I know it’s a bit of a BOLD question.  But I have to ask…

How are things with your love life?

In the world of dating (if you’re single)…or in your relationship with your partner?

A while back, I asked a question on the Social Phobia World forums about what the biggest issues were for people in dealing with their social anxiety.

I’d say just under half of the responses had to do with dating and talking to a member of the opposite sex that is attractive.

Most of the responses in terms of love life seemed to be from men, experiencing some kind of performance anxiety in talking to attractive women. I certainly can relate to that one.

Not to discount the women reading this that have social anxiety, however stats show that men have social anxiety more than women (David Burns, The Feeling Good Handbook).

I also read somewhere recently, though I can’t remember where now, how culturally it is often more acceptable for women to be “shy” than men. Though it doesn’t make the pain of social discomfort any easier, that’s for sure.

The hardest stuff for me to work on traditionally has been to do with relationships with family or friends, and certainly my love life.  I have made a lot of progress in this area, but still have work to do.

Even though the sexes are more equal than ever, there is still an unspoken cultural undercurrent that the men are expected to charge forward, be bold and take the reigns. I found that interesting and that resonated with me, too.

But whether male or female, taking a look at your dating and relationships life is a great place to look.

And women can have their issues just as much as men in terms of letting someone get close to them in relationships, or perhaps getting too needy. I have been in both camps before.

Some of our biggest fears about being loved, rejected, hurt and trusting others can be in the love arena, running very, very deep.

They are often the hardest to see and own up to, but I believe that the greatest growth can come from them.

The ability to really be with someone intimately – look into their eyes – to really be vulnerable and open yourself up – can be difficult for people in general, let alone those of us with social anxiety.

So…what do you think?

I know some of you maybe in a relationship or married, and I’m talking to you, too.

Where are you afraid to express how you feel in a responsible way that is honest and open?

Are you avoiding conflict to keep yourself safe?

Does this relate to your social anxiety condition, and can you see where there are commonalities?

Certainly all the work in overcoming my social anxiety has greatly helped my self-expression factor, and maybe that was a step in getting to my deeper love and relationship issues.

I’m not talking about just going around and telling everyone you know, or people that you don’t trust, I’m talking about confiding in someone I trust (a “safe person”) and really open up.

It has been like a weight is lifted off of my shoulders, and I’m actually free to lean into them, instead of trying to deny they are there.

And you’ll often see by their reaction, that they aren’t as big of a deal as you’ve made them out to be.

Now this doesn’t mean to take a look at your issues and ruminate over them, causing you to get anxious and/or depressed about them, that isn’t the point at all!

It’s more like looking at where you struggle and saying “I have trouble meeting men/women I like because I’m afraid to get rejected, and I’m willing to do what it takes, no matter what to resolve this.”

Or “I’m afraid to get into a relationship, because then they’ll see who I really am, and they won’t love me.

But now that I know, I’m going to do the work, not give up, knowing that I deserve to be happy like everyone else.”

See the difference there?

It’s not just calling out the issue and then going into a “woe is me” story which just makes us feel like crap.

It’s about owning up to it, but not judging yourself, even forgiving yourself, and then committing to TAKE ACTION – whether therapy, self-help books, my Dissolve Social Anxiety program, or another program – to work on your issues.

It’s a really empowering experience to be honest with yourself, without beating the hell out of yourself (i.e. being honest, yet gentle), and committing to really helping yourself.

And you know what, it’s not necessarily just like one day you finally get it, and don’t have to do any work.

You still have to remain present and jump in, because old patterns that have been there for so long could reactivate if you don’t keep jumping into life, especially your love life.

Be your biggest fan and start your recovery today, or if you are already doing the work and feel stuck or overwhelmed, recommit to being “all-in” in dissolving your social anxiety.

    8 replies to "Handling Your Love Life Issues: A Doorway To Conquering Social Anxiety"

    • Victoria

      My partner refuses to communicate with me. He shuts off and then does something else to try and ignore me. I’m a prisoner in my own home in a strange town without a car. I have MDD, PTSD and social anxiety disorder and there are days I just don’t think I can hold on. I spend a lot of time online (which, no offense, but I’m getting bored with), reading my Kindle (which I’m also getting bored with) and watching Netflix (which I’m tired of. I got the “free month” but we can’t afford it anyhow. I feel like I’m climbing the walls. I have never had a temper, and the other day I had an urge to throw my computer across the room (which II didn’t do obviously). HELP!

      • David Hamilton

        Victoria – I am sorry to hear about all your conditions and I am only an expert in SA and shyness. It also looks clear to me like you have a lot of negative thinking which keeps you stuck in this situation in your life. At some point, when you are ready, you will have to take control of your perspective, your life, otherwise things will stay the same. It is up to you and in your control, ultimately.

    • Evan

      I have been struggling with social anxiety for almost my whole life. Whether it is making new friends or trying to open up and meet women, I struggle because I almost constantly doubt myself or find reasons in my head for why people won’t or shouldn’t like me. I think it is very important to get out and really test yourself, keeping in mind that it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and talk about yourself. People should be proud of themselves for making the effort. Too often, society, both men and women are extremely judgmental and there are cultural rules for what is normal, attractive or cool. We are fundamentally afraid to break these rules and be labeled as different. I think a lot of my feelings about myself and how I will be judged are just irrational assumptions that may or may not come from previous experiences of being rejected or left out. I mean I think there will always be groups of people that can’t accept you no matter how hard you try, and that is just a fact of life. That is not to say that you can’t also meet people who are very interesting, nonjudgmental and eager to know more about you. These could be the same people who are struggling with social anxiety themselves, so maybe opening up helps others to open up.

      • David Hamilton

        I think you are right on here Evan. You have a bunch of irrational thinking and that is what holds you back, not the fact that judgmental people are out there because they are, just like those that are non-judgmental. Trying to hard to fit in a certain group almost always leads to being rejected by that group. It is forcing an outcome which isn’t meant to happen, with high attachment to outcome bringing stress, anxiety and lack of relaxation. Great observations about yourself.

    • Katrina

      Aside from the stereotypes for both men and women in dating, people in general tend to put safety nets in place to ensure they will be protected. It may not always be as obvious as talking or not talking, engaging or not engaging, but comes out through overall statements. By stating a personal truth and using it as a very clear boundary/shield, a person, in effect, is creating a very distinct wall that cannot be disputed because it was thrown out as a “fact”. The more “rules and distinctions” the more boundaries are created. This is simply a defense mechanism that perpetuates a false sense of safety, but in reality, keeps people from getting too close in the first place.

      • David H.

        Well said Katrina!

    • Ken

      I’m afraid to make friends because I think once they know I am socially anxious, then they won’t like me.

      • David H.

        Yes that’s a common irrational or self-limiting belief (SLB). It’s definitely a trap because that belief which is preventing you from making friends, it’s self perpetuating cycle. A good place to look is…what are other possible beliefs in place of this one?

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