• Making Friends

Making Friends When You Are Shy

Published: April 9, 2013 | Last Updated: September 3, 2021 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
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Making friends when you are shy can be difficult. Dr. Tina Tessina offers some strategies to overcome shyness.

Feeling shy can make it difficult to meet new people and make friends. Shyness may simply indicate a quiet sensibility, may stem from feeling awkward and not knowing what to do, or perhaps reflect lack of a good self-image.

You might feel shy if you want to talk to someone and you habitually can’t figure out what to say, how to begin a conversation, or feel a sense of panic, paralysis or hopelessness about dealing with other people.

If you’re among friends, yet have trouble joining in and keeping up a conversation, you’re not enjoying your friends as much as you could.

If you’d like to get to know someone new, but can’t figure out how to introduce yourself and begin a conversation, shyness may be preventing you from finding love and friendship.

You can approach conquering shyness in several ways:

Through practice

Start small, with one understanding and kind friend, learning to carry on a conversation. Begin speaking up in safe places, such as your familiar church or among a group of close friends.


Pay attention to what goes on in your “inner conversation” when you want to speak up. Are you saying negative and critical things about yourself? Is this the source of your shyness? Ask yourself your own opinion frequently, so you’ll know what it is, and eventually can come up with it on the spot, in a conversational setting.

Through education and experience

Groups such as Toastmasters can teach you how to speak publicly, give presentations and work and speak to groups of people in general. Adult Children of Alcoholics can help you heal wounds from a dysfunctional family. Social Etiquette classes can help you acquire the social skills to help you feel more confident with people.

Through therapy

Shyness can be the result of low self-esteem, feeling that you’re somehow not worth others’ kind attention, or fear that you’ll be criticized. This can be the result of being subjected to criticism as a child, which wounded you emotionally. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Therapy are very helpful for these problems.

Shy people can learn how to be relaxed and open around others; how to enjoy getting to know new people, and how to present the best side of themselves to new friends.

About the Author

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in southern California with over more than 30 years experience counseling individuals and couples. She has authored 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley); and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. 

She is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for LoveFilter.com, a relationships website and she publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog.” Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at DivineCaroline,  SelfGrowth.com and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News. 

She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina and http://www.facebook.com/DrRomanceBlog.

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about shyness and social anxiety:

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS, Shyness and introversion

Comments (3)

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  1. Timberleigh says:

    I know this girl in my class but I am to shy to say hello I cant even look her in the eye?

  2. Bethade says:

    Very basic, but good advice. It’s a good place to start: but there’s shyness and then Avoidance. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start, and lack of social adeptness can be crippling for many. I would strongly recommend (if its affordable) getting evaluated about chronic shyness if possible. The earlier the better in ones life.

  3. Sheryl says:

    Very smart suggestions for anyone, really, but especially those who are shy.

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