Valentine’s Day is our annual reminder of the deep conflict between social anxiety and this very public date night. The pressure to express our feelings for that someone special out in public and the angst associated with that expression can lead to a great deal of stress for some with social anxiety on Valentine’s Day. But with a few key changes to the way we approach the holiday, we can reduce the anxiety and stress and find ways to enjoy the company of others, especially that someone special.
For people with social anxiety, dating is often one of the biggest areas of challenge and difficulty. Either it’s something that’s avoided entirely or they suffer through it. So when someone comes to me and they have social anxiety and we address the the dating-related questions, [there are] a few basic recommendations I’ll make:
1) Reduce the expectations you put on yourself
A big part social anxiety is the feeling or idea that “I need to be perfect,” “I need to say just the right things,” “I need to do just the right things.” These thoughts and feelings create unrealistic expectations.
2) Don’t expect the other person to be such a critic
People with social anxiety problems are thinking that whoever they are with is ready and poised to criticize them when they do anything imperfect. It’s helpful for the social anxiety sufferer to say, “I’m not gonna expect that person to be quite as critical as I anticipate they will be.”
Learn more about setting expectations in our blog post and video on dealing with social anxiety during holidays, birthdays & social gatherings and our 5 tips for dealing with social anxiety during the holidays.
3) It’s not the end of the world if something goes wrong on your date
My third recommendation is for people to tell themselves, “even if I do something imperfect, and even frankly if the other person does criticize me or think less of me because what I did or didn’t do (and this probably won’t happen), I can bounce back from that – that isn’t the end of the world. I don’t have to treat this situation like if it doesn’t go well then it’s game over.” So we really encourage people to look at the big picture and put a little less pressure on themselves.