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At 28, still a virgin and no girlfriend

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Dear Bunmi,

I’m a 28-year-old man and have not had any sexual experience at all. I’m a graduate and have a good social life with great friends, both male and female. But finding a girlfriend seems impossible. Going over to women I don’t know and trying to chat them up seems both scary and embarrassing.

What are you meant to talk about? I have managed to ask girls out a few times in the past, but I’ve always met with polite rejection. My friends are always very supportive. They say things like; “You are a nice guy, everyone loves you,” and “I know you’re shy, but you’ll find somebody.”

It’s nice to hear these things, but I’m not sure they understand how difficult a task this is for me. I’m quite fond of a friend of my best mate.

She and I have similar interests and I liked her as soon as I met her. All my friends picked up on this and I’m getting encouraged a lot to ask her out, but it seems too daunting.

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I get nervous whenever she’s around and she probably thinks I’m a bit weird. I wish I knew the right way to do this. Do you think shy people find love? Will it ever get easier?

Banji, Bye-mail.

Dear Banji,

I suspect most of the people reading this would be itching to match you up with hundreds of women who’ll be wishing they could meet someone like you. I agree with your friends – you sound adorable, and I assure you that shy people find love! Shyness is very common and something lots of people struggle with.

We’re all pretending to be more confident than we are. So don’t be fooled. You do have experience in relationships. You have great friends and romantic relationships aren’t that different. Now, on to that friend of your best mate who you fancy; but even if it doesn’t work out, you can use the same techniques on other potential girlfriends.

Have your friends done their bit to find out whether this girl fancies you back? If they haven’t, get them to ask if she’d be open to a date with you. So stop thinking of it as trying to chat her up. Instead aim to simply try to get to know her as a friend. Ask her all the questions you ask your friends. It doesn’t have to be anything extra-ordinary.

The biggest mistake shy men (and the not so shy, too) make is that they think they have to “chat women up.” Women like men that make conversation and show interest in them. The next time you see her, aim to say one or two things. It might be as simple as pleasant commentaries on mutual friends. Just aim to break the ice.

The next time, it will be easier to strike up a conversation. Once you’re in the habit of chatting as friends, ask her if she’s seen a film you’d like to see. If she says no, ask her if she fancies seeing it with you. Yes, you’ll be nervous. Yes, she might say no. If she does, just consider it a good learning exercise and move on. But don’t lose heart. You sound like such a great person.

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