Is social anxiety ruining your relationship?
- Do fears of rejection stop you from communicating openly with your partner?
- Do you feel guilty because your partner wants you to socialize more?
- Do you feel frustrated that your partner doesn't like to socialize as much as you do?
- Does it feel as though you are your partner's main social contact?
Social anxiety is an intense fear of being rejected and humiliated. Experienced on a regular basis, SA can ruin one's relationships, particularly intimate relationships.
Sometimes those with social anxiety pair up with extroverted, non-anxious partners. Other times, social anxious people find one another and couple. In both situations, couples feel the effect of S.A. and often experience issues such as:
- Fights about how and when to socialize
- Communication issues
- The fear that “we’re just not right for each other”
Thankfully, social anxiety doesn't have to devastate your relationship -- thanks to ongoing research, we now understand how to overcome social anxiety as well as what couples need to do in order to maintain a happy, healthy relationship even in the face of S.A.
Here are a few tips for staying in love in spite of social anxiety:
1. Make time to talk
One of the key aspects of social anxiety is the fear of being rejected. This translates into self-disclosure avoidance, which all but stops communication between partners.
If you find you or your partner avoid discussing important issues, remember that communication is key in happy, lasting relationships. Get back on track by first discussing social anxiety and how it affects your relationship. Both partners need time and space to speak openly about their fears and frustrations.
If you find communicating openly with your partner too difficult, I recommend seeing a couples therapist. Many people find that social anxiety loses some of its power once it’s acknowledged openly.
- Blame social anxiety, not your partner
Social anxiety can take a toll on all aspects of your relationship, including your sex life, emotional intimacy, and equitable sharing of responsibilities.
It’s normal to feel angry and sad that your husband can’t enjoy himself at your birthday party, or that your girlfriend can’t seem to stop nagging you about seeing a psychiatrist. And it’s important to share those feelings, but doing so can backfire if you fall into the trap of blaming your partner. Instead, share your feelings about the real “bad guy”– social anxiety – and save both you and your partner from defensiveness and shame, true intimacy killers.
- Have fun together
Do you and your partner have a movie that makes you cry with laughter? Or a pet that makes you both smile? Social anxiety tends to bring up sadness, guilt, and frustration. Make time to find joy with your partner and remember why you fell in love in the first place. While this may be difficult in the face of your struggles, it can be a relationship saver.
- Get treatment – both of you
Social anxiety can feel like a life sentence for both the sufferer and his or her loved ones. But it isn’t. We know more about S.A. every day. Get support and stay on top of your recovery, as S.A. does take persistent effort to heal.
If you’re the partner of someone with social anxiety, make sure you get support as well. One of the best ways to support your partner is to practice excellent self care and learn as much as you can about S.A.