What Being In A Relationship Is Like When You Suffer From Social Anxiety

What Being In A Relationship Is Like When You Suffer From Social Anxiety

It's like a back-handed slap to the face of the person you're with...

"I'm having an anxiety attack."

It was my first one in what seemed like months. I could barely keep from crying as I blurted those words out while on the phone with my mom.

"Take long, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing. You need to breathe," she said, knowing I'd pass out if I kept hyperventilating.

I was racing back to the Donald Tucker Civic Center for an FSU basketball game, after being informed that my purse was too big. The game was about to start and my boyfriend had been saving me a seat alongside his friends, and I had to walk three blocks by myself in the cold.

I was already stressed about having to drive to the Civic Center by myself, since I had never been. I couldn't find parking anywhere close enough, so I trudged along in the 40 degree weather, miserable and cold. Upon arrival, I was informed that my purse was "too big" and I wouldn't be allowed inside.

Suddenly, it felt like everyone was looking at me, whispering to each other, pointing out that I wouldn't be able to go into the game. It felt like I had a giant neon sign above my head that said "Mock Me."

It really wasn't a big deal. Looking back at it, I overreacted. I called my boyfriend, cussing and on the verge of tears, telling him that I was done, I was going home, and I spat out "have fun with your friends" as if this was all his fault.

After I had called my mom and she had talked me through my anxiety attack, I texted my boyfriend and immediately apologized. "I'm so sorry baby, I was just freaking out. I'm really sorry, I promise I'm not mad at you."

Dating with anxiety is not an easy feat to accomplish. Just when you think you've got a handle on things, one minor inconvenience sends you into a frenzy, feeling like everything is your fault and everyone is bothered by your presence. Anxiety isn't always watching paperwork pile up on your desk and deadlines approaching. It's walking into a crowded restaurant and not being able to hold your head up and look around at people.

For the longest time, I always thought my boyfriend would get bored of hanging out with me for long periods of time. We went for a hike with my dog on a nice Sunday afternoon, and upon our return home, he said he was going to hang out with his friends and watch some football. I broke down, sobbing, begging for him not to leave me.

It could all be separation anxiety, which I first experienced as a child, visiting my father's house on weekends while I cried and pleaded to see my mother. It wasn't anything against my father; I was just so used to always being with my mother, that without her, I couldn't function.

Now, I don't like to be alone. I like alone time where I can clean and write and gather my thoughts, but after a few hours, it feels like no one wants to talk to me, or to hang out with me, and everyone acts like I don't exist. So I begin to panic, and stress that this is how it ends for me- all alone, with nothing and no one.

Anxiety, for me, is this constant, overwhelming feeling in the back of my head, that everything is a lie and everything is far worse than it seems. It makes me have irrational fears, like being late to anything, or that everyone is staring at me and can see my fear of being alone.

It's almost embarrassing to have an anxiety attack while in a relationship. It's like a back-handed slap to the face of the person you're with, saying that you don't feel safe or comfortable with them, which isn't necessarily true. When my boyfriend asks me to meet him somewhere after work, I can feel knots in my chest because I know I'll have to look for him when I get there. I know that people are going to look at me and realize I'm lost, and talk about me under their breaths.

He's tried to talk me through it, often trying to make light of it with some jokes, but he doesn't understand that this isn't something I can click on and off. Anytime we have to go into a crowded place, I always make him go in first, so I can keep my gaze low and not have to look anyone in the face.

For Halloween, I wore a bandana around my nose and mouth, which surprisingly gave me confidence, and allowed me to lead the way through the crowd at a party, with my head held high, making sure to make eye contact with everyone. It was like I could hide my anxiety and fears behind that piece of cloth, even though there was no reason to cower in a corner with my head covered.

I know many people that have got a grip on their anxiety, and they've found a way to keep it level and not freak out every time something goes wrong. I've used the grounding technique, where you look around and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste, and it's helped me through some of my more mild anxiety attacks.

Anxiety is so much more than just a term for "freaking out" that people throw around. It's something I've had since I was a kid, and I'll need to learn to overcome it before it consumes me.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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8 Qualities That Still Hold Up When Looking For The 'Perfect Guy' In 2019

He hasn't come along yet, but I'll know him when I see him.


Ah, the mythical "perfect guy." Technically, he doesn't exist.

But there are guys that seem perfect to the people who love them despite their flaws. Over the years, I've compiled a mental list of things I look for in a guy. The list has changed over the years as different things became important to me. It's probably as complex and comprehensive now as it'll ever get, but I can't be sure.

The following are in order of importance, at least for me. Here are the best qualities to look for in a man in 2019:

1. Having strong faith.

This is crucial! I'm Christian, so for me, that means if he's not a Christian, it's a dealbreaker. My morals and beliefs are very strongly linked to my faith in God, and I just can't be with someone who doesn't share that conviction. I wouldn't marry a man who's not a Christian, so why even bother dating one?

"Imagine a man so focused on God that the only reason he looked up to see you is because he heard God say, 'That's her.'"

2. Kind

This is also very important! I've liked guys in the past who had some of the other qualities I looked for I but weren't kind. A relationship without kindness is toxic. Everyone deserves someone who treats them well, but that person should treat everyone well. They shouldn't discriminate with their kindness.

