If you and your boyfriend are struggling to be comfortable with each other -- take heart. Shyness during adolescence is common, and is often a learned behavior that can be unlearned, suggests Indiana University Southeast's Shyness Research Institute. Shy teens in a relationship may face more hurdles than outgoing classmates, but they may also share a deeper understanding and connection.
Shyness Is Normal
Shyness peaks around age 14, according to psychology professor Jonathan Cheek and psychotherapist and social work professor Katherine Tyson, in the "Encyclopedia of Human Relationships," with two-thirds of girls and more than half of boys admitting to shyness at this age. Fortunately, for those who become shy as teenagers, about half will no longer feel shy by age 21. The teenage years involve many changes that can trigger shyness including puberty and first dating experiences. Just knowing that shyness is common and changeable may help you relax and open up more. As Cheek and Tyson note, the opposite of shyness is social self-confidence, not extroversion. You don't need to change your personalities to outgrow shyness, but rather become more confident with dating.
Try to Relax
If you suffer with physical symptoms of shyness or anxiety such as a racing heart, shaking hands or feeling nauseous, help relieve these symptoms using relaxation strategies. For example, take deep breaths from the abdomen while alternating between tensing and relaxing muscles as part of preparation for a date. Use visual imagery to imagine a successful evening in which shyness doesn't interfere with conversation or affection.
Change Your Thoughts
Shy teens often engage in negative automatic thoughts -- those things that you tell yourself that make your shyness and anxiety worse. Those who are shy can work to change negative thinking patterns to help alleviate shyness. For example, a shy girl might feel self-conscious during a date, worry that her boyfriend feels she is boring and think that he must want the evening to end -- these thoughts are unhelpful. However, setting up unrealistic standards will only cause feelings of failure. Instead, focus on small successes in your relationship. Perhaps you told a funny joke that made both of you laugh. Maybe the two of you found a new common interest that extended the conversation a little longer. You might have felt less shy about showing affection. Feel good within yourself about the small steps that you take in the relationship.
Shy teens tend to focus too much on themselves and less on the world around them. In a relationship, a shy teen boy and girl may each be obsessed with their own thoughts and worries and forget to pay attention to the other person. Focus on the other person by listening carefully, paying attention to body language and ignoring your own internal dialogue, recommends social and personality psychologist Jeremy Nicholson, in a "Psychology Today" online article. Make this easier by trying to learn something new from your partner, doing fun and spontaneous things together and being less serious and more flirtatious. If things really seem stalled at the gate, move the conversation online, suggest Cheek and Tyson. When shy people converse online, they feel less inhibited and more able to talk freely, which might be all that you need to get beyond feeling shy and self-conscious with each other.
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