Approximately 19.2 million Americans have Social Anxiety Disorder, a condition in which a person experiences intense fear of social situations. Typically, these people are afraid to interact with others, get nervous easily, are often self-conscious, and worry about what others might think of them. Social Anxiety Disorder is not the same thing as “just” being shy. People who are afflicted want to have friends and live the same type of life as other people, but they worry about being rejected or embarrassed in certain social situations.
Social Anxiety Disorder can have a debilitating effect on a person’s life. As a result, people who suffer from the disorder are far less likely to date or get married than the average person. The combination of dating and social anxiety disorder presents many complications for people who have this condition:
- Men often have a harder time in a dating situation. Society normally dictates that men are responsible for initiating dating scenarios. As a result, a man with Social Anxiety Disorder will generally feel more pressure than a woman.
- In a social situation, a man with this condition typically worries about what they’re going to say to their date. They are afraid of looking silly or unintelligent. This fear can be so intense that they may not even be able to introduce themselves or may seem "stuck up" or snobby beacuse they don’t say much in social situations.
- Women tend to worry more about what people will think of them. Their appearance, especially, is cause for concern. They often feel that everything, from their nails to their shoes, is an opportunity for someone to judge them.
- Eating out – one of the most common dating activities – is especially stressful for someone with Social Anxiety Disorder. Both men and women become concerned that they will display improper eating manners that will make their date or others develop a negative opinion. If a person who has this disorder does choose to eat at a restaurant, they are often under extreme stress while doing so.
- Many people are able to interact comfortably, even with a stranger, in a one-on-one situation. It is the possibility of facing a group or of being surrounded by people that really enhances the stress they feel.
For those who are anxious about dating with Social Anxiety Disorder, don’t overlook places where you already may feel more comfortable:
- a church you may already belong to
- a group you may volunteer with
- a neighborhood association you may belong to
- friends or family who can arange a blind date and then can double-date with you to help you feel more comfortable
- a sports team you may belong to
The point is that having a common ground can help you feel more at ease with someone new and can take some of the fear out of dating with Social Anxiety Disorder.
If you or someone you know suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder, it is important to seek help. Your doctor will generally suggest a combination of therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Additionally, your doctor can suggest coping methods that can help to make dating easier over time. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed. Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders specialize in helping those who are fearful of dating with Social Anxiety Disorder. Take the first step toward getting help by calling them at 561-496-1094 or by emailing them today.