Asking for a friend: ‘I’m really shy and don’t know how to communicate in intimate relationships. Will I be single forever?’

'Putting on an act and not letting our partner see the real us is a recipe for disaster in a relationship'

Caroline West

I am really shy, and it’s something I have struggled with for ages, which has meant I have had few relationships, all of them short-lived. I know I need to learn how to communicate in relationships, but I have just become so terrified, and the longer it goes on, the more anxious I feel. I sometimes think I will be single forever, which just makes me feel so awful. I would love to be in a committed, long-term relationship more than anything, but this is standing in my way. I found college really hard and didn’t come out of my shell. I think I missed my chance to get over this. The rest of my family don’t have this issue and my siblings are all in happy relationships. I don’t know why I am the different one, and it makes me want to avoid family gatherings because I’m the only single one. They used to make jokes about it but now don’t mention it, which almost makes me feel worse. I’m turning 30 next year — should I just resign myself to being single forever?