THE BLOG
02/23/2016 04:45 pm ET Updated Feb 23, 2017

How to Make Friends as a Shy, Gay Man

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One day in college, I walked into a classroom and left the room after two minutes because I felt painfully shy. Once I got back to my dorm room, tears flooded my eyes because I felt ashamed for being introverted. I felt awkward around others and I didn't think anyone liked me.

Students would ask me questions and sometimes I couldn't even speak because of how nervous I felt. I even had a professor asked me if English was my first language because of how shy I was. That comment made me even more introverted in my early years of college.

Being shy can be debilitating. It can prevent us from talking to people when we want to express ourselves. Shyness can also keep us from dating and finding quality men who like us back. After all, who will ever like us unless we're able to verbalize our feelings for another human being?

Shyness can feel like rocks are stuck in your throat. After all, most of us never had a formal education to cough up these rocks and say what we truly want to say. Sometimes, we can feel so ashamed of our shyness that we start to internalize feeling of not being good enough and that no one likes us.

Nothing feels worse than being in a group of people and having nothing to say. Then we think we're not worthy of having friends. This can feel like the worst feeling in the world.

Being shy can prevent us from making friends, but being shy is actually not a bad thing.

I wanted to make friends in college, but I kept thinking that my shyness would never allow me to be who I am and keep friends for the long run. After all, most of my friendships from childhood were short lived.

Not only did I want friends, I wanted close, intimate friendships that felt meaningful and trustworthy. I wanted friendships that felt good. I wanted friendships that allowed me to be shy yet feel accepted.

The thing that kept me from having friends was that I thought I had to be nice to everyone and actually be friends with everyone. That's a sure fire way to remain in superficial relationships.

If you want to make friends, you have to remember these three words:

Quality over quantity.

Relationships are not about how many friends you have on Facebook or how many parties you get invited to. Friendships are not about being friends with all of the other people in your hometown, and it's about trying to impress all of the guys at the club with your six pack abs.

As a natural introvert, I learned to use my shyness to my advantage. I use my shyness to ask questions and listen to other people. I use these skills to take an interest in other people. This is the golden key to make friends in any social situation.

Once I started taking an interest in other people, people started taking an interest in me. The mutual interest between me and others started meaningful conversations which led to coffee dates, parties, weekend trips and movie nights at my apartment.

Now I have a small group of intimate friends who text me to ask me how I'm doing and it feels awesome!

Making friends as a shy, gay man actually has nothing to do about whether or not we're interesting or good enough. All we have to do is become interested in other people. We need to have the ability to open up to new relationships and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in new social situations. It may be challenging, but no one ever said making friends is easy.

Max DuBowy is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Self Care for gay men who are ready to break from stress and anxiety. Are you ready to be confident, make friends and love yourself unconditionally? INSTANTLY DOWNLOAD A COPY OF HIS FREE GUIDE HERE.