Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Wallflower Wanting to Date

DEAR NATALIE: I need some dating advice. I feel like I'm ready to start dating again but am not sure where to start. I have a job with a consistent schedule so I think it would be easy to find time to meet someone. I keep hoping I'll meet someone at yoga or through volunteering because at least then I'd know we have similar interests. A few friends of mine have met someone through Tinder. But, I don't want to be addicted to my phone. I did try Tinder once. I've tried OKCupid a number of times because I also have friends who have had good luck with that, but I didn't like it. I'm on the shy side, so I don't really like blind dates or being put on the spot.

So, I need some advice on where to go/what to do. I have been making an effort to try new things and hopefully meet new people. No such luck -- yet! Please help! -- WALLFLOWER IN THE CITY

DEAR WALLFLOWER IN THE CITY: Sounds as though you are doing everything right. You are branching out beyond the scope of work to try to meet someone by doing things that you enjoy and that put you in a social setting. You tried online dating (and saw that it wasn't for you), so you have stopped putting energy into that to focus on other things. Being shy may seem like it could be an obstacle, but use it as a positive. Your shyness could give you a bit of mystery, which is always sexy. The next time you are out, keep these ideas in mind: 1. Make eye contact. See someone you like? Take a moment to see if you get noticed. Make a connection, give a smile and see if you get a response. If you do, inch your way over. 2. At a house party? Help the host/hostess by keeping busy. It's hard to be a wallflower if you are offering light bites to friends, and it gives you a reason to talk to someone you may be interested in. 3. Try an activity out of your comfort zone. Do something besides yoga that forces interaction. I like that you volunteer, but perhaps get involved in a charitable activity that attracts different types of people that will give you the opportunity to engage with others. 4. Don't put expectations on yourself. If you go out saying, "I have to meet someone tonight," you will feel frustrated or let down and may give off anxiety vibes, which could keep potential dates at bay. 5. Date yourself. In the meantime, just enjoy being with yourself, enjoy your freedom, but keep enough space in your life for a special someone to fit in. Romance will happen naturally. Just keep an open mind and open heart.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)