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How to prevent shyness from getting in the way of your relationships


Jacob Lund I Shutterstock

Mathilde De Robien - published on 10/17/21

Being shy may be hiding a very beautiful person, but you can learn to express yourself, according to one expert.

“Shyness is the prison of the heart,” says a Spanish proverb. Indeed, intense shyness can prevent you from expressing yourself. People feel the effects of shyness in their bodies: heart palpitations, sweating, blushing, trembling … Some don’t dare look the person they’re talking to in the eye. Others satisfy themselves with terse sentences. How can we have a tranquil relationship under these conditions?

Shyness can also be an obstacle to a romantic relationship—one that seems insurmountable and renders sterile any effort to draw near someone else. According to Bénédicte Lucereau, a marriage and family counselor, the good news is that as long as we are working on overcoming our shyness, we can still create fulfilling and balanced relationships.

A way of hiding

“Shyness is a way of hiding, of veiling oneself,” explains Bénédicte Lucereau. It’s an obstacle to romance insofar as it prevents fluent communication and thus mutual knowledge. It often disconcerts other people who try to initiate contact. Others may get the impression that the relationship rests solely on their shoulders, that it’s always up to them to speak, to ask questions, to start the conversation again. This is an unbalanced relationship, which ends up weighing more on one person than the other.

“This is a pity, because the shyness is probably hiding a very beautiful person,” says Lucereau.

That’s why it’s a good idea to dig into the reasons for your shyness. Why am I so shy? Where does this come from?What makes me feel threatened? Bénédicte Lucereau also invites shy people to identify an event in their past that makes them feel small. Very often, they have a poor self-image, and they don’t feel “likeable,” sometimes because of a difficult past. However, “this self-image is not well-founded, and self-esteem can be worked on,” he says.

Set small goals

How can somebody overcome shyness? In therapy, Lucereau uses a technique that can be called “the technique of small goals.” Before tackling the shyness specific to the beginning of a relationship, it’s good to identify everyday situations where you experience shyness. This could be at the bakery or corner store (where you don’t dare look at the attendant in the face), while trying to park (especially without disturbing the traffic), or with your own mother (with whom you’re afraid to have a frank discussion). There are many small goals you can work on, the success of which allows you to gain self-confidence.

“Everything that is emotional has an impact on our emotional life,” explains Lucereau. Consequently, succeeding in overcoming these small fears in our daily life has an impact on the way we relate to others, and even more intensely when it comes to a romantic relationship.

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