Social Anxiety and Polyamory

grapevine50

New member
Hello, I'm a straight male, early 30s in the UK. I've been in a monogamous relationship for well over 10 years with my wife who I love and is my best friend. I also have pretty bad social anxiety which I'm going to therapy for but it takes a while. Recently my wife brought up that she would like to try polyamory and I couldn't be happier. I've wanted to be polyamorous for a very long time, but didn't quite know how to bring it up, and as we've spoken more about it it's brought us closer together and made us realise we have an amazing relationship.

I realise though that I've "hidden" behind monogamy because meeting people is so incredibly difficult for me, especially for romantic relationships or sex. I think being mono for so long has had its problems too. I really want to meet another partner so we can explore our sexual side together, but I don't know how I can do this.

I want to take things slow and get to know someone first, and as we are all locked down I thought now is a good time to meet and start messaging, and at most maybe go on a socially distanced walk. I tried online dating on a few apps including OKC but found the experience awful. It poked at my insecurities and it feels like I'm creating this false avatar to try and get people to like me, kind of like a puppy dancing for treats, which is something I really hate. Ironically, I think I'd fair way better meeting in person being myself but this isn't possible with the pandemic.

Is there anyone else who has social anxiety but manages to successfully meet others? How do you do it? Is there a better way of meeting people or making use of dating apps? Is there any advice for polyamory and social anxiety? I haven't found much online.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello grapevine50,

You might have better luck looking for a poly get-together group in your area. Try googling "polyamory" with the name of your nearest major city. Just keep in mind that poly groups might not be meeting at this time, due to Covid. You could also look for poly groups on Facebook, and/or FetLife. Then chat with people, via email or private messaging, just as platonic friends at first and then, who knows, maybe someday one of those platonic friendships will bloom into something romantic.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
 

BrokenArrow

Member
That sucks, dude. At least you're working towards dealing with it! OKC is rough on the insecurities. I have social anxiety but it's not super terrible. I fall apart in crowds but as long as I've got room to breathe and don't have the kids with me I can keep my shit together fairly well. It's hard for me to talk to new people but I push through. My tactic is simply ignore that feeling where my heart moves up into my throat and go in loud and proud. Fake it till you make it, right? I just hide behind humor, blunt comments, loud talking and trivia until I feel a little more comfortable or until I can't take it anymore and have to fuck off. I've been told I come off as a complete asshat at first. Just remember that you are good enough and you have something to offer to the conversation. I feel like most of the people you see on the dating apps are the front that people put up. Honestly, most of them still intimidate me. Probably why my wife had such better luck on the dating sites. Well, that and the whole having a vagina thing.
I see these men and women and I think "they're way out of my league" or "they'd never be interested in a guy like me". Then I remember that meme that said "if internet explorer is brave enough to ask to be your default browser, then you're brave enough to ask that girl out" and then I don't ask them out because I'm terrified to reach out. Yeah. I may not be the one to offer you a lot of hope.
 

grapevine50

New member
That sucks, dude. At least you're working towards dealing with it! OKC is rough on the insecurities. I have social anxiety but it's not super terrible. I fall apart in crowds but as long as I've got room to breathe and don't have the kids with me I can keep my shit together fairly well. It's hard for me to talk to new people but I push through. My tactic is simply ignore that feeling where my heart moves up into my throat and go in loud and proud. Fake it till you make it, right? I just hide behind humor, blunt comments, loud talking and trivia until I feel a little more comfortable or until I can't take it anymore and have to fuck off. I've been told I come off as a complete asshat at first. Just remember that you are good enough and you have something to offer to the conversation. I feel like most of the people you see on the dating apps are the front that people put up. Honestly, most of them still intimidate me. Probably why my wife had such better luck on the dating sites. Well, that and the whole having a vagina thing.
I see these men and women and I think "they're way out of my league" or "they'd never be interested in a guy like me". Then I remember that meme that said "if internet explorer is brave enough to ask to be your default browser, then you're brave enough to ask that girl out" and then I don't ask them out because I'm terrified to reach out. Yeah. I may not be the one to offer you a lot of hope.
Thanks for your reply and sharing your experiences. Since I posted that last message I'm in a much better place and more able to deal with OKC. I deleted my account after deciding I wasn't ready, but I'm now in a better place and decided to try again. I've also spoken to a few friends about being poly and one of them is poly with very good social skills, and they've helped me with my profile and send messages. I've done better this time, managed to have a few brief conversations but nothing past that. I don't know why these conversations peter out, I find it difficult to know what to say or whether I'm being interesting or not.

Anxieties aside, I realise that OKC is way harder for men and it's a system and a numbers game, and if you're good at the system the numbers game is way easier. Anxieties still aside, I don't like that. Another friend of mine has a good camera and will take some good photos of me (again, kind of hate my photo being taken but understand the necessity) and I'll see whether that makes a difference.

I know what you mean about hiding behind humour and blunt comments. I would do that but my humour gets pretty dark and understandably isn't for everyone, so I just tend to keep quiet. I used to think "these people are way better than me" looking at their photos of them having a good time, but I can better see now it's just an avatar showing the best times they've had, and they're just as unimportant and worthless as I am :ROFLMAO:. I find it way easier to ignore and tend to go for the bio first before flicking through photos. I'm sure with a lot of these people we'd get on if we met in person, but it's really hard to have that same connection typing in an app.
 

