Commit and shift

Joey Garcia

I’m a 22-year-old guy and I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’m afraid to talk to girls, so I avoid them. Even thinking about talking to a girl freaks me out. I do have social anxiety, but would like to get over it. How can I get into a relationship with a girl?

Break up with your social anxiety and create room in your life for a new relationship. Right now the connection between you and your anxiety is the primary relationship in your life. Let’s shift. Social anxiety ranks as the third most common psychological disorder, following depression and alcoholism. The good news is, it’s treatable. Cognitive behavioral therapy has helped millions. So it’s possible for you to significantly reduce and even eliminate anxiety’s hold. Commit to being consistent and persistent in guiding your brain to alter its habituated approach to social situations. Decide every day that your dream of being in a loving relationship is more important than social anxiety. When you feel anxious, remind yourself it’s an overused physiological experience and you have the power to choose a different response.

From one angle, anxiety is unused energy seeking an outlet. Exercise expends energy. Creative endeavors help, too. Writers who don’t make time to write will concoct dramatic stories in their heads, act as if those stories are true, begin to feel anxious, stressed or depressed, and create chaos in their relationships. So find time daily for exercise and creative expression. Dance, paint, play an instrument—any artistic endeavor counts.

The other curious thing is that social anxiety is an avoidance pattern intended to protect oneself from being judged. But assuming a woman is not safe to chat with is a judgment, right? Yes, it’s possible a woman you approach won’t be interested. She might even say something unkind. It’s also possible she will smile, chat a bit and still not be interested because she’s not attracted to you, or she already has a man. Rather than only believing something awful will happen, what if you allow all possibilities to exist in every moment? That’s living in reality, instead of in your head. Keep true love, in every healthy variation, among those possibilities and breaking up with anxiety will be easier.

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We were engaged but broke it off because he cheated. We made up and moved in together. I thought he cheated again (he insists he didn’t). I moved out. After a month apart we got back together. He’s been promoted, is moving out-of-state and invited me to come. I love him, but think it might be good to break things off. Should I go with him?

Go with your man after two years together without emotional earthquakes opening sinkholes beneath your feet. Or go because you want the steady drip of adrenaline coursing through you from this rollercoaster relationship. Stay, if you don’t trust him. If you’re beginning to understand that the two of you are attached, but not in love, stay. When you do break it off, don’t go back. Returning to him undermines your ability to trust yourself and to love, honor and care for you. 

Meditation of the week
“Sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on,” said spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. Can you see the ways other people have changed and you have not?

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.