The Private Man

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Addressing Social Awkwardness

Human beings are social animals. Given the conditions of our hunter/gatherer forebearers, it was vital to band together for survival and reproduction. The urge to be social continues on for most of us. There are certain skills to be successfully social, primarily, don’t make other people pissed off or uncomfortable. Even brutal and domineering dictators have to smile and make idle chit-chat in certain social situations. “Why yes, Comrade Stalin, it has been a cold winter and thanks for not having me purged. Why yes, I’d like a glass of vodka, thank you for offering.”

But social skills don’t come easy for a lot of men, primarily the younger crowd who lack good seasoning that only age and experience can bring. There’s even a DSM-IV disorder for the extreme end of social awkwardness – social anxiety disorder (link below). Social awkwardness is devastating for young men seeking out girls. Making a girl uncomfortable quickly yields the “creep” title. In the hot-house atmosphere of high school or college, the creep sobriquet is social homicide committed on the unfortunate fellow. No cool parties for him. No entry in the circle of the popular and gregarious people. The involuntary isolation inflicted on a young man who is socially awkward can result in deep psychological scars and profound resentful bitterness that can linger for decades on a man’s psyche.

When we speak of Charisma and getting close to a woman, social skills are absolutely necessary. From approach through comfort, a man must know how to communicate effectively if he is find himself in an intimate situation, maybe including a romantic relationship. Yet there is not much discussion in the Manosphere of how to grow past social awkwardness and develop good, successful social skills. Many of the guys here unfortunately take social skills for granted.ย  Worse, the socially awkward are preyed upon by slick PUA “gurus” who pitch canned systems that only work with guys who already have good social skills. It’s small wonder that many guys fail with these systems and express great anger at being effectively ripped off.

I cannot give lessons in good social skills because I was never particularly socially awkward. I can, however, point to the best free resource I know on the Internet for a man to learn how to address his social awkwardness:

Succeed Socially

I was introduced to this website years ago. It’s written by one guy who was quite socially awkward and decided to address it with masculine logic and reason. The essays and exercises are sound and can certainly work. Some of the lessons are quite basic. A younger man needs basic lessons, after all. I don’t even know who created the website. It doesn’t matter because the content is so good.

Social skills and confidence can come hand in hand, or, good social skills are built on top of an already healthy confidence sub-routine (link below). Regardless, I cannot stress enough the importance of good social skills, whether for practicing Charisma, or just being a well-rounded man.

Social Anxiety Disorder

The Confidence Sub-Routine Expanded

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43 thoughts on “Addressing Social Awkwardness

  1. Thanks for the link.

    I tend to find i go theough stages of talking to everybody, then hating everyone and wanting ti be left alone. Perhaps I can address this.

    • Richard Cranium on said:

      I am the same way and I wish I could figure out a solution. Problem is I really can’t predict it it all depends on my mood at the time and/or the level of annoyance at the people around me.

      • Exactly the same here. Perhaps we just need to relax more, and take it as it comes?

      • Richard Cranium on said:

        I also want to find a way for others to understand that there’s times I just want to be left alone and be quiet and it’s no slight to them I just need to recharge the batteries. And yes I am wound too tight and can’t relax enough. Might explain my life-long battle with insomnia.

      • Richard
        One day you might just get to the point where you just accept that others won’t understand how you feel and you’ll just have to let that be as it is. You’ll stop caring so much whether others understand your mood. It’s not your responsibility.

  2. I think I had Social Anxiety Disorder, until I found the solution: Prozac.

    My SAD probably was the reason why I was lonely and dateless through my 20’s and early 30’s, as I creeped out any girl that I approached that I found attractive.

    For those of you out there who have SAD and get nervous around women: one word: Prozac.

    • While I’m not a big fan of medication, perhaps Prozac could be a solution for some. I do know that some of those types of drugs wreak havoc with a woman’s libido so I wonder what Prozac might do to a man’s libido. It’s just a thought.

      • Yes, I think Prozac can lower libido. I think what is does is that it increases serotonin levels. I think serotonin is in balance with dopamine, and so when you are on Prozac you have less dopamine (my theory, need to check this) and dopamine-driven responses, like infatuations, crushes, and falling in love.

