Relationship Skills and Social Anxiety
©Nancy Wesson, Ph.D. 2011
As someone who experiences social anxiety you can have the support and
coaching/counseling you need
to become less socially anxious, feel more relaxed around others, learn how
to bring more people into your life
as close friends, and find a partner.
Most people who experience social anxiety need help developing or better
utilizing their social skills. This is primarily accomplished by taking
small steps and small risks until you become more comfortable socially. It
is important to remember that everyone is awkward socially in some
situations but they simply get used to feeling that way. Social contact is
awkward at times.
There is no way to avoid taking emotional risks when you are working on
improving your social skills . Give yourself support, and seek out support
from others as you do this. Be gentle with yourself. Take small steps. Get
extra help (counseling) if you need it as you would for any other important
area in your life.
Building relationship skills when you have social anxiety
Sharing thoughts, feelings and needs is the best way to become emotionally
close to someone.
Asking questions casually while you spend time together is the best way to
get to know someone but do not disclose a lot at a time especially in the
Here are some helpful ideas:
- Use "I" statements: I feel sad that I won't be seeing you until next month
instead of.. It's hard for one to wait a month to see someone they are
interested in... . I am happy that you came... vs. You know it's nice when
others show up when they are expected...
- Do not evade questions about yourself or joke about
it or change the subject to something less personal.
- What are you doing...writing my biography?
- Is this psychotherapy 101?
Being friends first is more than a cliche -- enjoying someone's
company and becoming relaxed around someone are very important
aspects of intimacy.
- Don't disclose prematurely -- sometimes women do this.
Don't make "confessions" about your job, your
ex-wife, your kids etc.
- "First strive to understand, then to be understood" -
- Avoid criticism whenever possible/offer support first and
suggestions later if requested: avoid advice unless it is
- Support: That must be awfully hard to do...
- Advice: Have you ever thought of redoing the
plumbing in your house. I know someone who does
that type of work.
RELATIONSHIP SEARCH ACTION PLAN
Counseling can help you
with this action plan by supporting you, helping
stay focused, helping you increase your relationship
knowledge and skills
and work through relationship issues that
may be in your way.
Please read the section In
search of a Healthy Relationship: Relationship
Search Tips for Singles first then complete
1) Places or activities
I will attend to meet new people:
2) Number of new people I will introduce myself
to each time I go to places or activities.
3) No. of times per week I will commit to activities
to meet new people.
4) Other interests I will explore in order to
bring more people into my life
to have as friends and potential dating partners.