Is Having Social Anxiety a Turn-Off? Here Are the Deciding Factors.

Four variables determine whether someone believes that social anxiety is undesirable in a mate.

  1. Their own knowledge/experience with social anxiety.
  2. Their perception of the anxious person’s confidence level.
  3. How their own lives might be impacted by a partner’s anxiety.
  4. How up front the anxious person is about their anxiety.

Just because one has social anxiety, even if it is severe, it does not mean that they are unattractive to everyone. 

In fact, after surveying a lengthy Reddit thread asking “Is having social anxiety a turn off?”, it turns out that 35% of contributors said that no, it is not a turn off, while 26% of respondents said “yes it is”, and 39% were on the fence saying; “it depends.”

Social anxiety can vary in its severity and frequency – factors which affect its status as either an attractive or unattractive trait. 

Let’s take a look at the variables that determine whether social anxiety is a deal breaker for the “fence sitters.”

What Happens When Two Socially Anxious People Date?

According to our Reddit survey, one of two things will happen when two anxious people go on a date. 

Either one or both of the people involved will appreciate the commonality and feel totally comfortable OR one or both will feed off the other’s anxiety and resent being cast into the “caregiver” role. 

Enter variable #1. 

A person’s own knowledge/experience with social anxiety will directly affect whether or not they will date a socially anxious person.

Personally, as a socially anxious person, I did not want to date someone that was also anxious. I didn’t want an “enabler” so to speak. I wanted to grow out of my anxiety and escape its limits.

My knowledge and experience around social anxiety left a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t want to deal with it with a partner too. Taking care of my own issues was enough. 

Basically, I did not accept that I would always be socially anxious and wasn’t keen on hunkering down with someone with the same issues, only to maybe, someday, find our way together out of the anxiety.

For some people, being socially anxious is just a normal, permanent way of life. And that is okay for them. In that case, finding another sufferer to date may be the best option for them. Things will be comfy and gone will be the worries over enduring trigger situations in the name of love. 

Sure. I’m pretty introverted myself ( I often go a few days at a time without speaking to anyone) so this wouldn’t bother me at all. Plus, more time together!:)

Reddit Member

For those that have no personal, direct experience with social anxiety, it would seem that along with those seeking an anxiety buddy, they too are also open to dating someone who suffers from it.

Confidence is the Key to Attraction.

Confidence is the most powerful, influential factor when it comes to attraction between two people. It is so powerful, that if a socially anxious person can pull off a confident attitude while dating, they will be attractive to others despite their anxiety. 

It may seem dishonest, putting forth a confident front when you are actually feeling anxious but there are good reasons for confidence being the number one, most attractive trait a person can have.  

This brings us to variable #2.

The perception of the anxious person’s confidence level will also affect how their social anxiety is perceived. 

Confidence sets a potential mate at ease. It allows them to see you as a partner not a project. 

Confidence says “I’m solid. I’m resourceful. I have plans and will do great things. I can take care of myself and if need be, take care of you too.”

“I think there’s something primitive in being attracted to confident people. There must be some subconscious need in us as human beings to want to look out for the best potential mate for procreation. Somewhere deep down we’re drawn to the person we believe to be the best child bearer or provider and the confident ones seem to be the ones who’d get the job done.”

Barbara Aleks Hecht

So, whether a potential date knows about the other’s anxiety through confession or observation, if the sufferer can manage to exude the required confidence level for that particular suitor, the social anxiety piece won’t matter (as much).

Fake it ‘till you make it!

Here are some good tips for giving off confidence, even when you’re not feeling it.

What if Your Partner Never Wants to Go Anywhere?

Understandably, when sizing up a socially anxious mate, one is going to wonder how their anxiety is going to affect their own lives and their ability to continue doing the things they enjoy doing.

For me, it was a deal breaker. I’m far from outgoing, but I do like to go out once a week or so and grab a meal, have a couple beers etc. … I especially love trying out new restaurants. If that’s not something I have in common with someone, there’s a pretty good chance it’s not going to work between us.

Reddit Member

Here we have variable #3.

The degree to which their own lives will be impacted by a mate’s anxiety.

For those considering a date with a socially anxious person, it is important that they can discern whether or not the activities they enjoy doing will continue or be reduced with that person in their lives. 

If someone is no longer able to enjoy dining out or going to a movie or visiting family without leaving their partner at home, they are unlikely to commit to someone with social anxiety.

Most people are willing to accept some degree of social anxiety in their mate, at least some of the time. However, when someone has this anxiety full-on, all the time, finding a supportive partner will be a rarity.

We went out to a casual Italian restaurant, with maybe half the tables filled, and that triggered his social anxiety in a major way. In that instance, his social anxiety directly interfered with something I really enjoy, so I saw that it wouldn’t work between us.

Reddit Member

Should You Tell Your Date You Have Social Anxiety?

The short answer to this question is, YES. If you see potential for an on-going relationship, you should definitely plan on disclosing your social anxiety sooner than later.

Here we have variable #4.

How up front the anxious person is about their anxiety.

The last major deciding factor in whether someone with social anxiety is dating material, is their willingness to disclose their issue. Unsurprisingly, potential mates are more open to the idea of dating someone with social anxiety if they know about it beforehand!

Hiding the issue just makes it look like a negative, shameful trait that requires deceit. 

In this article; How (And When) to Open Up About Your Social Anxiety While Dating, Joseph Rauch gives two good reasons to open up about your social anxiety.

  1. You don’t want your date to assume you don’t want to spend time together or get to know them better.
  2. You don’t want to risk your date thinking you are not interested in meeting people who are important to them.

He goes on to say that this conversation probably should not happen on the first date, unless your date discloses their own mental health issues and you feel comfortable chiming in.

After a few dates, if you feel as though the relationship may go somewhere, then it’s time to consider how to tell your partner about your social anxiety.

If the topic doesn’t come up naturally,  Therapist Ginger Poag, suggests that the anxious person make a list of things that they wished their partner knew about having social anxiety.encouraged her clients to write down what they wish their partner knew about living with social anxiety. 

She then recommends considering working with a therapist to practice the conversation, learning methods to cope with any potential negative reactions.

So, although the time frame may differ for each person, it is definitely better to be open and upfront about your social anxiety if you are hoping for a long-term relationship.

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