        Before I was on Prozac I got nervous with women I was interested and subsequently got infatuations/crushes/falling in love blah,blah, blah, and so essentially had anti-game and drove women off. Now I’m on Prozac: I dont get nervous with women, dont get crushes etc. The advantage is that Prozac has given me natural game. The disadvantage is that I cannot pair bond with my gf who is a 7 with a great personality.

        Oh well, there are worse fates I suppose.

      • Effexor. Stay away from Effexor (Venlafaxine) if you want to save your libido.

        Prozac made me feel almost *too* social, like I was losing control of myself. Looking back on the experience, I think I was simply unused to feeling happy or sociable and didn’t know how to handle it. Which is why something like cognitive therapy should be tried either before or along with medication.

  3. someguy302004 on said:

    Guys, can you fix my friend? He scares away half the women I meet at bars! He cringes and has a look of death when I’m in full conversation with groups of two or three women near us. All the effort I make to loosen him up and pull him into the conversation goes to naught.

    Needless to say, I go solo and get better results.
    Heck, I meet women when I go out with my gay friend!

    Find me another relatively alpha guy to drink with here in DC, and I might actually pay a reward. Has anyone started up an alpha wing man matching service?

    • Sounds like your friend is a decent guy who for lack of possession of the dark triad or even a modest amount of game will become a Darwinian dead-end, like me.

      Perhaps its for the best. At times I think of myself as a martyr for good intentioned social idiocy. Women dont deserve me.

      • someguy302004 on said:

        Yes. He’s a good guy, but hasn’t had a date– or even an approach in the three years that I’ve known him.

        I try to nudge him every now and again, but have given up mostly.

        Maybe I can bring a copy of The Mystery Method next time I see him.

      • P Ray on said:

        Have your guy approach broke/struggling women, or even older/divorced ones.
        You will suddenly see increasing “success”.
        Maybe the men having “social anxiety disorder” are running into women whose “bitch shields” are in full bloom (since those women have “apex fallacy”.
        By extension, most guys will be seen to have “social anxiety disorder”.
        When the men “not wanted” are berated for approaching, demonstrates women prefer a good approach to a good man.

    • Richard Cranium on said:

      Question is does your friend think he needs to change or is he happy with who he is? Does he bemoan his lack of success with women or is he just his own person and doesn’t see it. Is he actively trying to meet women or is he just tossing a wet blanket on your game by being the creepy lurker?

      Women are far more into social proofing than men are. As someone whose been on the wrong end of many brush-offs, a good number of them malicious and brutal, it took me a longtime to “get it” and that’s why I don’t bother anymore for the most part.

  4. I just turned 30 and that’s why I always say that guys over 40(older men) have better social skills than we in our 20’s and 30’s.

    I guess that’s where the experience factor factors in.

    • A few decades on the planet really does help with social skills. I have absolutely no fear talking to anyone and have really learned the subtle nuances of good communication face to face. Plus, my quips and witty retorts are solid. Yet it’s so hard to teach.

  5. Days of Broken Arrows on said:

    I have a bit of this, thanks to a childhood illness that kept me away from people during the years most of us make friends.

    FWIW, I had to take pain pills some years later and found they put me in a good mood and make everything and everyone seem just great! Problem is, they’re kind of addictive. But they do change the way I see the world and react to it.

  6. Angeline on said:

    For someguy’s friend – here’s some basics to get him started from a former debilitaingly shy person. I had to unlearn that (key word there, I learned it by being the new kid in class 13 times in 12 years of school, and being taller than everyone until the 6th grade,when they all caught up and passed me!) when I started working in restaurants and bars in college, or I wouldn’t have made a living.

    First off, shy people are generally very self-focused. It sounds perverse, but I believe this. They are in a box of their own making. They place far too much importance on what the people around them are thinking, are they grading or judging me? when the reality is the vast majority of people are a little self-conscious and nervous when meeting new eople, or at a party. Try to focus more on the people around you rather than your own discomfort. This tactic alone turned things around for my former spouse, a bright, confident guy until teenaged acne knocked his feet out from under him. I think one reason people do better and better at this as they age is, after you hit your 40s, you don’t give a shit quite as much as you did before.

