Sometimes I want to throw this idea away. Forget Henry Cloud. Forget his How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back. I start to think I just need to suck it up and be more relaxed around men. I have one or two male friends around whom I’m almost completely comfortable. Surely that shows this is possible, and I don’t need a high falutin’ program to teach me to chill.
But then I remember who I’m dealing with: me. I’ve been accused of being the “most organized woman in the world”—a gross exaggeration that I interpreted as a compliment. I think the labels “anal” and “neurotic” are more accurate. Friends instruct me to “go with the flow,” but that’s so contrary to my nature that I can’t do it without a guidebook.
This was my realization as I entered the next phase of this experiment. After almost a month of keeping track of how many guys I met (zero to one per week) and noticing how many I had opportunity to meet (countless!), it was time to move on. And the next step was scarier than its predecessor.
It was time to meet five guys a week.
Going from zero to five in a week’s time sounded ridiculous. They had to meet the same requirements as before. They had to be new to me, have enough interaction with me to be interested and have a way to follow through.
Just because I realized they were out there did not mean I was comfortable talking to them. My competitive nature and commitment to this project got the best of me, though, and I resolved to succeed.
I got off to a slow start. I attended a three-day workshop the first week, and I assumed I could meet several guys there. But the first night I stayed near my girl friends. Day two dawned and I attempted to introduce myself to a guy, but he seemed as interested as I felt—that is to say, not at all. That scared me into keeping to myself for the rest of the evening.
I was not willing to finish the workshop without some success. (If I didn’t talk to men there, where would I?!) At the third meeting, I finally introduced myself to a guy sitting behind me and another who was sitting beside me.
You know what? It wasn’t that hard!
As I asked the guys questions about themselves, I reflected on a book I’d read the week before. Logan Likes Mary Anne is book 10 of The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. One of the babysitters (Mary Anne Spier) struggles through shyness and a crush on the new boy at school.
“I used to think, what do you say to a boy? Then I realized you can talk to a boy the same way you talk to a girl. You just have to choose your topics more carefully. Obviously, with a boy, you can’t talk about bras or cute guys you see on TV, but you can talk about school and movies and animals and sports (if you know anything about sports.)”
Silly as it seems to take advice from a fictional eighth grader, Mary Anne’s words resonated with me. And I put them to use, discussing music and classes and even the Ultimate Fighting Championship with men as they crossed my path. By the week’s end, I had met eight new guys. Yes, that’s right—I met three men more than the requirement.
Oh, but it gets better still. By Wednesday of the following week, I’d met nine new guys—and I gave myself bonus points for talking to one of the guys from the week before!
I’m afraid I might be better at this than I expected.[Carla Jean Whitley fills days of substitute teaching by reading her childhood favorites. She doesn’t imagine that would be a brilliant contribution to conversations with all the people she’s meeting.]
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