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Imagine walking into a bustling party full of laughter, chatter, and the clinking of glasses. Now, imagine that amongst the guests, there’s one that nobody invited but almost always shows up — Social Anxiety. Picture Social Anxiety as an actual person, clinging to the arm of one member of a couple who has arrived at the party. How would its presence affect the evening for the couple, and how they behave with the other guests?
Without Social Anxiety: As the couple walks in, they’re both looking forward to meeting the others at the party. They greet friends, make introductions, and start conversations with ease.
With Social Anxiety as a Guest: Now picture Social Anxiety holding onto the arm of one partner as they enter. This partner’s heart starts pounding. Even as their more outgoing partner greets people, the socially anxious one is looking around nervously, avoiding eye contact. Social Anxiety whispers reminders of every possible thing that could go wrong.
Without Social Anxiety: Normally, the couple would separate at times to chat with different groups of friends or colleagues. They would comfortably speak, share things about what’s going on in their lives, or maybe even hit the dance floor!
With Social Anxiety as a Guest: Here, Social Anxiety grips the anxious partner tighter, making it difficult to venture away from their more outgoing partner or the safety of a corner. Social Anxiety discourages engagement, making every conversation seem like a high-stakes gamble.
Without Social Anxiety: The thrill of meeting new people is something both partners usually enjoy, making the most out of the social gathering. They enjoy talking to new people, learning about others or are happy talking about themselves when asked.
With Social Anxiety as a Guest: As the socially anxious partner attempts to approach someone new, Social Anxiety hangs back, pulling them away, warning them of the potential judgment or embarrassment that could happen if you become the focus of attention.
Without Social Anxiety: Conversations flow naturally. Both partners are open, engaging with others, and enjoy the attention that comes from others and the interactions.
With Social Anxiety as a Guest: Social Anxiety never misses a chance to criticise. Each word, each pause, and even each gesture is scrutinised. It’s as if Social Anxiety holds up a magnifying glass to every ‘flaw,’ making the anxious partner more self-conscious than ever.
Without Social Anxiety: As the party winds down, the couple might be among the last to leave, enjoying long goodbyes and even making plans for meeting up with those they met in the future.
With Social Anxiety as a Guest: The socially anxious partner has been waiting for this moment. As they exit, Social Anxiety takes one last opportunity to remind them of every ‘mistake’ they made, ensuring they’ll replay the night over and over in their head.
It’s not just the anxious partner who feels the impact of Social Anxiety’s attendance. The other partner also has to adapt, perhaps forgoing talking to others so they can stay close to their anxious loved one. This can lead to feelings of restriction or resentment over time, causing a strain in the relationship that can often lead to other difficulties within the couple’s relationship.
If you or your partner suffer from social anxiety get in touch with the Nightingale team today. Call us on 0141 353 9373 or by filling in the contact form on our Contact Page.
If Social Anxiety is an unwanted guest in your life or your relationship, remember that you don’t have to let it stay. Individual or couples therapy can help. Improving communication and mutual understanding are vital. Acknowledge Social Anxiety’s presence, but work together so that the next time Social anxiety is looking for its invitation back into your relationship … maybe it simply got lost in the mail.
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