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Dating with Social Anxiety

Can we all agree that dating is nerve-wracking? Like, seriously. There is all this unpredictability in it, which, to a person who actually enjoys organized structure, is a nightmare. Never mind that I have social anxiety, which adds on an extra layer of hell.

It’s hard to even start dating, honestly. I can’t even begin to talk to a guy I find attractive. It’s like the words don’t come out. And I try to go into the group, and there I am, the silent observer. Try going to a small party, barely fifteen people, and not talking to anyone, even though you have something in common with every single person there.  So if something like that happens, how do you even approach that cute guy that works at the GSU or Fitrec info desk?

And even if for some reason I get the courage to go and talk to someone, which normally happens when my migraine medicines mix, increasing some levels in my brain (which – side note – makes me super happy to the point where I’m smiling at strangers), I can never follow up. What if our meeting didn’t mean as much to him as it meant to me? I normally rely on a sign from that person to judge that it meant something. There was a guy I met first semester, and he was cool, and the only reason why I even smile at him on the street now is because he smiled and said hi a week later. Those guys that never acknowledge me later, well I’m never going to say hi to you, because now I feel like you thought I was forgettable.

Then we go on to actually meeting a guy I’m interested in alone. Not as a date right now, but for any other reason. Or even talking to him further than hello. When I was sending messages to this one guy, I would try and play it cool, so that he wouldn’t think that I was too desperate. So I would message him at least twelve hours after he replied (though, if you know me well enough, I do this anyways). And every time he would wait an hour to reply, I would start thinking that I said something wrong. I blew it. I shouldn’t talk to people. I Should just stay in my room forever.

Then sometimes I actually get to meet the person face to face. I always get there early, and grab a book to read, or a textbook to study, so I look busy, like they aren’t that important (when in actuality, I was mentally prepping for this all day – making pointers in my head about conversation topics and running things over a million and ten times).  Then I start to panic slowly. He’s late. Did he just not want to show? What happened? Then I get scared that the people around me think that I’ve been stood up. And then he shows up, and I immediately look down at my book, hoping he approaches me, instead of having to scream his name out and beckon him over. Which would be the worst, because what if he doesn’t hear me and everyone around me does? What if I pronounce his name wrong (I still can’t pronounce my ex’s name right)?

And then I actually go on a date for once. Not meeting him as a friend because by God I would be a nervous wreck to ask him out to begin with. I actually asked a guy out once. Over the phone. I called him and the majority of the phone call was uhs and ums. Then I hung up and called my best friend, who yelled at me – leading me to call him again and ask him for reals. I was rejected, needless to say (it was also middle school, when I was pudgy with bangs until my neck).

I’ve only been able to get dates through Tinder so far, because I don’t even have the guts to ask out someone I know. And I’m too awkward for anyone to ask me out to begin with. So when I go on a date, it’s probably just the first time I’ll be seeing the person, ever. I’ve canceled so many dates for so many made-up reasons. Sometimes I say yes, and he cancels last minute, which makes me angry, and I avoid him as much as possible (unfortunately the guy I’m talking about has breakfast at the same time in the same place as me on Tuesdays, and it’s always awkward).

I actually went out once. Once. Which was after much debating with my roommate. She and I planned that she would bail me out in an hour if I responded to her text. If I didn’t, I was fine. Turns out that “date” was Netflix and chill; I wasn’t ready to chill. I told him I was super tired, and left. This year, we live in the same dorm, again. I successfully avoided him for half a semester, and now I run into him all the time. I don’t think he remembers me, but I don’t mind pretending to fill my water bottle up so I don’t end up in the same elevator as him.

Oh, and my ex? Yeah, he was my best friend for years before anything happened. So, for everyone out there with social anxiety, there’s hope if you destroy the friend zone. Otherwise, you’ll actually have to talk to someone.


And talking to people requires a morning of pep talks… so let’s just not.

Alizah Ali is a senior at BU. She's working on her biology-premed degree, which finds her often in the quietest parts of the library. She loves coffee and bunnies and running whenever the Boston weather lets her. She's a big advocate for mental health destigmatization and awareness. Follow her on instagram @lizza0419
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