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Old 11-15-2009
 

My boyfriend has social anxiety disorder and I am completely overwhelmed by it. I have researched the disorder and am trying to understand it but itís just so difficult to live with. I am a very sociable person and love going out and meeting new people, but my boyfriend Will hardly ever take me out (very rarely when its something he wants to do, or thatís how it seems) and despite being together for 2 years has still not met my parents as he says he cannot imagine a more awkward situation. He will go out and so******e with his friends and go to functions with them, which in turn made me paranoid about myself...is it me he does not want to be seen with??? I have said this to him and he gets frustrated and thinks I donít care or understand what he feels like. This has caused me to become depressed and I feel like his negativity is rubbing off on me massively. I just donít know what to do to help him get through this. My train of thought is positive mental attitude will get you through difficult situations and that we all go through situations we donít want to and feel uncomfortable with, but we do it. I know this is the wrong attitude to have and will sound like I am selfish and not attentive to his problems and needs, but I canít help it, I am very sympathetic and patient with him but Itís so frustrating to live with. I love my boyfriend very much but every symptom of this disorder is grinding our relationship down. He will lie in bed for days on end. Refuses to even try to get a job, Is negative about everything, I understand these are all symptoms of the disorder but I donít know how to deal with this. It feels like sometimes he uses it as an excuse not to do things. He says that he does not feel emotions like excitement anymore and everyday is just dull which he says comes from the medication and that makes me feel like I canít make him happy. We have a very loving relationship and when we are alone together everything is perfect. But a relationship canít survive with just spending time alone together, especially as I am craving social interaction with him. He wonít meet any of my friends which poses awkward questions from them and I have to go to events on my own while all my other friends bring their boyfriends. Itís very lonely sometimes even though I could not ask for a more loving caring person to be with. He refuses to allow me to so******e with him and his friends and wonít even admit that he has a girlfriend to them, as he says it will be awkward. I feel as though he is embarrassed of me and when I confronted him with this he says its is his anxiety of people asking him questions etc We discuss our future and he will say things like he will never get married like a big white wedding because he couldnít face the situation. I canít imagine being him and having to deal with all this going on inside my head on a daily basis and sympathise immensely, however I canít help thinking inside 'just do it'. I feel like my boyfriend is selfish as we never do anything I want to do and feel awful for feeling like this as I know he cannot help it. But it seems like my happiness and general state of mind is suffering also. I would never say half the things I have written here to him, as I have touched on it sometimes and the response is always greeted with aggression and frustration at my lack of understanding. But I am trying. If anyone has any advice or has lived with someone with this before please please please please respond. I am at a loss at what to do. He has attended cognitive therapy and said it was a waste of time and said that because he did not want to talk about it with the therapist he played down his feelings etc and in turn she basically said there is nothing wrong with him. If only she had asked me I would have had some one to vent to and inform of his difficulties. I have no one to share this with as my boyfriend is VERY embarrassed by this and would hate the thought of me telling anyone. I need some advice on coping with this as I feel like my life is constantly on hold because of this disorder. I accept my boyfriend for who he is but need to know how to help him and me get through this.
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Old 11-15-2009
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As someone on the other end (I have a very sociable partner as well), I have to agree with you, it sounds like your bf has given up and is using his S.A. to quit trying (although I can't say this with certainty as I don't know the complete workings of his S.A.). Any cognitive behavior therapist will tell him that if he doesn't make an effort to socialize, it's not going to get better, and frankly, it's not fair that instead of trying to understand your point of view, he gets angry and blames YOU for not understanding HIM. It takes two to tango.

If you ask me, it's just not going to work if he isn't willing to try because I don't see how you can possibly continue to stay in a relationship where you're doing all the sacrificing.

It will be difficult for him, and it probably always will be. I understand that. My boyfriend has a HUGE, very, very social family who all live next door to eachother on what they call "The Hill" and my bf is a musician so he makes a lot of drunk, boisterous friends. Believe me, I've had my share of spending hours with these people in complete discomfort, wanting to cry and wishing I could go home. But I did it, I lived through it, and it does get easier with time.

If you can, try easing him into social situations. Do things with him that cause slight anxiety until he's comfortable enough to try something a little harder. Maybe take him out in public just the two of you, and then introduce him to one friend, then maybe a social outing with that one friend (by all means, do not do what my bf did and shove him into a room with 7 or 8 people - it's overwhelming and it's hard to give him support when you have that many people to pay attention to), and so forth. Again, this all depends on his willingness to put forth effort.

