Approaching the Woman of Your Desire: Confessions of a Reformed Shy Guy

Note from Niall: This is a guest post from Anthony Middleton of Man Vs Clock. Video interview above to supplement, full version here.

I have competed at a very high level in extremely pressured running competitions, inside stadiums with thousands of screaming spectators. As a young lad, I had to face cruel physical violence and confusing animosity from bullies on a day to day basis. I couldn’t sleep at night as a result of being painfully aware that the next day would be just another soul-destroying ‘Groundhog Day’ in a life of anxiety.

Last year I followed my dream, leaving everything and everyone I knew and booked a one-way ticket to the other side of the world with hardly any cash behind me (and almost lost it all).

Scary shit.

And not one of these events seemed to compare with the stifling fear of approaching a beautiful woman. (Although writing this soul-bearing article is quite close).

What could be so scary about a woman? The soft skin, the calming sympathetic nature and the inability to not talk during a movie?! Oh God, where do I even begin to answer that? Give me a street fight with Mike Tyson any day of the week! Well I can’t take it anymore – I’m going to discuss the elephant in the room and a taboo that still remains in society today.

A taboo that most women take for granted and a lot of men feel ashamed to admit – chatting up a girl who you fancy the pants off. I know some men have the natural ‘gift of the gab’ and have never had to worry about this. And if you’re one of these guys reading this – I loathe you and your perfection. Piss off back to your local Abercrombie & Fitch store and go and adopt a baby seal.

For us men who don’t have the natural confidence of James Dean, the looks of Mr. Beckham and the alluring charm of Casanova, the story usually goes something like this:

You see the girl and you find her absolutely gorgeous. You want to know more about her and what makes her tick. What else is underneath that pretty little shell of hers? You should probably go over and strike up a conversation with her. After all, you’re single and she looks friendly. Oh shit, she’s seen you looking at her. You hope she doesn’t think you’re a psycho – you just find her interesting.

Now she’s smiling at you and opening up her body language in a kind manner and quite possibly wants you to approach her. What an absolute bitch! Doesn’t she know what you’re going through?! Your breathing gets faster and that familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach hits you like a SWAT team breaking through the internal doors of your emotions.

The pattern repeats…and you do nothing. Now she’s getting up. Be still, my beating heart. Maybe she’s coming over to talk to you (yeah, right!) She leaves and takes your wounded pride with her. You kick yourself for yet again not even trying to get over your fear and it puts a negative spin on your day/week/life. You even think about it in bed at night and beat yourself up – just how long can you go on like this?

This pattern sadly repeats in many men’s lives all over the world. That sexy girl in the club. That pretty bookworm in the café. The smiley girl next to you on the train. Interest level at boiling point, action taken: zero.

What exactly is the problem? Are women that bad to approach? Not at all, however FYI some are just downright rude and nasty and can ruin a man in a spiteful sentence. (Contrary to popular belief, blokes have feelings, too).

But the problem isn’t the woman. The problem is with you (the man). The anxiety you feel about even talking to her is symbolic of your inner demons. You’re insecure and paralysed by the fear of rejection and it has a negative impact on your life.

How would I know? Because I was that guy for many years! I was petrified of women. My hand used to shake uncontrollably at even the thought of thinking about talking to the object of my desire. The trepidation completely took over my life and made me feel ostracised from society. I had a feeling of unworthiness when it came to the opposite sex and not only did I worry about rejection – I expected rejection!

Fast forward to many years later and people around me have said things like this:

— You’re SO natural around women!
— I wish I was as confident as you, I can’t believe you just went over to her like that – without being drunk too!
— I hate you. Just how do you seem to meet women everywhere you go?

I don’t consider myself the Don Juan DeMarco of our time and I certainly don’t claim to be one of them “pick-up artists” either. I thought ‘The Game” was a hilarious and entertaining read, but most of them types talk about manipulating and lying to women. I have never deceived a girl to get her into bed and I’ve always been faithful in a relationship. I don’t feel the need to shag every pretty girl I talk to; the sex is merely a by-product of two consenting adults who are having a good time.

What I have done is simple – but not easy. I have done something that most people living and breathing today make excuses why they can’t do it. I have simply gotten over a crippling fear. It was far from easy and I have had setbacks when I’ve been feeling low, but I will always feel empathy for a man who is struggling with meeting women.

I read Niall’s post Everything But The Girl the other week and I found myself nodding like a lunatic. I can totally relate to what he said and I feel the message was overlooked by several female commenters, which made me rather sad. I’m not sure if it’s worth trying to get women to see it from a man’s point of view, but I hope that the ladies reading this can at least try to open up their mind to how hard it is for a shy guy who just wants to act on his most basic desire after breathing and eating.

I know some girls are shy too, but the scales will always tip more in the balance of the female of the species. Men need to act and those who do not, feel like less of a man. I also know that some girls like to make the first move – but why limit your options? In the real world, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn’t fall in your lap – you have to sometimes get uncomfortable.

If I was to die tomorrow, one part of my life I could honestly say I was incredibly happy with would be meeting women. Long-term girlfriends, one night stands, holiday flings, passionate romances, a kiss with a stranger, a fun conversation with an interesting and cool girl.

It’s not about macho chest-beating. I love the company of a good woman and the fact of the matter is I wouldn’t have shared these experiences with them if I hadn’t manned up and got over my biggest fear of my life.

