Han I explain social anxiety to my parents?
August 11, 2013 8:48 PM Subscribe
My significant other has social anxiety. I think my parents take it personally. How can I explain this is not about them?
posted by anonymous to human relations (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The long version: BF and I have been living together for a year and a half, and I had initially chalked up his issues with my parents as residual issues because his ex's parents were horrible to him, and his own mother is a bit of a piece of work. But last week, at his parents, I noticed his father exhibiting many of the same behaviours he does---there were six eating, talking people in a boisterous group the the table, and Dan's dad, letting is in, immediately wincing at the noise when he closed the door, and then retreating to the other room to read his book and ignore the lot of them. Hmm. Interesting.
BF has been in therapy and has made some progress. There are a few special snowflake issues I won't get into here, but the short version is a) he is made some progress b) he will come to my stuff when it's really important to me, if I ask him and c) when it's NOT really important, I don't ask him and everyone is happier that way.
So here is my dilemma. I get it. I do. His family is small, mine is large and messy. People come up to him and hug him, uninvited. They talk loudly and he gets overstimulated by the noise. This is never going to be his favourite thing to do, but I am learning also that it is a two-way street: he has to stretch for me, but I have to respect HIS needs too and be judicious in when I play that card and ask him to. And that means I can't expect him to come every time.
But when he doesn't come, I get all sorts of questions about what he's doing and where he is. And I think some people---my mother, especially---are at the point where we have been together awhile and they all know him now so they figure it's fine and what's the big. They take it personally, and I can't seem to find a way to explain to them that it's nothing personal and this is just something that's hard for him.
I am actually okay with the compromise he and I have right now for when he comes and when he doesn't. It's a fair one, and I know he is working toward making it even fairer. And, if it were not for my dread of dealing with the pestery questions, I actually do have more fun going alone sometimes, because then I don't have to worry about who he is talking to and whether he is having fun. But those pestery questions ARE very pestery. And I don't know how to head them off in a way that won't ruffle feathers. How can I best explain this to my family?