Are you struggling with how to date and love again because you have social anxiety??
In today’s day, mental health is something that is becoming a bit more accepted. So, when someone expresses that dating gives them anxiety, many are quick to understand and acknowledge that person as they are.
However, back then, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, no one really spoke about their mental health issues and it affected many people. Especially when trying to find love or grow a relationship.
I can vividly remember dating with social anxiety during my first college boyfriend. He was four years older than me and so the assumption that I had to appear older than I really was made it extremely difficult for me just to be myself. Hence, the anxiety.
I remember feeling like I had to fit in. I had to attend his group settings and hang out just as long as he did. It was an out-of-body experience because no matter how crowded the room was, or how happy my boyfriend was being there, I still felt very alone. Also as if I was being judged. My own insecurities grew louder as I envisioned everyone thinking or assuming the same things about me. Those social outings were traumatizing for me and it fed into the anxiety. I didn’t know I had such anxiety back then. I thought I just had to grow up and go with the flow… because I wanted my older boyfriend to stay attracted to me.
Little did I know that those forced outings made my anxiety grow. And that’s not the time I’ve experienced this sort of thing in my love life.
I remember dating someone after a really bad breakup. Because of that breakup, I suddenly lost myself and became very insecure. The insecurity made me also have very low self-esteem. Which did not play well when paired with my past traumatic episodes of large crowds. Meeting someone new was already a huge risk for me. Especially when all I wanted to do was stay home, and focus on myself. But no… I didn’t do that. My intuitions were left ignored. I ended up forcing myself to go out and engage with extroverted guys who liked the crowds.
Rather than trusting myself and doing what was best for me, I placed myself in unsettling situations over and over again all for the sake of getting to know guys who I thought I could trust.
I want to be very clear on this: When I was going out on my own terms, I didn’t experience anxiety. I was happy and glad to be a part of the party. While the crowds did make me tense up a bit and the thoughts about my insecurities were still there, there weren’t as bad because I was relaxed and was able to have a good time.
It was when I placed my trust and well-being into the hands of others that made me tense up and worry about my own security. It was me going out and doing things that did not make me comfortable nor bring me peace that fed my anxiety.
Those crowds made me feel like everyone was watching me and expecting me to become someone I wasn’t. The traumas of my past relationships were on display all over again. It made dating with social anxiety seem impossible.
Certain settings with certain people made me clamp up. It brought out the worst in me because I was never comfortable in those settings.
And because I wasn’t comfortable, I resorted to drinking to “loosen up”, or I would cling to my date in hopes that he would help me have a good time, leaving me totally dependent on their every move… whether they had my best interests at heart or not.
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I wish I could hug that version of myself. Just look her in the eyes and let her know that if something (or someone) brought this much fear and nervousness, then it was ok to go home or date someone else. I would tell my anxious, younger self that forcing something into my love life is never the way to real love.
As I got older, I realized that there was definitely an anxiety problem. Sometimes it got worse, sometimes it was nonexistent. But the fact of the matter is that anxiety doesn’t always go away. But it can be well managed. And by learning how to do so, you can most certainly turn your love life around and learn to date someone while also having social anxiety!
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Needless to say, whether you know you have a social anxiety disorder or there’s something else that you’re mentally struggling with (such as trauma), trying to create a secure foundation within a relationship can become quite the challenge.