Recent conversations over at Bobvis and here reminded me of something that isn’t entirely on-topic for either conversation and deserves its own post.
When I was young, I did “put myself out there” insofar as I asked girls out. I didn’t do a very good job of it, but I did it. I think that it’s really bad advice to simply tell someone, young or older, only that they need to ask more girls out. Most likely that will result in a disproportionate amount of rejections and lessons learned that are either false or counterproductive.
What I didn’t realize in my younger years but was helpful as I got older is that you have to “put yourself out there” by making friends, particularly (but not necessarily) of the female variety. For someone introverted like me, that’s hard to do. It means going out in groups when you’re rather be alone. It means introducing yourself to people just for the sake of their getting to know you. Hard, painful stuff, but helpful in every walk of life. Most of the guys I know that have a lot of trouble with women either have relatively few platonic friends or they are in an insular group based around activities where males significantly outnumber females.
Costa Tsiokos posted a while back about an encounter he had with a woman where he stepped back immediately after seeing that she was married. Frankly I’ve done that myself more than once. Why waste the time and energy (which, if you’re introverted, is limited). As a commenter points out, meeting people like that is how you meet new people, some of whom are going to be single. Chances are that’s not going to happen on an isolated incident on the subway, but it is nonetheless important to try to extend your network. The easiest way to make new friends is through old friends, and one of the easiest ways to get a girlfriend or boyfriend is through a mutual acquaintance.
This sort of thing is really difficult to do while in K-8 (particularly because there is comparatively so little interaction between boys and girls), though gets a little bit less difficult in high school and even less so beyond. But for people like me it never gets easy. Thankfully, several years ago I went to a party that I did not want to go to and struck up a conversation with a brunette medical school student.