- Dating Someone With Social Anxiety
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating With Social Anxiety
- Do Your Research
- Do Empathize
- Don’t Forget Your Partner Knows Their Anxiety Best
- Do Learn Your Partner’s Triggers
- Don’t Think Anxious Behavior Is Directed Towards You
- Do Watch Your Language
- Don’t Sacrifice Your Needs
- Do Practice Ways to Stay Calm
- Do Remember That Your Partner Is Not Their Anxiety
- Do Get Them Help if They’re Struggling
- Understanding and Treating Social Anxiety Disorder
- Tips for tackling social situations
Dating Someone With Social Anxiety
Anxiety itself refers to intense, excessive, and persistent feelings of worry and fear about everyday situations. People with a social anxiety disorder may struggle with daily social interactions.
Symptoms of social anxiety include excessive fear of situations in which you may be judged, embarrassed, humiliated, or in which you may offend someone. many other mental illnesses, this condition can make it difficult for people to maintain relationships.
As a Pompano substance abuse treatment center that offers mental health support, we wanted to share some tips on dating someone with social anxiety to help you and your loved one have a healthy relationship.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating With Social Anxiety
Experiencing anxiety around people can feel limiting and debilitating. You may feel everyone is judging or as if you’re always uncomfortable in your own skin. Dating someone who feels this way around people can also be difficult, especially if you don’t have any experience with anxiety.
You may not have a clue about how they’re feeling or understand why they feel that way at all. Sometimes, in an attempt to make the other person feel better, we say things , “You’re overthinking,” or “Stop worrying,” which can seem dismissive and make the matter worse.
Below are a few tips on dating someone with anxiety that can guide you on how to be there for your partner.
Do Your Research
Understanding social anxiety allows you to be there for your partner. What are the symptoms of social anxiety? What triggers it? The more you learn about the condition itself, the more considerate you’ll be to the person’s reactions to social situations. Knowing the general cause of anxiety attacks also prepares you to help your partner when they feel overwhelmed.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, which means when your partner is experiencing anxiety in social situations, you should try to put yourself in their shoes.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you were terrified? That’s how they feel about social situations.
What helped you feel better that may help your partner? Keeping an open mind instead of becoming frustrated or impatient is a great way to be there for your loved one and help them feel better in situations that make them uncomfortable.
Don’t Forget Your Partner Knows Their Anxiety Best
While research is helpful, you can’t gather all of the information you need from outside sources. Many people make the mistake of using lines “I read online” or “the Internet says” to try and help their partners, but this can actually backfire.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, and within those diagnoses, each person’s experience is also unique. Your partner may have particular triggers that you’ll only learn over time and through observation. Another saying you should avoid is, “I know how you feel.
” Unless you have social anxiety, you don’t know how they feel. Even if you know someone else with this disorder, you still don’t know exactly how your partner feels. Saying so can come across as dismissive rather than supportive.
They know themselves best, so try to be understanding of things that trigger them that may otherwise seem random or inconsequential to you.
Do Learn Your Partner’s Triggers
The symptoms of social anxiety aren’t always obvious. For example, while your loved one may not feel anxious before a major event, something as simple as inviting them out to eat with some friends can spark anxiety.
Your partner may follow up several times about the time, date, location, who will be there, and other questions you may not think are relevant, but they do. They might even get nervous at the last minute and cancel. As you learn what triggers them, you’ll be better prepared to help them in situations that make them uncomfortable.
When these uncomfortable moments present themselves, check in with them and encourage them. Remind them you’re there with them, or you’re just a phone call away if they need you.
Don’t Think Anxious Behavior Is Directed Towards You
In times of anxiety, your partner may seem distracted or as if they’re ignoring you, which may make you feel uneasy. You may wonder if they’re ignoring you or if they’re upset at you. Riding on this train of thought without taking a step back to analyze the situation can cause problems.
Instead, think about the situation and why your partner would be acting that way. Maybe they received some distressing news at work, or perhaps they’re worried about an upcoming event. The best way to help a person with social anxiety is to be honest with them.
