Join 3,560 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


dating for dummies
May 10, 2010 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I have almost no dating experience, mainly due to my social anxiety and fear of intimacy. How can I pursue this relationship...?

First off, I have moderate to severe social anxiety. I hide it fairly well by not getting too close to people, and avoiding situations where I know my anxiety will be too severe to contain. Basically now I'm 25, have essentially always been single, and don't have an idea of how a relationship works, especially for people who enjoy time alone, and aren't super chatty.

Even when I'm with my close friends, hanging out 1-on-1, I feel the need to keep the conversation going constantly - and to always keep things light and funny. It's draining and I can't imagine trying to keep a conversation flowing with a partner throughout the day.

Sooo this past weekend, I went for drinks with a friend who I see only a couple times a year. I've always had a bit of a thing for her - she's attractive, smart, funny, and we get along great. She's also always in a relationship. Well, at the end of the night, we were both a bit tipsy, and she told me out of nowhere that she had feelings for me, and we ended up kissing for awhile, before she left telling me to come visit her soon.

Sooo now I feel like I'm in way over my head. I wanted this to happen for awhile, and now that it did I'm completely terrified. How do I act when I see her next? What're we going to do when we're sober? Am I going to panic and have a meltdown and reveal what a mental case I am?

So how do I proceed from here? I seriously have no sense of what to do, when to call, how to act, bla. I know I'm overthinking and that she likes me and I like her and that should be it. But I could really use some advice from people who've been here, or are here.

Anyways, thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Take a look at how the situation has unfolded. She is attracted to who you are and how you have acted around her. Don't panic and don't change.
posted by fire&wings at 4:16 PM on May 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


If you're close friends, she probably understands more about you that you might realize. If you're still worried she doesn't understand enough of what is going on inside you, tell her. She should be understanding.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:20 PM on May 10, 2010


It's not entirely your responsibility to make things work, either. Just be yourself. If it's really draining being with her, then she's not right for you.
posted by ServSci at 4:21 PM on May 10, 2010


You're in a great position -- It's great that she's already your friend. She knows you. And she likes you! Congrats! Because she already knows you and likes you, you can talk to her about this. Tell her you're nervous. Tell her you don't know how to proceed. See what she has to say about this.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:23 PM on May 10, 2010


Am I going to panic and have a meltdown
You might, you might not. But you'll still be you, and she's still going to like you.
now I feel like I'm in way over my head
Yeah, that's how everyone feels when they've just realised the person they really like likes them back. She probably feels the same way.

Fantastic isn't it?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:25 PM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you run out of things to talk about, try making out with her.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:26 PM on May 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


first off, congratulations! someone you're interested in is also interested in you. that's a great start.

if i were you, i'd consider telling her that you're completely terrified, that you're afraid you're going to panic and have a meltdown and then she'll know what a mental case you are. i suspect she'll laugh, tell you she's nervous, too, and then take it from there.

just fyi: when i feel like i have to constantly chatter, it's generally because i'm nervous. the time you spend with someone *not* talking--not because you're in a liplock but because you're comfortable in someone else's presence--is as important as the time you spend in conversation.

good luck!
posted by msconduct at 4:26 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Try not panicking. If she's known you for a while and has feelnings for you, then she knows who you are and how you are and likes it. therefore, you have nothing to panic about. The next time you see her, just act like you have feelings for her and things should be ok.

without more information, there isn't a lot a person can say about "what to do, when to call, how to act, bla." I mean, where does she live? when will you see her next? how often will you see her in the future?

if I were you I'd contact her soon, within a day or two, and tell her you're glad you guys go to hang out when she visited and that you'd like to visit her soon. there's no need to go into detail. She remembers what you guys did so you don't have to remind her, and now it's just about figuring out how to do that again, since you both want to. I would make plans to visit her when you can. then i would visit her. then i would get it on like donkey kong.

you will both enjoy this and be happy about it. so remind yourself of that and look forward to it, is my recommendation. two people who are into each other can be nervous and that's ok, but just act like who you've been all this time, because that's who she digs so everything should work out ok, so long as you don't let your nervousness take complete control.

really, the way these things tend to work is that you go out and do something you both enjoy, you have a good time doing that just like normal. you flirt and talk about each other in highly complimentary ways and then at some point you go someplace private and do whatever feels right and comfortable, no more. don't worry about impressing her, you've already done that. don't worry about bothering her, if she's bothered she'll let you know and you guys can do something else. just have fun and do what comes naturally.