Inaniel

Active member
I have wavering social anxiety which has improved from what I would describe as severe social anxiety when I was a young adult. I think what helps me manage is simply stepping out of my comfort zone and paying close attention to communication queues. I am not naturally extroverted, so this is something that requires upkeep for me.

I think you are spot-on about what online dating tends to be, until it is not… Like window shopping for the perfect puppy, all sorts of shallow biases go into the choice someone makes; however, once a decision is made, they will love the puppy all the same… That is why despite online dating being a shallow window-shopping sort of experience, it still leads to love and connection… I think being able to see the silliness in it, as you have, is a good thing to keep in mind and will help with your insecurities. With that said, I would advise against using language like “unimportant and worthless” in your own profile and in conversations online dating in general... Which brings me to communication queues.

I think finding a balance that meets one’s own internal desire for authenticity can be a challenge. Social dynamics are complicated by inflection, tone, and body language. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. This is complicated further in online dating because “how you say it” becomes even more convoluted as it is quite difficult to communicate inflection and tone through text… Emojis help…

I used to live in a college neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic; I would go on walks in the evening and challenge myself to say hello to every person I saw (even though it was an extremely uncomfortable exercise for me). I did other social dynamic exercises as well but that was one I will never forget because of how educational it was. I encourage you to try it, and when approaching people, vary your inflection from highly energetic to low energy and watch in awe at the different ways people respond to you. Like reading or writing, socializing is a learned skill and takes practice. When you challenge yourself with social exercises you will learn things that cannot be unlearned, just like language and writing, the skills become ingrained and part of your self-image. Therefor what might feel inauthentic in practice leads to a skillset which allows you to present yourself in the most authentic way while avoiding common pitfalls, miss-communications, bad energy, bad timing, ect…
Good luck.
 

grapevine50

New member
I have wavering social anxiety which has improved from what I would describe as severe social anxiety when I was a young adult. I think what helps me manage is simply stepping out of my comfort zone and paying close attention to communication queues. I am not naturally extroverted, so this is something that requires upkeep for me.

I think you are spot-on about what online dating tends to be, until it is not… Like window shopping for the perfect puppy, all sorts of shallow biases go into the choice someone makes; however, once a decision is made, they will love the puppy all the same… That is why despite online dating being a shallow window-shopping sort of experience, it still leads to love and connection… I think being able to see the silliness in it, as you have, is a good thing to keep in mind and will help with your insecurities. With that said, I would advise against using language like “unimportant and worthless” in your own profile and in conversations online dating in general... Which brings me to communication queues.

I think finding a balance that meets one’s own internal desire for authenticity can be a challenge. Social dynamics are complicated by inflection, tone, and body language. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. This is complicated further in online dating because “how you say it” becomes even more convoluted as it is quite difficult to communicate inflection and tone through text… Emojis help…

I used to live in a college neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic; I would go on walks in the evening and challenge myself to say hello to every person I saw (even though it was an extremely uncomfortable exercise for me). I did other social dynamic exercises as well but that was one I will never forget because of how educational it was. I encourage you to try it, and when approaching people, vary your inflection from highly energetic to low energy and watch in awe at the different ways people respond to you. Like reading or writing, socializing is a learned skill and takes practice. When you challenge yourself with social exercises you will learn things that cannot be unlearned, just like language and writing, the skills become ingrained and part of your self-image. Therefor what might feel inauthentic in practice leads to a skillset which allows you to present yourself in the most authentic way while avoiding common pitfalls, miss-communications, bad energy, bad timing, ect…
Good luck.
Thanks for your response. It's great to hear your anxiety has improved.

I've been sitting with friends who've been helping me make my profile and take some decent pictures, and this has helped me a lot. Of course I would never write negative, borderline nihilistic comments in my profile, I usually save that for the 3rd date :LOL:. I try and remain positive throughout.

I have a dog and walk him every morning and I make an effort to talk to other people out walking. I think having a dog is a good bridge for conversation with others. Back when I could could take the tube, a notoriously unsociable place, having a dog with me would spark up conversations with a lot of strangers.

It's been under a week since I've been back on a dating app and it's actually going pretty well. I've been speaking to a fair amount of people, most lead nowhere which is to be expected, but I've hit it off with a couple of people and have a date booked in with one. It has been pretty exhausting writing to so many people though.

There's been some really great advice shared here and I'd like to add from my own brief experience. With anything like severe anxiety getting help is the best thing you can do, speak to a therapist or counsellor. And it may take a while but everything else will fall into place.

Understand how the app/site works before making a profile. Read about how to online date and get help from friends who are already doing it. It will really help with dealing with the unknown element. I've found creating boundaries for my interaction with the app has helped me not exhaust myself too much. When I start to feel drained I stop. The people I'm writing to can wait, they'll be there in the morning, and if they're not then it was never gonna work out anyway. I'm sure it goes without saying, be honest with yourself, listen to your needs, go at your own pace, an behonest with everyone else.
 
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