    The other advice I have is to practice approaching and chatting with ALL kinds of people, not just the women you want to date. You’ll get more relaxed, you’ll learn what is appropriate regarding distance, gestures, and topics in a zero-cost envvironment. You’ll even strike out and have some assholes react negatively, and you’ll learn it’s survivable. Engage in the world around you. Find some kind of light-hearted, bantering thing to say to 10 strangers. Leave off coworkers – that’s a bigger step while you’re learning. That was the key thing for me – making my life better, making my interactions breezy and effortless, and getting to the point where I enjoy the improv of engaging the people around me – NOT just trying to get a date. You’ll get the date and *then* fail to engage if you don’t do a rehaul of how you interact with people.

    And that’s the last thing – it’s not life or death.

    Get your friend on these sites (Privateman, MMSL, Badger). The ones who seem like they’re having fun dating are the ones who emphasize making the whole man better, not just tactics to use to get laid.

    Ack battery fail … good luck to your friend.

    • Angeline on said:

      That was a rather graceless and abrupt ending – my battery went kaput – I don’t see anything wrong with men wanting sex. But as a sole fixation, it’s not going to be as effective as making your life something you enjoy.

      • P Ray on said:

        True. Players view meeting lots of women as the challenge.
        Along the way, the women grant them sex so that the women have some kind of hold over them.
        Too bad the players have had plenty of experience with women trying to play that card while the women were “defensive dating”.
        So yes, sex (with one person) as a sole fixation is not “as effective as making your life something you enjoy.”

      • Angeline on said:

        That’s not exactly what I meant. I don’t mean to downplay the actual goal of meeting women, dating them, having sex with them. Just that burning desire to do so, with no foundation of contentment and confidence in his own life, is not going to work *tactically*. The philosophical question of whether that pursuit makes him happy is his to decide, and depends on what he wants.

  7. Reader on said:

    The emphasis on social skills for men is somewhat misguided. From my observations, guys who have excellent social skills with women and are good communicators, tend to be somewhat feminine/gay. They are always seen with women, but there’s a reason for that, they’re kind of feminine themselves.

    You have to face the fact that men didn’t evolve to be female-like in terms of their social skills and communication abilities. A book called “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps” argues that men evolved to be silent and slightly aloof. This is normal for men. If it were a handicap in the reproductive game, men wouldn’t differ from women in their communication skills, but they do.

    • Angeline on said:

      There is a big jump from being functionally unable to connect with others (like the commenter’s friend above), and excellent social skills. I do what I can on the female side of the fence (moat?) to encourage, even lecture women on the need to be more appreciative of men, more reasonable, more considerate of the hurdles men face in approaching women, that different isn’t pathology. But this fellow’s problems are gender-neutral. The silent and aloof thing is fine if that’s his natural state and he’s not forced into it from fear. It clearly isn’t working for him. He, and others like him, can’t use “but other people *should* do X”, as a practical strategy.

      I read a great post by one of the manosphere bloggers just days ago, perhaps even Privateman himself, and now can’t find it, about the difference between shy and introverted and aloof. I agree with your basic point, that men are just different in how they relate, not ‘wrong’. But I don’t think the benefits of improving how you interact with other humans is limited to dating. I also think far too many shy people think shyness is a basic personality trait, like being introverted, and give up and suffer for it, when it is fixable.

  8. Layla on said:

    I have been on both sides of the spectrum so I can sympathize with shy men to a limited extent. The hesitation, the intense self-doubt, the fear, the ridicule, the regret, the dejection, the lingering twinges of embarrassment after a bad interaction. All of it is familiar to me. It’s interesting because I was confident and very popular as a teenage girl. But life had its way and I’m now a shy 20 year old. Of course, I am not asking you to feel sorry for me.ย  I do very well with men despite the fact that my eyes are glued to the floor. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just saying that my introversion makes it a little bit easier to understand and not that my problem (if we can call it that) is the same.

