and not get more involved with them than he/she is with us? So we
won't get hurt! But is it necessary to protect ourselves?
One problem with holding back is that we miss so many chances to
find a relationship. We don't approach someone or we pretend not to
care. True, we didn't get hurt, but this decision may have resulted in
our staying lonely and without another friend or a partner. Why is it so
scary to approach someone? Is it just a fear of rejection? Probably not.
Suppose the person you approached told you he/she appreciated your
interest in them but explained that he/she was involved right now in
another relationship, would you feel terribly hurt? No (disappointed
maybe). Even if he/she is less gentle and says, "I don't want to go
out," you know he/she doesn't know you well enough to judge your
total worth and attractiveness. So the rejection shouldn't mean much.
Would the person you approach feel badly? No, he/she will probably
feel a nice warm glow inside because your interest is a compliment.
If rejection shouldn't hurt us, then why are we afraid? I think there
are three basic reasons. (1) When we disclose that we need a friend or
partner, we are admitting we don't have one which is an
embarrassment. (2) Being turned down by a stranger may not mean
much but it arouses our own self-doubts and self-criticism. We
erroneously conclude "Oh, God, I'm not attractive. Others will reject
me." (3) Your "child" may become angry about being turned down and
say something like, "He/she is so stuck up!" All these unpleasant
reactions inside us may stop our reaching out, even though we are
aching for friendship. Understanding these sources of stress may help
you counter and overcome them. Accept your needs, desensitize your
fears (chapter 12), practice your social skills (chapter 13), stop the
conscious self-putdowns (chapter 14), and look for unconscious factors
(chapter 15). What are some possible hidden motives for not wanting
to meet people? "I'm not OK; they won't like me." "They aren't OK;
they are probably uninteresting clods." "I don't deserve to have friends
and be popular."
Handling the first few minutes
Zunin and Zunin (1973) claim that you commonly have about four
minutes to favorably impress someone you are meeting for the first
time. Your actions determine, in part, if you make a friend or merely
pass some time with a stranger. Several ideas about how to handle
the early stages of the initial contact are given in chapter 13 (see
social and dating skills) and several useful books are cited there.
When you speak to people--smile. It is a wonderful thing when you meet someone and
they just instinctively smile and say "I am mighty glad to know you." There is power in a
smile. It is one of the best relaxation exercises of which I know.