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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I have always been shy, especially when it comes to talking with girls. Though I have gotten a lot better, I have trouble maintaining eye contact. Sometimes I try to focus on a certain point to make it easier, but then I end up staring into one of their eyes and feel weird. I want to change my behavior and build my confidence so that this becomes easier.

Answer

You seem to be very motivated to change and have made some significant progress in overcoming your shyness. Your self-consciousness about maintaining eye contact may be affecting your progress. Perhaps you are trying too hard to maintain continuous eye contact. Continuous eye contact is difficult for many people. Most often, we look at someone when we are listening, and tend to intermittently maintain eye contact when we are speaking. We tend to connect, look away as we think, come back, look at the bridge of their nose, look away, come back to eye contact, etc. It is not necessary to maintain direct, eye-to-eye gaze for an entire conversation. Over time, it becomes easier to maintain contact for longer periods. Perhaps you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. You are overcoming years of shyness; be patient with yourself.

3/26/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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