    This brings to my next point. I am actually against putting more pressure on men to “improve”. It’s important to encourage confidence and masculinity in men but that class has been taught maybe a 1000 times now. It’s more important to get women to appreciate just how difficult it is for men to be the initiators; to be judged, appraised and discarded as a human being in a few seconds. Day in, day out. This will sound bad but I am happy to be a woman in this respect. If I’m shy, I can play the sweet girl-next-door and men will approach me. If I’m confident, I can play the feisty grrrl and men will approach me. And, if I am somewhere in between, I can just be normal and men will _still_ approach me. That flexibility simply does not exist on the other side. How many men can literally just exist or, in fem-speak, ”be true to themselves” and have any success in dating? How many average men can write an article called “Where are all the good women?” and live to see the next minute?ย  I think you might (already?) know of this book called “Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood” and if I could, I would tape it to the forehead of every woman. It’s about a woman who lived undercover as a man for 18 months and ended up suffering a nervous breakdown as a result. It’s so so so helpful in understanding the male experience.

    “Women and men communicate differently, often on entirely different planes. But just as men have failed us, we have failed them. It has been one of our great collective female shortcomings to presume that whatever we do not perceive simply isn’t there, or that whatever is not communicated in our language is not intelligible speech.”

    – Norah Vincent.

    ^ This is one of the few quotes I could find by the author, and it sums up everything I am trying to explain in a much better way. Caveat: I am not saying I am not guilty of this behavior. I am, and there are reasons for it. Some pragmatic, some very pathetic. What I’m trying to say is that whilst men attend Charisma 101, women should be forcibly enrolled in Empathy and Acceptance Studies. If any woman finds this offensive, scroll up and witness that men are discussing Prozac in a horrifyingly casual way just to improve their Game. It is _that_ bad.

    That’s all I wanted to say! Sorry about any clumsy translating; English is not my first language! Feel free to correct the bad sentences. ๐Ÿ™‚

    – L

    • P Ray on said:

      Did you become less confident or less certain about your previous choices because of the women around you?
      ‘Cause it’s a popular thing for women to believe that “best friends agree on EVERYTHING” and some of your best friends may have just agreed that you needed to be brought down a peg.
      Many relationships between men and women are soured when the female friends add the dose of crazy into the mix. It’s called “Relational Aggression”.

      • Layla on said:

        I did not know it had an officiel name but that is exactly it! You are right. I was _very_ nervous to share anything with them because they were sharply critical of my taste in men. They would take a normal situation and spin it into my being mistreated or neglected. For example, one friend (let’s call her Zara) constantly accused my boyfriend of being “controlling” or “insecure” because he was not happy with me having many or close male friends. How could it be controlling if I agreed to it through my own free will? Do they think we are connected with a ball and chain? He makes sacrifices for me that they cannot see or maybe even refuse to see (referring back to Norah Vincent’s comment on tunnel vision). But, because the advantage to me as a woman is not immediately clear, it is just a classic case of manipulation. Ignore the little detail that we are now much closer than before! It is crazy. I am with a good man but they say he is bad. They are or were all with bad men but they will swear on their mothers’ lives that they are good. Deep down of course. Deep, deep, deep down. ๐Ÿ™‚

        But again. Female friends vary in character and this is my very small sample of idiot ex-friends. I am unaware of how typical or widespread this behaviour is. One thing I do know is that my friends are the same ones who throw the word creep around like confetti [and probably will continue to do so for as long as they are still pretty.]

        – L

    • blogster on said:

      Layla,

      Based on what I’ve seen over the years, for a female, you write with rare perception and awareness outside your own feelings and experiences.

      It’s clear most women simply do not have a clue given the mandated patterns of social interaction we have. You touch on an important point – aside from the ‘naturals’, it takes many men years of painful trial and error (never mind realising the need to caste aside the blue pill crap in our society), to develop the qualities and skills required to be attractive to women. Attraction is hard won.

      Women don’t understand this – they just observe to see if the attraction qualities are there. Not much deeper analysis or appreciation. Men have to be human ‘doings’, women just have to be. It’s the doing that takes risk, because you can always fail.