Also, I know it's hard to make yourself believe this, by I do think that he tells you the truth when he tells you it's not you. I really doubt that he's embarrassed by you and his statements that it makes him anxious to answer questions about you seems genuine. I know the feeling.

I wish I knew this guy so that I could write him a letter or something seeing as I think I could relate to him and help him get a little courage to take that first step out, or at least to contemplate it.
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Old 11-15-2009
 

Thank you so much for your response. I was so worried that i would come across as a complete selfish idiot when i wrote this. And its so good to hear from you, just hearing someone else that experiences the difficulties but can understand mine and his point of view seems like such a relief, and i am definately going to take your advise!!!! This is the person i want to spend the rest of my life with and refuse to give up on him, but always find myself giving into him which on reflection and reading your message i suppose is not helping at all. You sound like you are coping very well and its so amazing to hear and i hope that continues for you. I am going to tell him of this site and hopefully speaking to others will help him also. Thanks again so much for your response. I feel like a weight has been lifted already just sharing this with someone who understands.
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Old 11-15-2009
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Just by posting this message in such desperation it shows that you care about him a lot!

I agree with everything Harleyq has to say, really. He can't just hide away all his life and give up. I'm sure with you supporting him, he'll be able to take the steps out there to get better with this.
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Old 11-15-2009
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Try to encourage him to get help, some tharapy and maybe meds... support him a lot, and try not to take his actions personally. He has nothing against you, and i'm sure he would like to do the things he can't do, but his anxiety keeps him from doing them. It's really painful for a person to go through that, i'm sure he is very happy to have you with him.
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Old 11-15-2009
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by betty21 View Post
He will go out and so******e with his friends and go to functions with them, which in turn made me paranoid about myself...is it me he does not want to be seen with???
This might be an anxiety thing; i.e. he feels comfortable around his friends and will hang out with them, however, he is not comfortable around your friends and as a result will not hang out with you and your friends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by betty21 View Post
He will lie in bed for days on end. Refuses to even try to get a job, Is negative about everything, I understand these are all symptoms of the disorder but I donít know how to deal with this. It feels like sometimes he uses it as an excuse not to do things. He says that he does not feel emotions like excitement anymore and everyday is just dull which he says comes from the medication and that makes me feel like I canít make him happy.
This could be from his medication, but it sounds like he is depressed. People who are depressed refuse to do anything because they are so depressed. This is a very difficult situation to be in. Have you expressed your concern and how much it hurts you to see him this way? Tell him it just tears you up inside. I imagine you have already, but be sure to express it in this way as it heightens the chance he will talk about, rather than avoid, his problems.


Quote:
Originally Posted by betty21 View Post
He refuses to allow me to so******e with him and his friends and wonít even admit that he has a girlfriend to them, as he says it will be awkward. I feel as though he is embarrassed of me and when I confronted him with this he says its is his anxiety of people asking him questions etc
This raises a bit of a red flag and is concerning that he won't even tell his friends about you. Men feel awkward about this at times, but just about every man in the world is proud that he has a woman in his life.

[/quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by betty21 View Post
We discuss our future and he will say things like he will never get married like a big white wedding because he couldnít face the situation. I canít imagine being him and having to deal with all this going on inside my head on a daily basis and sympathise immensely, however I canít help thinking inside 'just do it'. I feel like my boyfriend is selfish as we never do anything I want to do and feel awful for feeling like this as I know he cannot help it.
This is again very concerning, especially for women. Avoiding a wedding simply because you are embarrassed to be married in front of people is allowing a disorder to run your life.

Overall, this is a tough situation to be in. The therapist has been mildly helpful, if at all. The only thing that I could suggest would be to seek counseling together (this focuses less on techniques and more on creating happiness in one's life). If your boyfriend refuses this, you're almost at the point where you will have to threaten that you will leave because nothing else will work. Sometimes, when you make threats like that, people's eyes will awaken and they will realize how much they are hurting everyone else around them, but it is not a guarantee this will happen. I'm sorry you've had such a hard time, but there really are not many other options that you have here.

