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.