I'm willing to bet she has some idea bout your social anxiety and is not only willing but eager to help you through this. some people find that cute.
posted by shmegegge at 4:28 PM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is rather awesome and congratulations on finding out their is a mutual attraction and interest between the two of you. That said, I understand your fears, and while they maybe heightened because of your social anxiety, they are the same exact fears, doubts, and insecurities everyone has when it comes to new relationships, whether the person is a good friend or a complete stranger. In the beginning, this will be work and you may have some awkward moments. As you transition into a romantic relatio

If you haven't discussed your social anxiety, it might be good to do so at some point, but really saying, "I wanted this to happen for awhile, and now that it did I'm a bit terrified," is not all that odd or unusual. Best to leave out the word "completely" because it might come off as sounding a little too negative, but be honest, have fun, and things will work out. Call her, make plans to see her, and go from there. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 4:49 PM on May 10, 2010


How do I act when I see her next? What're we going to do when we're sober? Am I going to panic and have a meltdown and reveal what a mental case I am?

You'll be fine.

I know this is going to sound like a banal, useless piece of advice, but be yourself. It wouldn't be such an oft-repeated phrase if there wasn't any truth to it. She likes you - so don't rush to change anything about yourself. And seriously - you'll be fine. Wait a couple of days and then ask her if she's doing anything over the weekend. Most dating advice is worthless, in my opinion. Improvise - you like her, she likes you - and find something that will be fun for both of you. It could end up working wonderfully. Don't try to force anything - sangfroid and coolness are attributes that come from being confident and secure. It's easy to figure out if someone is out of his element and trying too hard.

First off, I have moderate to severe social anxiety

This is where I think you'll benefit from experience. If you like this person, just go for it. The first time you put yourself in new social situations it can be really uncomfortable. I liken it to jumping into cold water - it's jarring at first, but you adjust. The more time you spend sitting on the edge of the pool worrying about the water temperature, the more difficult it's going to be. Just jump in. You'll learn a lot about yourself and you'll probably end up having fun, too.

And learn to laugh at yourself. It's the best way to defuse a tense social situation, and most of the time people will laugh right with you. Friendship and romance aren't these idealized dreams you see on celluloid - everybody messes up, and some of our goofs are hilarious. I met my first girlfriend after I slipped on some asshole's spilled soda and fell down the stairs - I broke a wrist, but I got the girl, so to speak.

Last thing: if you fail, it doesn't matter. Your self-worth is not defined by your relationship status. If you're happy being single, stay single. Failure is not permanent, and handling it with equanimity is one of the best things you can do.

You're more interesting than you give yourself credit for, and you have nothing to lose but a couple of hours and a few bucks, so pursue this opportunity.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 4:50 PM on May 10, 2010


Even when I'm with my close friends, hanging out 1-on-1, I feel the need to keep the conversation going constantly - and to always keep things light and funny. It's draining and I can't imagine trying to keep a conversation flowing with a partner throughout the day.

By the time they're your partner, you have no need to try and keep the conversation going all day. Once you're in a relationship, you will eventually turn down the impress-her-constantly dial and things will get more relaxed. You hang out, cuddle, watch a movie, spend time together while doing different things, whatever. Obviously you do your best to have fun and talk about interesting things, but that stress of interacting with people (especially acquaintances) sort of vanishes. Tons of really really introverted people have very intimate relationships with their SO, and still can't deal with socializing with other people. Anyway, it sounds like this isn't an immediate problem for you since you're still in the beginning stage of this potential relationship, but it's not something you should be even close to worrying about at this point.

Also, do NOT act ashamed or embarrassed about anything you did or said while drunk. It happened! And you both are happy about it.
posted by mokudekiru at 4:57 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're going to get some relationship experience no matter what happens. Both of you will probably not be working off the magical script of perfection...meaning, both of you will screw things up here and there. Also, this is probably not the girl of your dreams. Meaning, this is very likely the first of many experiences with many people. Go into this knowing that some things will go right and some things will go wrong, and you'll learn from those wrongs and not do them in the next situation (where the next girl will have no idea that you just learned this thing). And if you're at all smart or sensible, you'll have a pretty good sense of what's way out of bounds crazy behavior. Everything else is both explainable and forgivable. Truly.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2010


Congratulations! You are in a great situation right now. Bask in it and have a sandwich in the meantime.

And then go for it. For background, I too am/was very prone to being very anxious in social situations, and treasure time alone - to the point that without it I go pretty seriously crazy. I've gone both ways - I've given full disclosure of the fact that I had no idea what to do and was totally freaking out. And the girl was incredibly understanding (because it was likely stating the obvious). I'd recommend something else though - depending on how serious your anxiety is, you might have an opportunity to build a relationship in which it doesn't impact you as severely by acting like the person you want to be around this wonderful girl. Of course, it all depends on you - there's a whole spectrum of anxiety for a whole bunch of causes.

