“When I get nervous,” says a young woman named Rebecca, “I shut down. I go blank.” She sits in a circle of 20 in a dance studio on the west side of Manhattan. Everyone takes turns introducing himself, explaining what brought him out on a Saturday evening to a dating coach’s class for the socially anxious. Rebecca is a college student who is “obsessed” with the video game Zelda. She has long wavy hair and a sweet face (although she tells me later that when she gets nervous, her eyebrows pull together of their own accord and make her look angry). Despite being one of the youngest and one of the few women in the group, Rebecca quickly establishes herself among the most candid. By contrast, several other students fidget, stare at the floor, and admit nothing.
“Girls feel really comfortable around me,” one man tells me later.
Another tells me, “I used to be shy.”