      For women it is much simpler. Being physically attractive is attractive. Aside from learning how to dress and present ones’ self the only thing that may be required is a bit of exercise, but that is merely a matter of finding a plan and sticking to it. No painful rejections, no sharp learning curves, no requirement to understand seemly contradictory psychology etc. Men’s responses are linear, simple and immediate.

      It is easy to see how women develop superiority complexes over an attraction they didn’t earn. On the rare occasions I have had women try to initiate, it’s telling how awkward and uncomfortable they are – even the quite attractive ones – they haven’t a clue because they’ve rarely had to step out there.

      • Layla on said:

        Yes, I agree. It’s frustrating to hear people say that we should just “be confident”. You cannot just become sociable overnight; it is impossible. Only the most hardened men, or just people, can survive an adolescence of rejection for the flimsiest of reasons. Surprise surprise. These are the men who become incapable of bonding, of trusting, and leave behind a trail of broken hearts. And even if you manage to climb out of the abyss intact, who is to say that it was even worth it in the first place? Who is to say that your effort will be noted, much less appreciated? I am currently doing the “talk to random strangers” routine myself so I can regain my old confidence. It IS hard. Quite often, I’ll chicken out and walk the other way, feeling absolutely defeated by my inability to function like a normal human being. But, for me, it is really just a game. A lazy one too. Against the computer, on the easiest level and with the other controller unplugged. I can just press reset and pretend it never happened. There is also an expansive support network waiting for me should I need catharsis. Girlfriends, male friends, family, strangers. Even Ben and Jerry will get involved at some point. Men usually have a choice between man up and man the fuck up.

        This is why it is so offensive to see feminists accuse Game of being misogynistic (misogynist?) at the core. In most cases, it is just normal men building bridges and reaching out to interact with women in the manner that they prefer. The hateful ones were going to be hateful with or without the movement! And, once these bridges are built, men can invite women to cross over. So it has nothing to do with taking female agency, as they claim, because it is voluntary. The outrage is really at having to be equal.

        I do not understand myself. How did I go on such a tangent.

        – L

    • Wow, Layla. That was so insightful – and at such a young age! – that I was having doubts that you were for real, that your comment might really have been written by a guy pretending to be a girl named Layla.

      And introversion should not be seen as some sort of problem. It’s just a personality trait, neither good nor bad. And it’s not necessarily the same thing as shyness. In fact, outside the West, introversion is seen as an attractive trait.

  9. blogster on said:

    @ Layla

    But I again commend you for recognising it for what it is – both for yourself and generally.

    As someone with experience in dealing with anxiety, I can tell you how important it is to address. I don’t know if you are using any particular method, but I would recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy style of dealing with the issue.

    Successful social interaction for shys/introverts has 3 elements – reducing the anxiety, understanding your natural personal temperament and developing the skill set. However, you can’t develop the skill set and make the most of your natural personality without moving the anxiety out, because it creates ‘avoidance’ behaviour.

    I did my research before seeking any professional help. I ‘interviewed’ four therapists – something which took them by surprise, since they are so used to having the drivers seat, and found the best therapist and approach to get RESULTS.

    CBT is practically oriented, rather than continually talking about your feelings, blah, blah, blah which some therapists were seemingly more interested in (funny how that approach also lines their pockets with more money).

    It is based on establishing a hierarchy of anxiety provoking situations and working through them methodically from least anxiety provoking to highest through GRADUAL exposure – only moving to the next level when you feel the anxiety significantly diminish. It also teaches you to become more self aware and recognise the thought processes and ‘flight or fight responses’ and how to deal with them. For me, it started with being able to order a cup of coffee without being self conscious.

    I would only go once a month/once every two months, being set tasks the previous session and then have the time in between to practice, practice, practice and monitor the outcomes, my anxiety levels and reflect. After so many practices, you don’t even realise you are doing it and often just through repeated exposure the anxiety situation becomes so ‘boring’, it completely reduces. Of course your social skills and the outcomes they deliver also play a part in your progress.

