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How To Get Your Shy Partner To Open Up

The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid. – Claudia Lady Bird Johnson

There are many reasons for a person’s shyness – be it real reasons or perceived ones. But the truth is you encounter shy people in your life at least once. Most people construe this shyness as arrogance or reservedness. It isn’t their fault that they’re shy; it’s just the way they are. Not everybody can be outgoing and vivacious and extroverted. Having said that, if you’re inclined on getting to open up a shy person and if you also think that that person is worth your effort, there are a few ways in which you could go about doing it.

A friendly demeanor

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Approaching a shy person with a friendly demeanor along with a smile on your face, helps in making you as non-threatening as possible. Try to maintain eye contact with the shy person. This won’t help you much, because shy people tend to look away when someone tries to make eye contact. Do it nonetheless.

It’s a safe bet to assume that shy people prefer one-on-one conversations with one person at a time rather than feel awkward and uncomfortable when confronted with a group. Meet them alone rather than going out as a group – at least initially. Introduce your friends one or two at a time. This’ll help ease their anxiety of not having to interact with a crowd of people.

Suggested read: 10 things to know when dating a shy girl

Take the lead in a conversation

Have a pleasant and well-modulated tone of voice when speaking to them; it helps in putting them at ease. They tend to relax a bit. Talk to them and not at them. Shy people seldom start a conversation. So that’s something that you have to take lead in. Asking them open-ended questions is a sure fire way of making them utter more than a few words at a time; heck, you could even get a couple of sentences for your effort! Asking them yes/no type of questions is a no no. Instead of asking, “Do you like rock and roll music?” you could ask, “What kinds of music do you like?”

It’s not just taking the lead in a conversation that counts, but allowing them enough time to formulate their answer is also very important. They tend to be sensitive and won’t appreciate you finishing their sentences or prompting them to answer soon.

Patience is virtue

couple on a date_New_Love_Times

Image source: Shutterstock

You won’t become a shy person’s best friend in one meeting. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to talk. It takes time for them to get to know you and feel comfortable opening up to you. But they eventually do open up like a bud opening up to become a flower in bloom. It pays to be patient with them. In fact, you’d be surprised how much they can babble on once you get them to talk; you might even start thinking of ways to shut them up!

After a couple of meetings where you’ve got a glimpse of their personality, you may give it a try broaching personal questions regarding their family and other likes and dislikes. This gives you fodder for future conversations. If you’ve succeeded in getting to know their likes and dislikes, then you can steer the conversation towards the topics that they feel comfortable speaking about.

Listening – not hearing – to what they’re saying is a good way of getting them to open up. If they feel that you’re only present physically and are gallivanting across the universe mentally, then it’s a definite way of getting them to clam up. All your previous efforts go down the drain.

Positive feedback

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

After hearing them speak, you might want to give them positive feedback which helps in giving a boost to their self-confidence. But it has to be sincere; please try not to fake your compliments. It’s hurtful and makes them resent you.

Insincere talk and uncomfortable humor and condescending conduct are all a strict no no when it comes to shy people. They’re more sensitive than your average person and tend to get hurt or embarrassed easily. And for God’s sake, try not to behave as if they’re weak or stupid. It’s hurtful and you’ve got no right to make another person feel as if you’re somehow better than them. They’re just shy; they’re not stupid. In fact, they may be more intelligent and smarter than even you.

Vulnerability swap

shy woman on a date_New_Love_Times

Image source: Shutterstock

One way of getting a shy person to ease up on their anxiety is to tell them one of your fears – be it of spiders, or heights, or stage fright. It helps to know that they’re not the only one with a vulnerability.

Also, you can’t force them to do something they’re not comfortable doing. They’ll just retreat into their shells and resent you for putting them in – what they consider – awkward situations. It’s just plain rude to make them go through something like that.

Refrain from indulging in “harmless” teasing or joking with them – especially about their shyness. Even if your jokes are harmless, they won’t think so and won’t be shy to break up the relationship if your teasing or jokes hurt them.

Suggested read: 12 things you have to tell your partner to have a happy relationship


  • Have a friendly demeanor
  • Be patient and have tolerance
  • Being understanding of their anxiety and shyness earns you brownie points
  • Be your genuine self
  • Don’t fake your compliments
  • Refrain from teasing and jokes – even “harmless” ones
  • Remember that they’re just shy – not stupid

While keeping these in mind will definitely help you to interact with a shy person, you might also have to keep an eye out for the more subtle non-verbal and body language cues that they give out. It’s not rocket science; you can learn how to read non-verbal cues and body language signs so that you are not clueless while dealing with a shy person, especially when you’re trying to get them to open up.

And remember, they are not stupid or addled – they’re just shy.

Good luck!

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
How To Get Your Shy Partner To Open Up
Shy people are not stupid or slow. They're just shy. Here's how to help them open up to you, and possibly make them like you!
Chaitra Ramalingegowda

Chaitra Ramalingegowda

I fell in love with storytelling long before I knew what it was. Love well written stories, writing with passion, baking lip-smacking-finger-licking chocolate cakes, engaging movies, and home-cooked food. A true work-in-progress and a believer in the idiom 'all those who wander are not lost'. Twitter: @ChaitraRlg