8 Things People With Social Anxiety Want You To Know

For many people, socializing helps them let go of their daily stress and just chill — and they have no idea how lucky they are. Social anxiety is a very real disorder that affects millions, and it makes even just hanging out incredibly scary for us. People who don’t understand it often think we’re stuck up or don’t like them, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are some of the most important things people with social anxiety want you to know so that you can understand us better.

  1. You see a fun party full of laughter; we see a terrifying room full of people laughing at us. When we walk into a crowded room, we’re already nervous and scared. When we see that big group of people laughing and then one of them looks at us, our brains automatically connect the dots. They’re looking at me and laughing: they’re laughing at me. Does my outfit or hair look ridiculous? Help!
  2. Yes, we really do want to stay home on Friday night. It sounds boring to you, but home is our sanctuary. Home is our safe place where no one’s laughing at us and we don’t have to impress anyone. We could suck it up and go to the noisy club with you where we’ll feel completely uncomfortable, but we’d rather save ourselves some money and a heart attack and stay in. If you’re one of our closest friends, we may invite you over for dinner as an alternative.
  3. If we’re comfortable enough around you to invite you over, you should be glad. Again, home is our safe place. It’s a sign of trust if we invite you in. Don’t turn your nose up at the invitation because you think going out is the only way to have fun. We tend to prefer one-on-one interaction with someone we trust because it’s more comfortable for us, and that’s when you’ll see our true personalities.
  4. You didn’t notice it at work, and there’s a reason for that. For many of us, social anxiety doesn’t affect us as much at work because business is business. We’re at the office for a purpose — to make money and build our careers — and many of us are more comfortable with professional interaction. We can even excel at interaction-based careers such as sales, management and customer service, but that confidence doesn’t follow us out of the office. You’ll notice the difference if we go to a social event with everyone from the office after work.
  5. When you have to cancel our plans to go out, we’re relieved, so don’t feel bad. You think you’re being a terrible friend by cancelling on dinner at the last minute, but we’ve spent the last half hour stressing about going to a crowded restaurant and checking the mirror 15 times to make sure we look okay. When we get that “Sorry, I can’t make it” text, our socially anxious brains give a great big sigh of relief.
  6. We don’t dislike you or think we’re better than you. It’s a common misconception about wallflowers and people with social anxiety that we’re standoffish because we’re stuck up or dislike you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we’re standoffish because our anxiety is telling us that you probably think you’re better than us and don’t want to be around us. If you take the time to hang out with us one-on-one and let us know that you like us, we’ll start to feel more comfortable and build trust.
  7. We do want to have friendships and relationships. It’s just really scary for us to talk to big groups of people or hang out in crowded places. We’re always more comfortable in one-on-one situations and we love hanging out at home. This can be beneficial if you’re trying to date someone with social anxiety, because we love having an inexpensive home cooked dinner and watching a movie on the couch instead of going out. This is NOT, however, an invitation to “Netflix and chill” on the first date in an attempt to have a quick hookup.
  8. When you’ve gained our trust, we’re the best friends you’ll ever have. Once the trust has been established, we’ll be comfortable around you and show you how funny, quirky and fun we can be. We’re also extremely loyal friends who will be there the second you say you need someone to talk to, and we spend more time listening than talking so we usually have good advice. When it comes to friends, we’d rather have 4 quarters than a hundred pennies. In that same regard, we strive to be that “quarter” friend to those we trust and care about.
Anna Martin Yonk is a freelance writer and blogger in sunny North Carolina. She loves hanging out with her goofy husband and two rescue dogs and can be found at the beach with a drink in hand whenever possible. You can find her on Instagram @mrsyonkdogmom or on her Facebook page.