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How Can Social Anxiety Affect Personal Relationships?

Social anxiety will affect people to varying degrees. At one end of the scale, someone might be seeking a prospective partner on a site like this, then feel trepidation about the thought of a face-to-face encounter. At the other extreme, individuals can be powerless to prevent the onslaught of full-blown panic attacks – debilitating moments […]

Social anxiety will affect people to varying degrees. At one end of the scale, someone might be seeking a prospective partner on a site like this, then feel trepidation about the thought of a face-to-face encounter. At the other extreme, individuals can be powerless to prevent the onslaught of full-blown panic attacks – debilitating moments of extreme worry and self-doubt that will make any form of social interaction difficult. Assuming the social anxiety in question is somewhere in the middle, this will still represent a considerable hurdle for the person involved, especially if they are involved with someone romantically. So how does social anxiety affect personal relationships?

There can be a tendency to be overly-critical

Where personal relationships are concerned, it often pays to take a step back and relax, especially whenever there are moments of friction. A common symptom of anxiety is failing to be objective or realistic when analyzing problems. Instead, the default mode is to become far too critical. Jumping in with both feet like this leaves little room for maneuver, so misunderstandings can never be resolved by meeting half-way. The anxious person is pre-disposed to seeing the worst aspect of any situation: their glass is always half-empty, and no amount of replenishment is likely to change that anytime soon.

You have a comfort zone – and you’re staying there

To use the analogy of animal characteristics, socially anxious individuals can often seem like tortoises. They might well attempt to lift their head out from the comfort of their shell, but the moment anything becomes too troublesome or unfamiliar, they’ll retreat. Where most of their peers are likely to relish the exciting prospect of living a little dangerously now and again, anxiety will quash any similar attempts at being creative. Where personal relationships are concerned, this can lead to frustration at what is misread as unnecessarily dull or stilted behavior.

Stressful situations are ignored, not confronted

Someone suffering from social anxiety would often rather run a mile in the opposite direction than have to deal with something remotely awkward or unpleasant. This can stretch to all walks of life. Important letters from the bank about overdraft charges or red letters from utility companies are liable to be shoved to the back of a drawer. Within a committed relationship, the most recommended way of dealing with areas of conflict or friction is to approach the situation, discuss it with your partner, and work out ways of resolving whatever it is.

Communication can become problematic

Even basic conversations can become a source of frustration when a person is suffering from anxiety. Instead of a typical exchange of lucid sentences and normal reactions, the anxious individual is liable to take offense at the most innocuous of remarks. They could resort to sarcasm, or completely lose the plot and start a slanging match. They might not even participate in the discussion at all, but spent their time rolling their eyes. They’ll also be quick to give up on the dialogue completely and storm off in a huff. Also, because they are so focused on confrontation it will become difficult to make plans for exciting things to do together in the future.

You think everything revolves around you

Someone prone to social anxiety will be unable to view their predicament with any degree of detachment. As far as they are concerned, everything revolves around their blinkered world-view. Try as you might to put a positive spin on everything, and make them ‘see sense’ about something conjured by their overactive imagination, they are liable to regard any attempt to intervene as meddling in their affairs.

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