    Career wise, I am now more around senior management so it does from time to time crop up, so I always try to go back to basics when required.

    Good luck.

    • I have practiced CBT (uh, I mean Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; since CBT could also stand for “computer based training” or “c0ck & bal! t0rture”). It is useful. And if, like me, you still find your emotional state hindering you, you could try a Mindfulness approach, which teaches you how to just let your feelings be, and paradoxically overcome them. For me, the cognitive therapy didn’t really kick in till I started practicing mindfulness meditation. Look up Jon Kabat-Zinn if you’re interested.

  10. Of almost 300 blog posts and thousands of comments, this post has resulted in some of the most thoughtful and positive comments I have ever read here. This is a very good thing and is encouraging.

  11. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Week of May 13, 2012

  12. I agree with TPM. I rarely comment over here, but I must do it now, to thank you all for this conversation. Seeing women have this level of conversation is also refreshing. Thank you all.

  13. Kirk on said:

    I tried CBT for 5 months to no avail. Anxiolytics put me to sleep. Pot makes me more social, but carries legal risks. Prozac has helped clear my mind of self-deprecating thoughts, but it has yet to alleviate my social awkwardness. Am I hopeless?

    • blogster on said:

      what ever you do, it will take time. for many people it is the case of unlearning life time habits. while you can change your eating habits in 21 days, navigating the complex, multi-layered and multi-ruled social skill set takes longer – as i said above, it is not merely sticking to a simple diet plan and having sufficient will power.

      As Donald Rumsfeld said – there are known unknowns, unknown unknowns etc. As you go, you will realise stuff about socialisation you couldn’t see before – but that you gained from actual experience. As you continue, previous unknown unknown’s become known known’s. Over time you will see your known unknowns expand, then over time convert to known known’s (competency).

      One thing is, in re-learning social skills you need to be strategic, have a plan and be realistic. Start with the end point states in mind. What outcomes do you desire for yourself? Work backwards with intermediate targets and break these down into building blocks – establish a hierarchy.

      You have to realise that it is a progression from your present state to normal functioning, to competency and then to sophistication. But realise that as you develop, their will be tipping points where your growth accelerates. Then plateaus, then more acceleration. Don’t expect linear progress.

      You will move from conscious incompetence, to conscious competence, then to unconscious competence, over time, for each skill set. There will be many little victories and setbacks along the way.

      Depending on where you’re currently at – it could take years. I know it has for me. But in the big picture of life, its not much. Also be realistic – just as we can all improve our physique but never be a superstar athlete, same for socialisation.

  14. someguy302004 on said:

    My friend tried to casually approach a law clerk/ intern on Capitol Hill last week, apparently.. She gave him a bitchy retort and then ignored him.

    Not only was she apparently out of his league, he could never afford her– he said that her watch had to be worth more than his car, by the looks of it.

    I wish there was a dating site for wingmen here in DC, because I need a drinking buddy who is at least approaching alpha. going out with him is like having a ball and chain attached to me. His glumness and fear just kills any approach that do near him.

    Guess I’ll stick to solo bookstore/coffee shop day game and ok Cupid

  15. Pingback: Good vs. Nice | flirtyintrovert

  16. For those of you who feel frustrated because of social awkwardness and think that “women won’t give you a chance” because of it, keep in mind a lot of women are very socially awkward too. Throughout school girls may look like they all get along so great but the truth is women are simply less physical in their aggression. I think in some ways women are more aggressive than men. Those women who are socially awkward may not even pick up that you’re interested. What do you do? Don’t be afraid to mention being a social klutz.. Chances are you have that in common, and mentioning it may let you get past it.

  17. Has anyone here ever had a chick call them (and their moves awkward) while on a date? I’m not sure whether i should consider her insensitive for it or not. I had already hinted that i was nervous and inexperienced.

  18. crystal on said:

    okay I like a socially awkward man, he is kind and smart but seems socially impaired with women, how to I get him to open up to me without talking his ear off, he is a electrical engineer, 37 and has had only one girlfriend after college. I met him in church and he deals with electric stage and sound from the balcony during services. I want to get to know him better, any advice? from anyone

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