I understand what it is like to be new to the group and a shy person. There really is no way to “ease” into the situation, other than to just suck it up and every experience is a new one. Having 1 dinner and deciding that they have nothing in common with you and writing it off is not enough information or experience to go off of is only going to hurt YOU in the longrun.
I KNOW it is tough, but you really need to give it a few more shots before you decide whether or not this is a group of people you can connect with. Making friends isn’t always easy, and if they’re inviting you out– they’re essentially saying that they DO want to hang out with y’all, they DO want to get to know you better and so far, they like what they see! That is half of the battle right there!
I say to give it a few more shots– initiate a small portion of the conversation. Just pick a topic and ask one or all of them at some point. Breaking into a conversation like that may seem hard, but I have a few go to questions I have used when doing this:
-“So, are you all from here originally?”
-” Do you and ____( DH/SO) have big plans coming up around the holidays? Any new vacations scheduled?” If you already know a few small tidbits about them ( new parents, new homeowners, wine enthusiasts, sports lovers, etc) just lead with a simple question. ” How is the new house coming along?”, “Do y’all have any plans of trying to see a Patriots game this year?”, ” How is the new puppy?”. It doesn’t have to be ground breaking, thought provoking questions– just enough to get your foot in the door of their conversations. I know it can feel silly to ask ” basic” questions in a group– especially if they all know each other and the others already know the answers… but it shows that you care to get to know them.
Trust me– no one ever thinks, ” wow– that girl sure was an ass because she tried to get to know me!”
Good luck– I know that it is really, really tough trying to break into a new friend group. I would give them some more chances before just bowing out.
ETA: next time you do hang out, pre-pick 3 questions to ask throughout the night or event and make it your personal goal to find out that information. It makes you feel more prepared. If you can’t think of anything, just be sure to ask plenty of follow up questions to conversations they initiate. “Why do y’all enjoy Spain so much?”, “Have you travelled to other countries?”, ” Which ones?”, “Where is a place you’d like to go that you’ve never been?”— those type of follow ups and they may ask you in return, ” have you been to Spain?” If the answer is no— don’t just say “no”.. say, ” No, but I would really like to travel more ( if that is true), where is your favorite vacation spot?”. Have an open dialogue in your head before meeting up with them of possible scenarios.
I know it seems totally whacky– but I am extremely shy at times, too… and doing these mental exercises really helped me become more socially graceful and not feel so out of place!