If you’re concerned and want to know if they’re okay, just ask them what’s on their mind, which prevents any overthinking or misunderstandings on your part.
Do Watch Your Language
There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illnesses social anxiety, and much of it stems from language. Harsh language, in this case, refers to saying things that are dismissive of your partner’s condition and feelings.
Some examples of things you shouldn’t say to people with anxiety include, “calm down,” “it’s not a big deal,” “why are you so anxious?” and “stop worrying.” Even if you have the best intentions, these statements can come across as dismissive.
Instead, when you don’t understand how they feel, ask them to explain if they can, and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Needs
It’s common for people who are dealing with someone who has a mental illness anxiety to sacrifice their needs and desires to help them. But doing this can create unhealthy, codependent behavior.
For example, canceling plans to soothe your partner’s stress is one thing, but it’s another to stop going to your daily workout classes because you’re worried they’ll need you.
A healthy relationship requires balance, and it’s important to keep yourself balanced to be there for your partner. Codependence often begets controlling behavior that can enable the person’s anxiety.
Do Practice Ways to Stay Calm
It’s easy to react and become stressed out when you’re dating someone with anxiety. You may feel overwhelmed when your partner becomes anxious, and this nervous energy may just bounce back between the two of you and cause problems in your relationship.
It’s important to take care of yourself as well and keep your stress in check.
Some great stress management tips include exercising daily (yoga is especially helpful) or taking walks daily, watch your favorite movie or journal, and you can even practice these things together with your partner.
Do Remember That Your Partner Is Not Their Anxiety
At the end of the day, the person you love is still there. But sometimes, they’re just buried under their anxiety and don’t know how to get out. It’s easy to forget the loving person underneath this condition.
But it’s important to remember that they are not their anxiety. Their anxiety is just an intense reaction that can overwhelm them or their partner and affect their behavior. They don’t do it on purpose, and it doesn’t mean they love you any less.
Try to practice patience and compassion with your partner.
Do Get Them Help if They’re Struggling
Many people with mental disorders make the mistake of not getting treatment. The misconceptions about mental illness often cause enough embarrassment and even shame to prevent people from seeking out support. If you see that your loved one is struggling, get them help.
An untreated mental illness may only worsen over time, making it difficult for the person to maintain their health, job, and relationships. Encourage them to seek out care our mental health treatment in Florida.
With professional help, your partner can learn valuable coping skills for anxiety.
Mental illness is often linked to substance abuse, and both categories can negatively impact a person’s health, family, and career. If you’re battling addiction or mental illness, Banyan Pompano can help. Call us now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our mental health and drug treatment in Pompano Beach.
Understanding and Treating Social Anxiety Disorder
It can also come with some uncomfortable physical symptoms: racing heart, muscle tension, blushing and sweating, or feelings of nausea or dizziness.
Those with moderate social anxiety — the most common kind — tend to avoid social situations, where they may feel awkward and nervous.
That can result in fewer friendships, fewer and less satisfying romantic relationships, and an inhibited career.
“People with social anxiety disorder also have a much higher incidence of depression, because their lives are so inhibited and isolated,” says Cohen.
People suffering from a milder form of social anxiety disorder may interact with others, but in a kind of “please don't pay attention to me” way.
“They may be quiet, polite and as pleasing as possible,” says Aziz Gazipura, a Portland, Oregon-based clinical psychologist, founder of the Center for Social Confidence and author of The Solution to Social Anxiety: Break Free From the Shyness That Holds You Back. “They basically try to become invisible in plain sight.”
There is evidence that anxiety disorders tend to run in families. If a first-degree relative — say, a parent or sibling — has an anxiety disorder, you are four to six times more ly to also have it, and at least part of that may be genetically based.
But it's also a learned behavior: There is a lot of evidence that social trauma, which tends to include things that are emotionally painful, such as a very traumatic rejection or being criticized, humiliated or bullied — sometimes in public but at least in front of another person — can be the cause of a social anxiety disorder, says Cohen.
The condition is maintained throughout life by avoiding social situations and not asserting oneself.