What you do is your choice. You can stick with him and he might change, or he might not sometime in the future. Or, you can suggest counseling and that you will have to leave for your own piece of mind, but again, he only "might" change. Choose what you want and be sure to ask questions if you have any.
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Old 11-15-2009
 

Thank you all for your advice and help. Its certainly given me things to think about and try. Thanks for not just thinking am an awful judgemental person, which is how i feel some times when i think these things. The joint counselling is a brilliant idea, thanks so much Dan, i am definately going to try and get him to do this with me. I think maybe it may be easier for him to go to counselling etc if i am there. He relies on me an awful lot, shopping for him, speaking for him etc but i think that if i was to get counselling with him he may feel more comfortable speaking, he says i am the only person he trusts and the only person that really knows him. And it feels like a big responsibility some times as when he is down he 'relies on me for relief' from his depression and if i cant make it to see him he puts so much pressure on me even threatening to take an overdose once. He needs help and i am going to try and get him that help. Even if it means our relationship doesnt last. Thanks again to you all!!!
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Old 11-16-2009
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Everyone is giving good advice here! One thought I had is to try writing him a letter telling him how you feel and suggesting some resolutions you have been recommended. If you really lay it out there how you feel about all this, but maintain a positive loving tone indicative that you really want to save the future of your relationship. I know that when my boyfriend confronts me about how my disorder makes him feel, I do get defensive and angry at times... but I still listen to what he is saying... even if it doesn't seem to him like I care at the time. Later I can think back on it and take it to heart. To avoid a confrontation, try giving him the chance to read through your letter whenever he feels comfortable and ready. That way all he can do is pay attention to what you wish to tell him and he can't argue or get aggressive with you. Just give him some time and space to absorb it all. That is all I can say! Just continue to reassure him how much you love him and that you want to help your relationship from diminishing. I really feel for your situation, as I am kind of going through the same thing from the other side right now. My boyfriend doesn't know what to do to help me, but is willing to sacrifice anything to stay with me. I am trying my hardest to get through it with him, but for awhile I was content enough to let him suffer for me. It is not going to be easy by any means, but if you love him, that conquers all. Best of luck!
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Old 11-16-2009
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Maybe introduce him to the social phobia community (support groups, forums, chats) if he isn't already involved. Not only could the people there relate to him and supply advice, but it would provide him with a new perspective as well. He probably knows that other people share his problem, but actually talking with them would make it seem more real. In this way he would recognize that his problem is not a psychological anomaly and that many people with the same problem actually put effort towards recovery, often succeeding at attaining an impressive level of normalcy.

As it is, you can tell him whatever you like, but he will always see it as coming from someone who "just can't imagine what what I'm going throughh." ..Get rid of the us vs them mentality... don't let him get comfortably settled with social phobia as his personal identity, which somehow is supposed to make him exempt from the rules of common courtesy.
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Old 11-16-2009
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Something to keep in mind, Betty: I know you've got a frustrating role ahead of you, being the one support to a sociophobe, but patience is extremely important. It won't be an easy ride and it could be a long time before you see an improvement in your boyfriend. As we are told, it would take years to bring down the walls we've built up in our heads over an entire lifetime to "protect" us. You're making a big commitment to him but it'll be so liberating for you both when he is comfortable enough to experience life with you. If both of you keep at it he might even improve enough to open up to someone else, taking a bit of the pressure off you to look after him. No guarantees, however. Also until he can generate his own 'positive mental attitude', yours will have to suffice.

On a side note, you're probably one of the, if not the best thing that's ever happened to him. I highly doubt he is embarrassed by you at all, just afraid of his of his own reactions when one world (you) meets the other (his mates). Christ, the number of people on this site who'd feel as blessed to even find a loving partner at all, let alone one who is as accepting of their disorder as you.
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Old 11-16-2009
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I think you need to encourage him into taking steps towards conquering the disorder. It sounds like he's just given up and accepted things how they are. Try to find ways to encourage or reward him for each step he takes. And remember it happens in steps. Big jumps might set things backwards. Of course it's not your job to do the work for him, you're not his mother or anything, so if he refuses, or doesn't seem to appreciate your help, then screw him and let him sink to the bottom without dragging you down. It's a daily struggle and requires daily effort so I guess as long as you see him making effort don't give up on him.
Also him threatening to overdose is a bunch of bullshit you don't have to put up with. That really to me sounds like someone who's just given up and wants you to take care of him forever so he never has to make an effort to overcome his own problem.
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Old 11-16-2009
Lea
 