Also: people think about the best and worst parts of experiences and the average of their emotions - the road between those things, whether it be moments of awkwardness or silence you'd rather avoid, is either forgotten entirely or it actually adds to the situation by showing that everyone's human. In short, care about having fun and being a good person - those things count so much more than social quibbles that good people don't notice the latter.
posted by tmcw at 6:10 PM on May 10, 2010


Just Breath

It is thrilling that you've made this connection... now... relax...

There is no prescribed route to making a relationship work.. be yourself...be honest... delight in what you have...
posted by HuronBob at 6:20 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Go for it with the caveat that if she lives far away, she may just be wanting to have a hookup when you guys are in the same town thing, not a relationship, so approach with a bit of caution (but don't freak out, just don't come on too commitmenty). Just play it by ear.
posted by ishotjr at 8:17 PM on May 10, 2010


Even when I'm with my close friends, hanging out 1-on-1, I feel the need to keep the conversation going constantly - and to always keep things light and funny.

One of the things you learn to do once you're able to build up your confidence a little is to not feel overwhelmed by silences. It's normal for conversation to ebb and flow and change direction. Silences may seem very anxiety-producing, but most of the time they're natural.


It's draining and I can't imagine trying to keep a conversation flowing with a partner throughout the day.

Just piggybacking on what mokudekiru said. One of the things that happens in relationships after a while, as you both become more secure in it, is that you learn to share space but separately, like you watching TV while she reads or vice-versa. You will connect again and again, but don't always have to be 'on'.

It's early yet for you two, but go for it and enjoy.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:15 PM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


congrats and cheers. You're post could be a very sucinct description of my life and social problems except I have no lady prospects (you lucky bastard :) )

I have nothing to add except my concern over this statement: "She's also always in a relationship." which I am surprised no one brought up earlier.

Maybe I am reading it wrong, but I can read this two ways:

1) less likely but more troubling... she's not in a relationship with someone else at the moment... right? rrrright? Good, Didn't think so. If that is the case... well its a bad idea, especially for your first serious relationship, will put a bad taste in your mouth to be the "other man" (or to know there is possibly "another man")

2) Most likely you are saying she is always "in and out" of relationships (and currently out of one... perhaps just out of one?) If this is the case then be prepared... she may not be as emotionally invested as you will be. Especially since she is "visiting from out of town" If you are like me (sounds like it) you would be devastated if you find out she is flighty or on the rebound or something and things don't work out after seeming to go so well.

DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU. Just be prepared if you are the intense, anxious type to have fun for the moment, get some good experience, and don't go off the deep end if the "worst" should happen. Remember, its not your fault and if you play it cool no matter what, good things will happen. But if you go nuts the word will spread. Conversely, if your cool and stay friendly even if it breaks your heart, the word will spread...
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:55 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW - by "be cool" I don't mean pretend you're not Anxious... that's natural and fine, be yourself and use that energy.

by "go nuts" I mean have malice towards her if things fizzle because she just wants a light relationship or whatever... basically what ishotjr said.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 10:01 PM on May 10, 2010


From lack of experience (and a diet of the same movies everyone sees on big screen) you probably have an idea in your head about how "a relationship" is supposed to work, what steps follow what in dating and if you do everything right it all ends up in a big white wedding. The problem is, it usually doesn't work that way at all.
Relationships are like plants, they grow in all sorts of directions and very often they just stop growing because one or both of you have decided it's not a good fit. This is normal.

Set yourself realistic goals. That is, don't set yourself the goal of making her the love of your life that lasts forever. Perhaps she is only in for a brief romance or a rebound relationship.
A more realistic goal would be to learn about love and have lots of invaluable experiences - and have fun.

You say you have a fear of intimacy. Force yourself to communicate. If you are nervous now, tell her. Obviously, don't constantly monitor your feelings and deliver reports to her. But if you are feeling something strongly, get in the habit of sharing it with her.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:01 AM on May 11, 2010


It sounds like she wants to take the lead, which is perfect for a dude in your shoes. Just relax, and be yourself (because she's attracted to you!)

Also, don't feel pressured to keep a conversation going 24/7. Hold hands, and watch a movie.
posted by schmod at 8:30 AM on May 11, 2010


You might try, after a few dates, being honest about your situation. If she really likes you, she'll help you put it all together so that you can date an enjoy each other. That's the theory, anyway...
posted by Citrus at 1:55 PM on May 11, 2010


I've always had a bit of a thing for her - she's attractive, smart, funny, and we get along great. She's also always in a relationship. Well, at the end of the night, we were both a bit tipsy, and she told me out of nowhere that she had feelings for me, and we ended up kissing for awhile, before she left telling me to come visit her soon.

Tell her she's attractive, smart, funny, and, separately, you've always had a bit of a thing for her, when you email her to figure out a time to visit. I think she'll take care of the rest.
posted by theora55 at 1:55 PM on May 11, 2010


« Older so we all know lots of songs a...   |  Can I find shoes in a specific... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.