«If we assume that the worst-case scenario is a foregone conclusion and therefore avoid scenarios,” Hendricksen adds, “we never get a chance to learn that the worst-case scenario usually doesn't happen.»
The COVID crisis may have seemed welcome relief for many socially anxious people — no small talk at social gatherings or facing down co-workers at the Monday morning meeting.
“It's a kind of government-sanctioned avoidance,” says Cohen. “Suddenly, it isn't a bad thing, but a required thing.
” Now that restrictions are lightening up, says Cohen, it has increased social anxiety for people who are returning from a period of minimal interaction.
Research has shown that the most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), says Cohen, who notes that typically, anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of people with social anxiety disorder who undergo CBT recover.
(Look for a cognitive behavioral therapist with experience treating social anxiety disorder. Psychology Today's Find a Therapist, the APA's Psychologist Locator, and the therapist database ZenCare are good resources.
The National Social Anxiety Center has clinics around the country.)
The premise here: People living with social anxiety experience distorted thinking, including false beliefs about social situations and the negative opinions of others. They may interpret even neutral facial expressions in a negative (say, disapproving or unfriendly) way. CBT helps people develop strategies to change that negative thought process.
«[Someone] with social anxiety behavior has a voice in their head that's constantly telling them, ‘You're doing it wrong’ or, ‘It's going to go badly,’ and they treat these critical thoughts as if they're factual,” says Gazipura. “The whole idea is to change the way you talk to yourself by distinguishing between yourself and the inner critic.”
Push yourself your comfort zone by attempting things that make you a little antsy to slowly build confidence. “The idea is to build up a baseline of small wins,” says Gazipura.
For example, try to venture outside of the house every day, even if it is only to go for a walk or pick up groceries.
Stop passersby and ask them for the time or for directions — even if you know how to get where you're going.
Tips for tackling social situations
Socially anxious people tend to avoid interactions. Even when they do muster up the courage to attend a social gathering, they avoid speaking up. Here, a few tactics for making small talk.
Get your head. “Socially anxious people tend to be very much in their own heads,” says Cohen.
It may be focusing on negative, self-critical thoughts or imagining that the people they're interacting with are having critical thoughts of them.
Or they may start desperately scripting their thoughts — trying to figure out, “What do I say next? — instead of actually listening to what the other person is saying.
The irony is, when we're overly concerned about how we're coming off, we're going to come off less well because we're distracted, says Cohen. Be curious and ask questions. The secret to a good conversation is to make the other person feel interesting.
«And if you're the one speaking,” Cohen adds, “get absorbed in what you're saying as opposed to critiquing how you're coming across.»
Elaborate (a little). Socially anxious people don't to have attention focused on them, because they're afraid it increases their chances of making a bad impression — maybe by putting their foot in their mouth or saying something dumb. When socially anxious people do make a comment, they tend to be very brief. That makes it hard for other people to engage in the conversation.
It also creates a vicious cycle, says Cohen: “A social anxious person sees that the conversation is not going well and thinks it's because they're a bad conversationalist — when it's actually because they're saying too little, which makes it hard to connect with them.” His advice is to say everything in three sentences, not three words.
If someone asks where you're from, don't just answer, “Lancaster, Pennsylvania.” Add a couple sentences about where you live. For instance: “Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We moved there three years ago, and it's lovely. But I've lived in a big city for most of my life, so it's taken a while to get used to the slower pace.
” This greatly increases the chances that someone will connect with what you're saying.
Know how to start and end a conversation. This can be the trickiest part. When it comes to beginning a conversation, the fear can be that the person isn't all that interested in talking to you.
When ending a conversation, you may be afraid you'll cut things off awkwardly or somehow hurt the other person's feelings. Don't overthink things, advises Cohen.
Show interest in the person by kicking things off with a question, such as, “How do you know the host?” or, “Who do you know here?” To bring things to a close, politely say, “I really enjoyed talking with you — I hope to see you later. Enjoy the rest of the party.”
Another crafty way to cut things off while looking super-considerate: Simply say, “I'll let you go,” a polite acknowledgment that you'd love nothing more than to hear all about the other person's grandkids but don't want to deprive the other guests of hearing their entertaining stories.