Sometimes, when I'm drinking by myself at the bar, I'll gaze at those laid back girls with their bohemian beach waves casually cascading down their sun-kissed backs, meeting their boyfriend's family for the first time and I'm sick with jealousy.
I just want to be a non-anxious girl who doesn't wear makeup, authentically enjoys yoga, rolls out of bed and throws on a braless, side-boob dress and puts the frenetic energy of a New York City subway gorgeously at ease with my magnetic, carefree swagger.
But, no. I'm actually an acutely raven-haired, snow-white, pale-skinned, hyperactive mascara lesbian, all big anxious eyes, caffeine-shaky lips and nerves.
My leg is inexplicably shaking as a write this. Is something ANXIOUS about to happen?
Nah, girl. It's a boring Tuesday in lower Manhattan. I'm just feeling things because I don't know how to not feel things.
I'm just feeling things because I don't know how to not feel things.
But I adore love. People who suffer from anxiety and depression tend to fiercely love because we're glutenous in the feels department, like out of control chocolate addicts who just can't help but devour a box of Godiva in one sitting.
People with anxiety tend to fiercely love because we're glutenous in the feels department.
We recklessly dive into the emotional pools, whether it's the anxiety pool, the depressed pool or the love pool.
Two anxious/depressed entities swimming in the love pool is a powerful force of nature (not necessarily a healthy force of nature, but they're still a force to be reckoned with).
Social anxiety is the worst when you're dating someone new. Because, all of a sudden, you're forced to ~socialize~ with their people.
It's probably really good for us to crawl out from under the covers and mingle with fresh personalities, but damn, is it harrowing.
But ya know, kittens, if we want love so bad, we're going to have figure out a way to deal with our social anxiety.
So today, together, like two long lost, anxious sisters, we're going to navigate the dark and stormy waters of dating with social anxiety.
Last week, we talked about dealing with meeting your significant other's friends with social anxiety. And this week, we're going to talk about the collectively feared meeting of the family.
I know this one is tough. Because the thing is, when you love someone something fierce, you want to be close their family. You want to be loved, accepted and celebrated by them.
But how the hell do you get there when you're feeling irrepressibly shy?
Now that I'm a smug 30-year-old, I can tell you I've learned a thing or two in my time here on this cruel, cold planet earth. At this point, I've become such a ferocious expert in charming a significant other's family, I can do it with the grace and ease of a ballerina.
So, if the leg-shaking, former over-drinker due to her extreme shyness, bug-eyed, noticeably quiet girl has learned to deal with meeting the SO's fam, so can you.
1. Be more polite than the Queen of England.
It's OK to be a little shy. But the trouble with being shy is this: Shy can sometimes be misinterpreted as bitchy.
I know that's not the case, and you know that's not the case. But does bae's family know that's not the case?
Unless they have a masters in psychology, no. They don't. So you need to be over-the-top polite.
Make sure you look everyone you meet in the eye, smile and firmly shake their hands. Say sweet, polite, sugary things like, "So LOVELY to meet you!"
People can handle quiet, as long as you're a polite quiet. Channel your inner Kate Middleton, and act like a god damn royal.
Channel your inner Kate Middleton, and act like a god damn royal.
It will distract everyone from your palpable anxiety. And if they do notice your trembling hands, they'll know it's because you're nervous from trying to impress them.
And they'll be inclined to love back anyone who loves their gorgeous, perfect child.
2. Take the piece of cake, no matter what allergies you have.
I don't care if you're on the Atkins Diet. I don't give a shit about your gluten allergy. I don't care if you're going to go into paralytic shock from all of the sugar you're eating.
If you're offered a piece of cake, take it. If you're worried you're going to shut down or come across as rude, the best way to put a buffer between your lack of conversation participation is to take the fucking cake when it's offered, eat it and gush about how ~amazing~ it is.
You have ONE chance to make a good impression, you hear me? Don't blow it by being a bitch about the food.
Eat the cake today, and save the diet for every other boring day of your life.
What's a night of irritable bowels over family acceptance for life?
3. Ask them questions about their lives.
OK, so you don't know what the hell to say. You're tongue-tied, your mouth is dry, your fingers are shaking, you really want a cigarette (even if you don't smoke) and you just want to crawl into a hole and hide.
Take a deep breath right now. Channel your inner California babe.
I'll visualize myself as some sort of calm, hippie, wild-haired Cali girl with golden sand sprinkled across my bare feet and I'll breathe like a real yogi. It helps.
After you've done your visualization and have calmed down a bit, ask their family questions about themselves. Ask them where they're from, what they do for work, what they're passionate about and how they made that cake so mouthwatering.
Trust me, everyone loves to talk about themselves. We're all vain, and we're all a bit self-obsessed. Let the human condition work to your advantage.
4. Offer to help clean up.
If you're shy, your in with the fam is being of service. Don't bitch about this one, girls. No one is more useless than yours truly.
I don't even know how to load a dishwasher correctly. I don't know how to roast a chicken. I don't know how to iron my linen dresses.
But you know what? When I meet bae's family, I channel my inner domestic goddess and I help clean up like I'm a god damn professional.
It gets you out of conversation, but still makes you seem amazing, engaged and helpful.
So, stop worrying about your broken nail, and get down and dirty with those dishes, babe! Chipped nail polish today, manis and xanis tomorrow.
Chipped nail polish today, manis and xanis tomorrow.
5. Have a glass of wine, for Christ's sake.
Now is not the time to be a prim bitch. Have a glass of wine (just one, two max) and let your hair down a bit.
It will socially lubricate you so you're not a stiff Stepford wife from Greenwich, Connecticut when you arrive on the family frontier for the first time.
Don't have more than two, or else that booze will quickly turn on you. An anxiety-ridden drunk is weird. It's uncomfortable.
But an anxiety-ridden buzz is totally fine!
Have a personality drink, follow steps one through four and you'll be good to go, I swear to goddess.
We'll deal with using drinking as a crutch later this week. But today, you've just got to get through meeting THE FAM.