My Social Boyfriend

My Social Boyfriend

Q: My boyfriend is really social and loves to spend time with his friends every chance he can get. He wants me to come with him, but I get very anxious is social situations. He knows this, but doesn’t seem to care about it. At the bar, he will leave me with people I don’t really know and go off for a long time. When we get home, I seem to end up picking a fight with him. This is really affecting our relationship and I’m afraid we’re going to break up because of it sometimes. I need help!

She: There are a couple issues here; one is the question of compatibility and commitment in your relationship, and your individual issues with social anxiety. Firstly, it is very important to remember that for most of us, dating is a process of interviewing potential life partners. The problem is that, as human beings, we are programed to form attachments (sexual intimacy adds an added layer of complexity). Too often, people form attachments to people who are ultimately not a good fit for a life partner. Unfortunately, my fear for you is that you and your boyfriend may not be a great match. It seems like you have very different expectations for being social, which in the future, if not addressed, is going to be a major issue. The second concern is that it seems like your boyfriend may not be as committed to the relationship as you would want. That he leaves you at the bar without considering your discomfort either speaks to a lack of commitment for the relationship or a general disregard for you, either way there is reason for you to be concerned about the longevity of this relationship.

The other part of this issue is that you state clearly that you suffer from some level of social anxiety. This speaks to some fundamental self-esteem issues, and possible unprocessed trauma. Either way, this is an issue that you should be addressing in therapy. Not only will addressing this issue of social anxiety and increasing your self-esteem help you to be a happier, healthier person but will also allow you to be a better judge of a life partner.

He: Jen brings up two issues: Lack of Compatibility and Lack of Commitment. I disagree with her on both points.

First, let’s look at Compatibility: Jen assumes that you have different desires for sociability. I don’t make that assumption. In fact, I would guess that many people with social anxiety have a desire for increased social interaction, but lack a certain skill set to make it a comfortable experience to do so. I like the idea of him challenging you on a social level.

Second, let’s look at Commitment: Does this really occur all the time? I would assume that if you had social anxiety, that one or two times of being “abandoned” by your boyfriend might feel like it happens all the time. You need to really do the math and tally up the number of social situations where he wanders off, versus those where he sits dutifully by your side, watching you be socially awkward . If it is, in fact, a real issue, I would suggest trying a different approach to communicating this issue to him. It sound like your current approach is to wait until you get home from the bar (when you are emotionally charged, and you both have been drinking) to discuss the issue. Has this ever worked? Try approaching him with your feelings when you both are in a state of mind that is conducive to cooperation and communication. If he is not responsive to this approach, then you may have problems and may need to pull out the big guns. The next time he wanders off at a bar. Sidle up next to a good-looking guy at the bar, and let him buy you a drink. Practice a little small-talk with him, and watch as your boyfriend miraculously appears, ready to mark his territory.

Dr. Jen Semmes and Andy Wilson have been (mostly) happily married for nine years (currently happily). They are the owners of Coastal Counseling therapy center in Carlsbad, California. Jen holds a license in clinical social work and a doctorate in psychology, and is a therapist at Coastal Counseling. Andy just tries to hold it together.

If you, or anyone you know, has a question for ‘He said, She said’ please send a private message to Coastal Counseling on Facebook or email the question to


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