Updated: Mar 29
Are you holding back from meeting your special someone because you fear you might say or do something to embarrass yourself and then be rejected or judged? This is a very common fear among individuals struggling with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder affects an individuals confidence and comfort in social settings. Typically individuals with social anxiety fear they will act or behave in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating and they will ultimately be rejected. These irrational beliefs can greatly impact an individual's life. It might make it difficult for the individual to go to work, be around friends and family, or date.
Exactly How can Social Anxiety Affect Dating?
Since social anxiety makes individuals feel they will be embarrassed and then rejected by the people around them, many individual will simply avoid social situations all together. Obviously this makes dating much more difficult. How is the individual supposed to meet that special someone if they are not leaving their home? The irrational fears from the anxiety are so strong that it seems better for the individual to simply avoid things that cause anxiety, like approaching a possible love interest, than risk the small chance of humiliation and rejection. The problem is, there are a lot more likely consequences of avoidance like loneliness, isolation, and an overall increase in their anxiety.
If the individual is not completely avoiding social situations all together they are typically enduring these situations with intense fear and discomfort. If this is the case then the individual is most likely not behaving like themself and will be less likely to make significant connections with someone. Instead of carrying on conversations and engaging in appropriate flirting the individual might talk very little or may talk fast, fidget, or excessively apologize when it is not necessary. All of these behaviors are more likely to turn away a possible love interest and then more likely to confirm the individual's fears.
So What Can Someone with Social Anxiety do?
Although social anxiety can make dating harder, there are a few skills that can the individual work through the discomfort and be on your way to meeting the love of your life.
The first skill is acceptance. Dealing with a mental health disorder is no easy, fun, task, but accepting the reality of the situation can be the first step in overcoming it. Accept the fact that you struggle with social anxiety and sometimes this makes things more difficult for you. The more you fight your anxiety or try to avoid things that make you anxious, the stronger it gets. So, if you accepting what you can't change is your first step to feeling less anxiety in these situations.
The second skill that will significantly decrease the amount of anxiety felt in dating situations is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally being in the here and now. Staying in the present moment prevents any worries of possible future embarrassment or rejection from creeping into your mind and affecting the way you are behaving.
Thirdly, you want to learn to identify the thoughts associated with the anxiety and restructure these to be more helpful and more realistic. For example you want to identify that the anxiety is being caused by thoughts like, "I will say something to embarrass myself and then he wont like me anymore." And restructure these to be more helpful, "I don't usually say things to embarrass myself, but even if I did this one thing won't make him leave."
The next skill to consider is relaxation and breathing techniques. When anxiety increases an individual's breathing usually quickens and heart rate, blood pressure, body heat also increase. Practicing relaxation and breathing techniques can help bring these down, which will ultimately lower the anxiety experienced because your brain will sense that the "danger" has passed no longer needs to release hormones associated with anxiety.
Lastly, don't forget the old saying, "Face your fears." This is so true when talking about managing anxiety. When you face the situations that cause anxiety you will learn that the feared outcome rarely happens and even if it does, it is not as bad as you anticipated it to be. You will also develop a sense of accomplishment and pride that you were were able to overcome something in your life.
Takes these skills and get out and start dating!
For more information on social anxiety disorder and treating it check out my book at www.insightcounselingserviceswi.com/book
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