I’m actually jealous of you. You’ve got stability, a great marriage, devoted kids. You know what I have? A Sims family that keeps getting murdered.
- Elizabeth M. Lemon, 30 Rock
How does Social Anxiety affect your dating life?
What are your issues/thoughts/beliefs around it?
This is something that needs a resolution, since it brings me tremendous anxiety.
However, I’m having trouble deciphering the thoughts spinning around my brain, as well as how to concisely summarize the thoughts.
The surface-level thoughts are:
- I’m not a worthwhile person. No one would want to date me.
- It takes me six months to become even moderately comfortable around another person.
- I’m not attractive or interesting.
- I can’t meet new people.
Because this topic gives me so such anxiety I posed the question on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit to see if I can decipher my thoughts from others’ comments. Their comments will be dispersed throughout.
For me, I’ve categorized the thoughts, though there is much overlap.
I limit situations in which regular people normally interact with strangers: attending parties, going to bars, being outside without listening to headphones. My general disposition is unapproachable; I figuratively cannot count how many strangers have told me to smile.
My preferred method of communication is writing, not speaking, and speaking to people is a requirement of building a real relationship.
I just remember how guilty and ashamed my anxiety made me feel and if I needed help from someone it made it worse. I know we need support and, well, I just know what needing someone did to me. – via a fabulous Facebooker
Like this Facebooker, I isolate. Even when feeling good I require a tremendous amount of time alone, and when feeling anxious and/or depressed, that alone time (aka isolation/silent time) amplifies. How would it be fair to bring another person into that situation?
The thought being that close to another human being is so frustratingly unfamiliar and a bit scary. – via another excellent Redditor
I pretend that my mantra is “Fake it ’til you make it.” But it’s actually, “If I don’t try, then I can’t fail.”
Whether it’s building a friendship or romantic relationship, failure is part of the game. It’s impossible to be perfect all the time. The conversion rate of friends and/or partners divided by potential friends and/or partners is miserably low. Unacceptably low.
Sure, I understand that it’s impossible to have successful relationships with everyone, but when I also fear:
- looking stupid/acting stupid
- unknown situations
then fear of failure really kicks into high gear.
Fear that wow this is it. This is your life: marriage, kids, all planned out. – via my lovely friend Nan
In addition to Nan’s thoughts, there is the idea of all the new, unforeseen anxieties that may potentially arise from success. There is more to say about this, but those thoughts overlap into other categories.
The takeaway here: I have zero confidence of success on any level.
My self-esteem, self-image, sense of self-worth is nearly non-existent. Why would anyone want to date me?
- It takes me six months to be myself around people.
- I’m uncomfortably quiet.
- I’m neither interesting nor attractive.
Here’s another “If you don’t try, you can’t fail”: I dress like a small boy, don’t wear makeup, barely brush my hair – basically, I use an unkempt physical appearance as a defensive mechanism. But I also fully believe that nothing would change if I were to “try.”
too many issues, nothing worth while & I’m too much hassle – via a beautiful Facebooker
They have an unreal view of me and that I will eventually just be a disappointment. – via the most wonderful Nan
Basically, all the other categories actually live here – fear of vulnerability.
- I’m weak.
- I can’t act like a regular person.
- I shouldn’t interact in human society.
- I’m selfish and self-absorbed.
- I don’t deserve friendships or relationships.
- I’m unlikable.
- I’m unlovable.
- I’m worthless.
- I’m not real.
Again, I’m not even sure how much of the above is true. I know there is more to the story but I can’t fathom thinking those thoughts or feeling the anxiety that comes with those thoughts.
My thoughts often alternate between thinking I would like a companion and thinking that role could be filled equally well by a dog.
Plus, on a terrible level: I can’t see a future. The last half of my life has been roughly the same and I can’t imagine much of the anxious loneliness changing.
When I think “by this time next year I’ll,” or “by this time in six months I’ll”…I go blank. I get nothing. Because if nothing is going to change, what’s the point?
My apologies for the rambling, ultimately inconclusive post. Thoughts and advice appreciated!
Resources that Resonated:
- Vulnerability, the Secret to Intimacy
- Therapy Tales Research Papers section: too much great stuff to narrow down
- The Quiet Borderline – a testament to strength through tough times, standing up for oneself, and mental strength. This blog has been incredible lately.
- How Are You Treated? – How you act and present yourself is how others treat you. Solves all the issues in this post, yes?
- One Flew Over the Batcave