The ironic thing is I will never be 100% safe from slipping back into my old ways, as we are all a work in progress. If I was to become available again on the single market and seen a girl who interested me, I wouldn’t think twice about starting a conversation with her. And to the observer watching, I may come across as a confident, self-assured man, but the truth is that inside will always be the shy guy who is scared shitless of rejection. It’s important to me that I make sure I keep him at bay, as it is paramount to my personal happiness.

And as long as you don’t compromise your personal integrity, what is more important than personal happiness?

Anthony decided to ‘put a time limit on fear’ in 2010. You can visit his Personal Growth and Travel blog Man Vs. Clock where he aims to inspire readers to recognise their sleeping giant within and kick fear in the balls. (May contain naughty words).

Another note from Niall: I recommend starting with this post on Anthony’s blog.

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    1. Anthony/Niall,

      Really great honest stuff on your video. I think being authentic will always attract criticism as it makes a lot of people uncomfortable and challenges perceptions of the self.

      I watched your full video and it really resonated with me. We all struggle with things but are reluctant to talk about them or admit our failings.

      As a man (and a therapist but that doesnt give me a monopoly on personal development or mean I dont struggle because I do) I think the central reason for that is shame (which is a frightening word in itself). I wanted to recommend a book by Brene Brown if you have further interest in similar subject matter called ‘Daring Greatly’. As with most things i think the first steps are the hardest!

    2. Speaking as someone who got ice thrown at their face by the first girl they tried approaching at 12 ( Yeah, that kind of stuff would mess anyone up ) I can’t agree more with is being said here.

      Probably didn’t help I was looked after by my grandmother until I was 10 which in turn leads to me having a very unique view on things. You could say I can be half old-fashioned and half modern fashioned ( or whatever they say for that! ) Point is, it did me no good.

      I did try the whole PUA thing when I was younger, didn’t feel right for me either – I guess my personal integrity is more important that bedding any and every woman I set my eyes on.

      This even turned to rage as I highlighted in my ‘ Introducing a Skeleton ‘ post on my blog recently. I overcame that when I realized it wasn’t doing me any good.

      It’s something I still fight with but I have noticed that it IS getting easier. I feel I should use the fact I’m getting out of Ireland soon to my advantage!

      • “I did try the whole PUA thing when I was younger, didn’t feel right for me either – I guess my personal integrity is more important that bedding any and every woman I set my eyes on.”


    3. Niall limits himself to über liberal women because he refuses to spend money on clothes, shave the retarded goatee (it’s 2012 bro) or style his hair. If he’s happy with that then fine – but women are getting more and more choosy about men’s looks thanks to popular culture. Owning 4 crappy shorts and a pair of toe shoes really limits ones potential.

    4. Then there’s the shaving detour that, if not navigated with pinpoint precision, can lead to disaster. The goatee comes in many forms—the French fork, the musketeer, the Vandyke—but none are easy to pull off. The failed effort is to the face what the clip-on cell-phone holster is to the belt, and is often accompanied by electric-blue neoprene sunglass straps (perhaps the only time such an accessory is a welcome distraction). The bad goatee is worn by the guy who served you at the big-box electronics store, or by beefy men who carry clipboards that match their polo shirts. If it had a soundtrack, it would feature generic mid-nineties guitar rock.

      Read More

      • Just skimming your comments. Lost me when you started giving fashion advice. I have this personal policy where I don’t take such advice from random faceless dudes on the Internet. Appreciate you caring though 🙂

    5. This was an interesting read but I feel you should rename it – ‘Approach the women of your desire’ suggests that there will be some actionable advice given, of which there is none.

      Ironically enough the point I was most interested in was your thoughts about the pick up artists, I’m a member of one ‘pua community’ who aren’t completely about manipulating, lying, cheating or trying to nail everything that moves. Interestingly, a lot of the people there hold very similar views to those in this blog especially on personal freedom and changing your life etc. It seems as though that comment was made out of ignorance rather than experience.

      • Thanks for the comment, Zylya.

        Definitely some non-manipulative PUA’s out there. I really like Sasha Daygame and DJ Fuji. I wish the latter was every man’s introduction to the community, rather than Mystery and The Game.

        I would still say though that good morals and respect for women is very hard to find in the community. I remember asking a PUA I met in Nepal this question: “Do you actually think it’s a good idea for any girl to get involved with you?”

        He didn’t understand the question. It had never even crossed his mind to consider what might be in it for the girl. He was just looking out for himself, didn’t really care how he might affect other people.

        And I think that’s the case with the majority of guys who get into this. I’d love to be proven wrong on that, but I am speaking from my own personal experience of meeting other guys in the community and hearing what they have to say.

        • I’ve found that the good morals and respect for women problem is more of a social problem than a problem with PUAs specifically. I think the problem is that the view a lot of people see is things like Mystery’s VH1 show and The Game and they think that’s all there is. But the only reason they got mainstream attention was because they were the most outrageous ones and because that’s the commercial side of it.

          Once you hit the community side (and I’m talking one of the neutral, non-commercial fora rather than one of the ones attached to a product/instructor’s site) there’s a lot of people who are people who are genuinely focused on themselves, rather than on the tricks or tactics – none of them are likely to become break into the mainstream as PUAs because they’re more well-rounded people for whom success with women is just one aspect of their life. It’s when you get people like Mystery and the others who all live together and have made chasing women their entire lives that you end up with the manipulators because their identity and self-worth is tied up in how successful they are with women, but I don’t think it’s indicative of the majority of people in the community. It’s like when one famous politician does something bad and everyone says “Oh all politicians are evil.” Most politicians are just getting on with their jobs like anyone else would – but it’s only the most visible that create the perception of a group of people, regardless of its accuracy across the majority of that group.