My Dr’s Orders: Hit on Men

I was terribly shy when I was a teenager. I worked on this problem and overcame it. But when I moved to the US my shyness returned in a strange form. I was fine around Russians but shy around Americans. At first I assumed that it was a language problem.

I became friends with a Russian sexologist and psychotherapist. He pointed out that I never initiated a conversation with Americans and so I realized that my shyness had returned. He prescribed an exercise for me: I had to invite a new American guy to lunch once a week.

Why guys? Maybe because he was a sexologist or maybe because my problems with self-esteem were more pronounced when I was around men. In any case, I decided to do the exercise.

To paint the full picture I need to add some relevant details. At that time I was married, although I didn’t wear a ring, and wasn’t especially interested in other men. The reason I didn’t wear a ring was that Joseph, my husband at the time, did not himself want to wear a ring. As I love symmetry in relationships more than I love rings, I didn’t wear one either.

The men I was about to invite to lunch were mere acquaintances, because I had not yet made any American friends. So although I didn’t intend to hide it, they may not have realized that I was married.

Two things surprised me in this exercise. First, it was very easy. Most people agreed to do lunch with me.

Second, every man I invited mentioned his girlfriend. This was unexpected. From my experience with Russians, I anticipated that every man would hide his involvement with someone else, even with a wife, at least for some time. At the very least, many Russian men would try to flirt.

The Americans were different. Unclear why I had invited them out, they wanted to be upfront with me from the start, just in case I was interested in them. Since that experience, I admire the way that American men come clean.

I never invited any of these guys out twice: I just needed a supply of new men for my exercise in overcoming my shyness. I wonder if they thought I was put off by their confessions. Perhaps my loss of interest in them after the first lunch confirmed their suspicions that I was attracted to them.

The sexologist’s exercise was a success. Today I have no trouble inviting someone to lunch.



  1. colorblind:

    I realize I don’t speak for all men, but I would suspect that had you actively flirted before asking the men to lunch, they may have significantly delayed mentioning the girlfriend. I would guess because they weren’t sure of the intent of you asking them to lunch, mentioning the girlfriend is a way to ease undefined sexual tensions and take the meeting outside of the set of possible romantic encounters. Why this may be particular to Americans, I’m not sure.

    On another note, the general approach definitely works. I was also VERY, VERY shy and enochlophobic (being raised by religious Midwestern farmers probably didn’t help). Because I knew of the issue, I forced myself to go to a local bar and hang out/shoot pool several times a week. Long story short, I’m a now a fairly good pool player and somewhat less afraid of crowds because of the experience.

  2. Friday Links | Vicki Boykis:

    […] Tanya on how to be less shy […]

Leave a comment