're doing pretty well. Maybe you feel like you're a bit behind, but apart from a few special cases, I wasn't comfortable talking with women until I was significantly older.

  • Another good first or early step is to talk with guys online. At this stage, you don't have any long term goals with the individuals you're talking to, you just want to get familiar with it. While it may feel odd to do it, pretending to be a guy for this might make things a bit easier/less awkward. When I was first doing this, I felt nervous about it because there was so much I didn't know about how to be a woman, I felt like I couldn't possibly pull it off online.

    Except here's the thing: for most online interaction (i.e. outside of an interactive audio or video environment), you can just choose to not talk about anything that would give you away. Also, different people are different, different schools are different, and so forth. Any failed interactions here are frustrating but OK, so long as nobody's hurt. You're not playing you, so anything they may say about you doesn't reflect on you.

  • If you can talk with your father... remember he's a guy, too. Presumably, one who knows you fairly well and is fairly protective of you. Talk with him, he may have some useful insights. I'm not going to suggest you ask him for any matchmaking help because there was never a time when I was at all open to any matchmaking help my mother wanted to provide. Considering the situation you described, this would probably need to be a phone call, but that should be fine. Of course, a lot of this would depend on your father. My ex father-in-law has always been useless at offering social guidance.

  • Your mother found a boy she liked enough, and also should know you fairly well. She might have some pointers for you, too. Sure, it was a very different world when she was going through getting comfortable around boys, but she's lived through all of the times between, so she may be able to translate some. Or maybe not, my mother never could. But my ex mother-in-law was able to give my ex the guidance she needed, and continued to be able to do so even through to marrying a wife of her own, which was very different of my ex mother-in-law's personal experience.

second steps

You don't have to be finished with the first steps to start the second steps. But I wouldn't have been ready to contemplate the suggestions on this list without having gained confidence from the first set. Also note that moving on to this list doesn't mean you have to stop with the first list.

  • There are really shy guys, too. Maybe your best friend and her boyfriend(s) could help find one for you to hang out with sometimes. This is still not an attempt to find a lasting relationship, but since it's in person, the stakes are admittedly higher. This doesn't need to be someone at your exact level of awkwardness, but just someone who is still a bit shy, and remembers what it was like to be very shy.

  • Babysit. Boys who are 1-14 years old are much less intimidating, especially when you're in charge. This is absolutely not a suggestion to do any more than the job entails. But once you're comfortable telling little boys what to do, and you've come to terms with many men just being big boys, the confidence you have with little boys may translate to confidence with big boys.

    This is not something I was able to do much; guys really aren't entrusted with babysitting opportunities like gals are. But many of the shy gals I've talked to have told me that this helped them a lot. They did need to have a bit of confidence to start, which is why this is a second step rather than a first step.

third steps

  • Figure out what your long term interests are in guys. This is not just a rough orientation question. Ideally, for this point, you can determine a type of guy that you would like to be friends with, but not want to be more than friends with them. Try to identify such a person, preferably who also doesn't have romantic interest in you, and start hanging out with them. It's fine to initially do this in the company of others, before migrating to doing it with just you and them. It's also fine to never migrate to doing it with just you and them.

I'm pretty sure I've missed a number of important options for you to increase your comfort dealing with boys, especially in the second and third steps sections. Hopefully, now that there's at least an incomplete answer on the Internet, someone will come by and fix it.

Past this point, you probably have more questions. Some of them may have been answered on IPS SE, and others may not have. Look for these questions before you ask them, just in case someone already did. But in any event, they're separate questions.

More than 20 years ago, when I was looking into how to get comfortable around women, most of the guides I came across ended with "ready to date". I knew enough people then to know that's not necessarily what you have in mind, so I'm not going to say that. I've since met enough people who found the person they were wanting to find and get to know while they were involved with this journey, possibly even as early as first steps.

As such, I'll just end with, be careful and good luck.

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