Anxiety itself refers to intense, excessive, and persistent feelings of worry and fear about everyday situations. People with a social anxiety disorder may struggle with daily social interactions. Symptoms of social anxiety include excessive fear of situations in which you may be judged, embarrassed, humiliated, or in which you may offend someone. Like many other mental illnesses, this condition can make it difficult for people to maintain relationships. As a Pompano substance abuse treatment center that offers mental health support, we wanted to share some tips on dating someone with social anxiety to help you and your loved one have a healthy relationship.
Experiencing anxiety around people can feel limiting and debilitating. You may feel like everyone is judging or as if you’re always uncomfortable in your own skin. Dating someone who feels this way around people can also be difficult, especially if you don’t have any experience with anxiety. You may not have a clue about how they’re feeling or understand why they feel that way at all. Sometimes, in an attempt to make the other person feel better, we say things like, “You’re overthinking,” or “Stop worrying,” which can seem dismissive and make the matter worse. Below are a few tips on dating someone with anxiety that can guide you on how to be there for your partner.
Understanding social anxiety allows you to be there for your partner. What are the symptoms of social anxiety? What triggers it? The more you learn about the condition itself, the more considerate you’ll be to the person’s reactions to social situations. Knowing the general cause of anxiety attacks also prepares you to help your partner when they feel overwhelmed.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, which means when your partner is experiencing anxiety in social situations, you should try to put yourself in their shoes. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were terrified? That’s how they feel about social situations. What helped you feel better that may help your partner? Keeping an open mind instead of becoming frustrated or impatient is a great way to be there for your loved one and help them feel better in situations that make them uncomfortable.
While research is helpful, you can’t gather all of the information you need from outside sources. Many people make the mistake of using lines like “I read online” or “the Internet says” to try and help their partners, but this can actually backfire. There are different types of anxiety disorders, and within those diagnoses, each person’s experience is also unique. Your partner may have particular triggers that you’ll only learn over time and through observation. Another saying you should avoid is, “I know how you feel.” Unless you have social anxiety, you don’t know how they feel. Even if you know someone else with this disorder, you still don’t know exactly how your partner feels. Saying so can come across as dismissive rather than supportive. They know themselves best, so try to be understanding of things that trigger them that may otherwise seem random or inconsequential to you.
The symptoms of social anxiety aren’t always obvious. For example, while your loved one may not feel anxious before a major event, something as simple as inviting them out to eat with some friends can spark anxiety. Your partner may follow up several times about the time, date, location, who will be there, and other questions you may not think are relevant, but they do. They might even get nervous at the last minute and cancel. As you learn what triggers them, you’ll be better prepared to help them in situations that make them uncomfortable. When these uncomfortable moments present themselves, check in with them and encourage them. Remind them you’re there with them, or you’re just a phone call away if they need you.
In times of anxiety, your partner may seem distracted or as if they’re ignoring you, which may make you feel uneasy. You may wonder if they’re ignoring you or if they’re upset at you. Riding on this train of thought without taking a step back to analyze the situation can cause problems. Instead, think about the situation and why your partner would be acting that way. Maybe they received some distressing news at work, or perhaps they’re worried about an upcoming event. The best way to help a person with social anxiety is to be honest with them. If you’re concerned and want to know if they’re okay, just ask them what’s on their mind, which prevents any overthinking or misunderstandings on your part.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illnesses like social anxiety, and much of it stems from language. Harsh language, in this case, refers to saying things that are dismissive of your partner’s condition and feelings. Some examples of things you shouldn’t say to people with anxiety include, “calm down,” “it’s not a big deal,” “why are you so anxious?” and “stop worrying.” Even if you have the best intentions, these statements can come across as dismissive. Instead, when you don’t understand how they feel, ask them to explain if they can, and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them.
It’s common for people who are dealing with someone who has a mental illness like anxiety to sacrifice their needs and desires to help them. But doing this can create unhealthy, codependent behavior. For example, canceling plans to soothe your partner’s stress is one thing, but it’s another to stop going to your daily workout classes because you’re worried they’ll need you. A healthy relationship requires balance, and it’s important to keep yourself balanced to be there for your partner. Codependence often begets controlling behavior that can enable the person’s anxiety.
It’s easy to react and become stressed out when you’re dating someone with anxiety. You may feel overwhelmed when your partner becomes anxious, and this nervous energy may just bounce back between the two of you and cause problems in your relationship. It’s important to take care of yourself as well and keep your stress in check. Some great stress management tips include exercising daily (yoga is especially helpful) or taking walks daily, watch your favorite movie or journal, and you can even practice these things together with your partner.
At the end of the day, the person you love is still there. But sometimes, they’re just buried under their anxiety and don’t know how to get out. It’s easy to forget the loving person underneath this condition. But it’s important to remember that they are not their anxiety. Their anxiety is just an intense reaction that can overwhelm them or their partner and affect their behavior. They don’t do it on purpose, and it doesn’t mean they love you any less. Try to practice patience and compassion with your partner.
Many people with mental disorders make the mistake of not getting treatment. The misconceptions about mental illness often cause enough embarrassment and even shame to prevent people from seeking out support. If you see that your loved one is struggling, get them help. An untreated mental illness may only worsen over time, making it difficult for the person to maintain their health, job, and relationships. Encourage them to seek out care like our mental health treatment in Florida. With professional help, your partner can learn valuable coping skills for anxiety.
Mental illness is often linked to substance abuse, and both categories can negatively impact a person’s health, family, and career. If you’re battling addiction or mental illness, Banyan Pompano can help. Call us now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our mental health and drug treatment in Pompano Beach.