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Dear Lezzies Advice Column 8
for Lesbians On The Loose (LOTL)
Online Magazine in Australia:

Question: I met a woman online,
but I am scared to meet her. Any advice?

Dear Girls,

I am new to Internet dating but I am so shy I have turned to it because I am no good at interaction face to face as a single person in bars, etc. I have met a woman online and we have been IM chatting and sending pics ... it's been going really well so far - we have lots in common. It's been two weeks and she wants to meet. This means a long commute for me and I am nervous, kind of wanting things to stay as they are, at a distance. Why am I nervous, and how can I beat my shyness to make an impression in person? I recently came out of a long term relationship and since I was the one who was left, don't have a huge amount of esteem right now.


Dear Lezzies Answer:

Dear Liz,

I can empathize with what you are going through. I know this isn’t easy for you concerning your shyness and the loss of self-esteem. First, let’s answer your questions, and then we will address the things you don’t ask, or may not have thought about.

You probably answered your own question of “why am I nervous?” when you said you that you are new to the Internet, shy, and don’t feel you are good at interactions that are face-to-face--especially at bars. It’s also a long commute, you are dealing with low self-esteem, and you are recently out of a long- term relationship.

How can you beat your shyness? There are several things, such as working on facing your fears, and going forward by pushing your boundaries a little at a time. It’s also a good thing to start reminding yourself of the things that tell you that your negative thoughts are untrue. You can do this by replacing the negative thoughts that come into your head by countering each negative with three positive thoughts.

An example of a negative thought would be something like: “I’m too shy to go meet this person.” The three positive thoughts could be something like: “I’ve met so-n-so in a similar situation, and it turned out fine.” “I may be uncomfortable but I can get past this because I made it through…” “This is easier than when blankity-blank happened.”

There is a technique you can use called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, to help you dispel the shyness and low-esteem. You can download the basic technique for free from the World Center for EFT-- This will give you a do-it-yourself method that will walk you through the how-to of this technique. The other nice thing about this site is that you can sign up for the newsletter, and then have access to search the archives, so that you can look up specific issues, and see how therapists have used this technique to get someone through a specific issue.

Always remember when using this technique that it may not work for everyone, but it does work more often than not. If it doesn’t work for you, then it may be because you haven’t found the right way to approach the issue yet. An example of this is a woman I counseled who was terrified to go to court for a drunk driving charge. We found that her current fears didn’t get dealt with through EFT, because there was an issue further back. We had to go back to that incident, and have her deal with the issue that was actually causing the fear. She didn’t realize where her present fear was coming from until I asked her if she had ever been in court before. I knew to dig a bit deeper, because her present fears were out of proportion to her current situation.

If, for some reason, this technique doesn’t work for you, then it’s back to the “old fashioned” way of walking through the fears that are holding you back. You may want to consider finding social groups to get involved with, like hobby groups, art classes, a debate group or a group like Toastmasters International to help you learn to push your boundaries. These could also be outlets that help you meet someone without the pressure of it being a dating type of situation.

Now to the things you haven’t or may not have thought to ask: How long has it been since the break-up?

It may be that it is too soon after the relationship for you to begin dating again. You may need time to let your heart and soul heal before moving forward with a new venture of the heart. If we haven’t dealt with the issues from our last relationship, we tend to drag them into the new one. Therapy or a relationship support group can help with this, as well as the shyness, if you feel it is getting in the way of the life you would like. Is Internet dating safe?

I don’t know about your part of the world, but in the US there is always the potential for the Internet dating scene to not be what we think it is. People often misrepresent themselves, either intentionally or unintentionally. Always assure that you meet in public for the first few visits, and always let someone know where you are going and how long you will be gone. Give that person the contact information, including address and phone number of the person you are planning to meet in case something happens to you. You may even want to have the person you are meeting fax you a copy of her driver’s license to verify the information you are given.

The majority of long-distance relationships do not work out. Unless you have the ability to live day-by-day with someone for months or a year, you do not truly know about the person you are “dating.” How someone is on short visits, when having a long-distance relationship, doesn’t mean that this is how she really is.

The only relationship that I have seen work long distance is where a woman I know from Australia and one from the US met on-line. The woman from Australiawas able to come to the US and visit for months at a time. They eventually moved the woman from the US to Australia, and they have been together for several years now.

You won’t know if you are really a match until you can spend a lot of quality time together. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a chance. You didn’t say how far from you she lives. If it is so far that you can’t see each other except for train, bus, long distance car rides, or taking a plane, then you may want to be more careful with your heart and take it very slow while spending as much time as possible together. Anyone can lead you to believe that she is wonderful, but daily life over the long-run is the only way that will truly tell you if the woman you are dating is truly how she seems to be in her email or phone conversations.

Another problem is one that women, especially lesbians, tend to make. Many of us put so much pressure on ourselves to be in a relationship, that we look at each new person as a potential life-partner. This puts more pressure on us, as individuals, to make this new friendship into something that it may not be capable of being.

The reality is that no matter how long we may have been having a long-distance correspondence, when we first meet a woman face-to-face we really are not in a full-blown relationship; we are in the stage of getting to know each other. Don’t put pressure on yourself by believing that any new woman in your life you may be interested in has to be something other than a friendship. Look at it as an opportunity to get to know the other person. Many of the best long-term relationships started out as friends first, and this will take the pressure off of you.

NOTE: The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care professional.

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