DEAR ABBY: I’m a 14-year-old girl who just started high school and I’d like to start dating soon. The problem is I’ve never had a close friend who was a boy, and the idea isn’t natural to me. How can I ask a boy out if I don’t even grasp the concept of being friends with one? I’m frustrated over this, especially because I really like one particular guy. The only advice I have been given is, ‘‘Get over your fear and just TALK to him.’’ This isn’t very helpful to me. I want to know how to get over my fear! Abby, your thoughts would be appreciated. — Can’t Find the Nerve in Ohio
Dear Can’t Find the Nerve: I’ll gladly share some thoughts. The first is I hope you realize how many girls and guys your age feel EXACTLY the same way you do. Social skills don’t come naturally to everyone — but they can be learned. And like any learned skill, they take practice.
The surest cure for shyness — which is the ‘‘fear’’ you are experiencing — is to forget about yourself and concentrate on the other person. Smile and introduce yourself if the guy doesn’t know you. If you share a class with him or know an activity he’s involved in, ask a question about it.
You don’t have to be brilliant or witty. Try leading off with a friendly remark or a compliment. (‘‘Nice shirt, cellphone,’’ etc.) I know very few people who don’t appreciate a compliment. Make a point of smiling and saying hello to everyone. It’s friendly, it’s welcoming. Keep in mind that the majority of people have the same insecurities you do. Many of them will respond positively because they appreciate being noticed. That’s how you make friends of both genders. If there are clubs at your school, join the ones that interest you. It’s another way of making friends of both sexes. Good luck!
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.