With all the respect to his problems, he sounds a bit like an emotional vampire to me. Whatever you do, it will never be enough... Over the course of years the result might be, that he will drain all of your energy from you and you will end up like him, if not worse. Sorry if that sounds cruel, but I believe it's true.
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Old 11-16-2009
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I tend to agree with Lea's post above, however I would set a period of time in which you'll give it a solid effort and him a solid chance to make some progress, and when that times up if you don't see any changes in sight or anything progressing, I'd get far away from the situation.
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Old 11-16-2009
 

Well you really deserve a lot of credit for deciding to help him even if it means your relationship won't last! That's a very selfless act!
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Old 11-16-2009
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Betty you seem to be taking the role of his therapist on, if he's not prepared to put anything in to improving do not take it onto yourself to improve him, he needs a wakeup call, I pretty much agree with Lea too
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Old 11-16-2009
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Well said Remus.
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Old 11-16-2009
 

Hi there im new to the boards and I recently saw your thred 'how to cope with..'

Just thought I would let you know that you are not alone. My boyfriend also has social anxiety. For most of it hes housebound.

I will have been going out with him for a year in January and he too is too anxious to meet my parents or friends.

I have a form of social anxiety myself so I do know how hard it can be although mine is purely just about going to work and the implications it might have on me. Although It can be hard I don't think what you were saying about wanting to go out to social events with him etc. is selfish. Its probobly best you dont voice it to him however, he could go on the defensive as it might feel like hes being accussed when he cant help it.

I used to feel selfish for thinking things like that too and although it is hard for him it is a normal for you to feel that you want to go out and do things with your boyfriend.

I can totally sympathise with you. I've gone over in my mind worrying time and time again about all those awkward questions from friends....'how come we havent met your boyfriend yet' and 'ooooh bring your bf along we want to meet him!' I also dread people asking about how he is because I feel like I look like im covering something up. It isnt too bad because my close friends and family know about his situation buit the thoughts still haunt me.

Hes suppossed to be starting therapy soon, I worry in case it doesnt work although I have had therapy myself for general anxiety and the same therapy he would be having has helped me tremendously so im thinking more positively then negatively at the moment.

I really hope your boyfriend pulls through this, I wish you the very best of luck with everything. If its any constellation with the whole not telling people he has a gf etc. my boyfriend was like that for a while when he was on the phone to me if his parents came in he would hide the phone. He would also pretend he was talking to his dad if one of his friends ever came round....i know how rejected it can make you feel and a lot of the time angry...i realised however that he is probobly just really embarressed and thinks people would laugh at him about how he can have a gf in the situation hes in and all the awkward questions. Everyone knows about me now but it took a while. Im sure its just because of his social anxiety situation that things are the way they are.

I wish you all the best.
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Old 11-16-2009
 

I cant believe how helpful and supportive i have found your replies. Everything said here makes sooo much sense and i have so many new starting points to think about and try. I have read these in floods of tears as it just seems like such a relief to have found this site and people who go through this, understand and experience it. i just dont know if all the lows are worth the very rare highs. But i dont want to let him down and break his trust as i think that would do a lot of harm. Like you say i feel like sometimes the life is being sucked out of me but hopefully i have it within me to help. Thankyou all for your reassurance and guidance and i hope to have some positive things to share with you!!!
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Old 11-16-2009
 

I've felt at times really emotionally drained by the whole thing too, it can be very hard to deal with. My boyfriend didnt want to tell any of his family so I am the only one who knows. It can be a massive burden knowing that your the only one who can encourage and support the person.

You sound like a really lovely person to have stuck with him through this. People have said the same thing to me and I dont think I gave myself enough credit for how much I have actually tryed to help and understand. Even if your boyfriend gets annoyed or frustrated at you for not understanding just remember you are trying your best and that is all anyone can ask of you. You have been being really supportive and kind throughout the whole thing. So dont ever think anything badly about yourself or beat yourself up if sometimes you dont understand some of the things hes going through. I dont understand a lot of the things my boyfriend has issues with and unless you go through it i dont really think anyone can fully. You deserve a massive hug!!

No matter what happens always remember that. I really hope your boyfriend pulls through and remember there are people that understand. PM me if you ever want to talk
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Old 11-16-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betty21 View Post
But i dont want to let him down and break his trust as i think that would do a lot of harm.
I don't see it that way. Like others have said I think it would be a wake up call. It might be the event he needs to happen to realize he needs to finally work to make change.
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