3. Funny

I need a guy who can make me laugh! He also needs to be able to understand my sense of humor, which is mostly sarcasm. I find a lot of things funny: jokes, puns, memes, no matter how seemingly stupid. If you've got those, you're golden.

4. Smart

Intelligence is attractive. It's true. I want a guy who's smart but isn't conceited. He knows he knows a lot but he doesn't think he's better than everyone else. He doesn't have to be a genius. He could be really smart in one subject, or kind of smart in many subjects. I just want him to know a thing or two about a thing or two.

5. Hardworking

My guy needs to be ambitious. He needs to have goals that he works toward. He can't be lazy. I believe that it is primarily the man's duty to financially support his woman. This is most applicable in marriage, but it works in dating relationships, too. I don't want someone who is unable to provide for me. In order to do that, he needs to be able to provide for himself.

6. Cute

You knew I'd get to this! I'm not blind, after all. Trust me, I think it's important for a guy to be attractive. But it's not as important as everything listed above this. I've been told I have weird taste in guys in terms of looks. What I see as cute doesn't always line up with society's definition. The important thing is that I'm attracted to him. Physical attraction is important in a relationship. To be picky: I don't like facial hair or too much muscle. I do like chest hair and back muscles.

7. Creative

This can mean a lot of different things. He could draw, paint, write, sing, play an instrument, etc. As long as it shows that he's inclined to use the right side of his brain. I'm a writer, so I'm naturally more drawn to people who prefer creativity over logic.

8. Interested in Me

Despite being last, this is extremely important! Without this, none of the other things matter. It's just like every other crush I've ever had. Nothing different. Nothing special. While I've been able to find guys who exhibit the first seven qualities, the eighth has been much harder to come by. I've never been in a relationship, so I imagine it will be really wonderful when I eventually find someone who reciprocates my feelings.

Some people may think my standards are too high, but I refuse to lower them. I believe that God has someone out there for me who lives up to these standards and even exceeds them. I just have to be patient and trust His timing.

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The Friend You Like Romantically Doesn't Owe You Anything

The friend-zone can be escaped, but not in the way you might want

We've all heard the story of the "friend-zone." Boy is in love with his best friend, she dates all the wrong guys and fails to notice how perfect he is, then eventually realizes how wrong she was and they live happily ever after.

I used to think that the friend-zone was a myth that lonely men created to feel better about themselves. But then I got friend-zoned myself.

Yes, it sucked, but the second I realized I had feelings for a friend (that I knew had no such feelings for me), I decided to suppress the feelings. When that wasn't enough, I cut them off for a bit, then, slowly, I felt OK. I could communicate with them without having unwanted romantic feelings pop up. I had escaped the friend-zone.

Having gone through that, I had more sympathy for someone I had to friend-zone a little while later. I had been friends with this guy for a few months. I didn't have many college friends yet and I was really lonely, so having his company really meant a lot at the time.

This caused me to not be able to see what should have been clear: he had a crush on me. When I finally made the realization, I immediately let him know that I didn't feel that way about him. He said it was OK, but I could tell it wasn't.

We didn't talk at all over the summer and when we came back for the fall semester, he would barely look at me. I had started dating his friend, which caused an even bigger rift between us.

Though I understand where he's coming from, I was also really mad at him for a long time.

It was as if he was only nice to me because he wanted romance in return. But people are not vending machines. You can't put in your "nice guy" coins and expect love, sex, or whatever the hell it is you want in return.

It hurt me to know that he only wanted romance and once that was off the table, he no longer wanted anything to do with me.

But then I thought back to the friend that had friend-zoned me. Unrequited affections really suck, especially when they're for someone that you spend a lot of time with. But the key is to work to escape it.

Yes, liking someone you're friends with and them not liking you back is a real thing, but people tend to treat the friend-zone like this mythic hell dimension that can never be escaped. But you can escape. Just maybe not in the way you'd like to.

Now there are three ways you can escape the friend-zone:

The first option is to confess your feelings and try to win them over. Now, this isn't completely unheard of. I've had friends that have dated people who had previously friend-zoned them, but it's extremely rare and risky. You have to risk your entire friendship in order to do this. If it doesn't work out, it could strain the friendship or sometimes break it beyond repair.

You can also do what my ex-friend did and completely cut the person off. If you're being a love-zombie and only doing nice things for the friend because you expect romance in return, leaving the situation might be the most healthy decision for you. I understand now that my friend might have stopped talking to me out of self-preservation. But it still hurts the people involved.

The third and final option is to just get over it. It's harsh, but it's real. Why try something you know is going to fail and cause pain to both sides? Yes, getting over crushes can be really difficult, but getting a normal friendship back rather than being stuck a love-zombie for them is worth the pain.

Whichever one you choose, just remember this: Your friends do not owe you any romantic affection. The work you put into making them happy should just come out of the goodness of your own heart. If you expect romance in return, you're not being a good friend to them. If you really care about them, don't put that kind of pressure on them. They don't want a mindless love-zombie that does their bidding for the hope that they'll get a tiny love kernel out of it. They just want a friend.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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