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A recent study found that 19 percent of romantic relationships that lead to marriage are initiated through online contacts.
This includes 17 percent of spouses who met through dating sites or apps, and two percent who first came into contact on social media sites.
Despite the comfort and ease of online interactions, there is no shortcut to happiness or to meaningful relationships for people with social anxiety disorder.
Research shows that higher levels of social anxiety are synonymous with less satisfaction in relationships, so even if a real relationship develops subsequent to an online encounter, the chances of it being successful will be reduced if the social phobia is not addressed.
These symptoms are pervasive and disabling, and their impact is often compounded by inadequate social skills that are the inevitable price of a lifetime of avoidant behavior.
For a person with social anxiety disorder, their insecurities and lack of self-confidence make it difficult to imagine building a successful and lasting romantic partnership.
Therapists will introduce patients to this powerful method for retraining the brain to react differently to situations that normally trigger anxiety, and CBT sessions will likely be included in both formal treatment and aftercare.
It should be noted that about four-fifths of men and women who suffer from social anxiety will experience other psychiatric issues as well, most often depression and/or other anxiety disorders.
This is yet another reason to seek inpatient or outpatient treatment for social anxiety, since the presence of other disorders can complicate recovery if treatment is not comprehensive and multifaceted.
But social media and social anxiety are not a perfect match.
Virtual connections are not the same as face-to-face interactions, and in most ways they are a pale replacement for the real thing.
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The initial awkward stages of socializing that can overwhelm or intimidate social anxiety sufferers can be avoided when contact is initiated online.