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TEAM ZOELLA JUNE 24, 2022

“How Do I Tell My Friends I Have Social Anxiety Around Them?” This Month’s Between You & Me

In this month’s Between You And Me, Team Zoella are giving their sage advice on how to let your friends know you’re struggling in group settings, chatting about self-pleasure, dealing with changes after having a baby and what it means if you’re thinking about your ex in the run-up to your wedding.

After the unprecedented chaos of the last two years – most of which was spent in and out of lockdown, social distancing and working remotely – many of us couldn’t wait to re-enter society and dance in a drunken circle, draped over our bezzie pals again but whilst some of us found returning to normal exhilarating after being cooped up for so long, others felt anxious about jumping straight back into social gatherings and face-to-face interaction again. 

Whether you were familiar with social anxiety pre-pandemic, or these feelings are totally new and unexpected, opening up to your friends can be a scary step. In this month’s Between You And Me, Team Zoella are giving their sage advice on how to let your friends know you’re struggling in group settings so that you can get the reassurance, love and support you need. 

In other news, we’ll be chatting about self-pleasure when you’re in a long-term relationship (let us introduce you to our S.O Evii), dealing with changes in your relationship after having a baby and what it means if you’re thinking about your ex in the run-up to your wedding. 

Here’s what’s going down in this month’s BYAM!

Lareese says…

I feel very passionate about the sheer lack of education around the contraceptive pill. Having been on it since I was 14 to ‘help’ with my periods, with very little (translation: no) conversation around the possible long-term side effects and the fact that I wouldn’t ovulate for over a decade, I just think the burden has fallen on us for far too long. Why should the responsibility fall on us women to take birth control simply because it’s convenient for them, or assumed that we’ll have it covered if we’re sexually active? If you were considering going on the pill before you started seeing this guy, then fine, look at your options and make the fully-informed decision that’s best for you and your body, but it sounds a lot like this is something he’s pushing on you so that he can have more casual sex with less pregnancy-related risks. If he’s into you and wants to see more of you, then he’ll wrap up! Simple as. Don’t waste your time on someone who is THIS comfortable giving you an ultimatum and dictates what you should do with your body, particularly when you’re not keen on the idea of going on the pill anyway! x

Darcey says…

If going on the pill is something you have never considered before seeing this guy, I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think it’s right that he has even suggested this to you, I think it shows quite a lack of respect. It sounds (and apologies if I’m wrong) that this is quite a casual relationship so far, seeing each other after nights out and hooking up? But maybe ask yourself if you are hoping for something a bit more serious and considering doing this so you can see him more? To me, it sounds like he wants you to go on the pill so he can continue to have sex with you, with less risk, or even because he just doesn’t like the feel of condoms (we’ve all heard that before, never seems to stop them finishing though does it ha!), but I think to ask something like this from someone you aren’t willing to give any major commitment too is quite outrageous tbh. I appreciate in a more serious relationship you may both want to have an open discussion about the different types of contraception that could suit you both, but for something more casual he doesn’t have the right to even broach the subject in my opinion.

Charlotte says…

On the surface this is a worry- no one wants to still be thinking about their ex when in a new relationship, but I do think there’s something about the commitment of marriage that can cause people to panic and start re-evaluating their life choices up till now. You’re essentially signing up to forever with someone, and yes there is the option of divorce and it’s more socially acceptable than ever to do so, but ultimately no one really wants that to be the case and so naturally I’m assuming the past few years of your ‘single’ life start flashing before your eyes.

Maddie says…

There is so much more information I need to know but I’m going to try and speak to you as i would a close friend confiding in me. Having cold feet is extremely common ahead of such a big event and this could be your brain coming up with excuses not to go through with the wedding just because it’s such a big commitment. It is also possible to love two people at the same time in different ways and maybe that’s ok if you can fully separate them in your mind. However, if you truly do feel like you’re still in love with your ex, more so than the man you’re about to marry, then please don’t go through with the wedding just because you’re afraid of the repercussions and fall out. You only get one shot at life and time really is so precious, if you feel like you’re with the wrong person then you have to be honest with your fiance and yourself. Look at it this way, if your future husband was having these thoughts and feelings about an ex so close to the wedding, how would you feel? Do you think you would still want to get married? Hopefully, the answer to that question is the answer you’re looking for.

Liv says…

This can be a tricky one, especially as it’s having to be vulnerable and maybe even put yourself in a situation that might trigger your anxiety. If it was me in this situation I wouldn’t try and tell everyone at once, take it slow and maybe speak to your closest friend first. Once you see their reaction you may feel more confident to speak to more and if not that friend might be able to tell others for you.

When you go to have the conversation, make sure you’re in a nice environment and you feel safe. Be as honest as you can with your friends and be ready to explain what social anxiety is and what effect it has on you. Mental health isn’t a one-size-fits-all so sometimes it needs a little explaining so people know how to help you. I hope it goes well!

Charlotte says…

Hi anon! Anxiety, whether simply as an emotion or mental illness diagnosis, can be really difficult to deal with, so I’m really sorry you’ve been having a hard time experiencing this. Social anxiety in particular is something that’s quite difficult to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, and struggling with it around those close to you can be even more confusing. It’s easy to start questioning why you’re feeling anxious around friends and family you love, and why you don’t want to hang out with them even though you know they love and support you.

That’s the difficult part of mental illness- it can manifest in ‘non socially acceptable’ ways, making you question certain truths, behave differently to your normal self and stop doing the things you love. Have you ever been in therapy? I know CBT in particular is a really useful approach for anxiety and it may be able to provide you with some tangible ways of dealing with anxious thoughts in social situations.

I would also suggest trying to open up to your friends about how you’re feeling and making them aware of what’s going on for you. That way you can be vulnerable and reach out when needed in the moments you’re struggling knowing that they understand what’s going on. For example if you cancel plans last minute or suddenly seem withdrawn in a social setting, they’re far more able to help you than if you keep yourself closed off from their care. Best of luck and know that you are and will be okay!

Danielle says…

For me, self-love doesn’t mean lighting candles on a night-in alone and going at it for a while feeling sexy. Well sometimes it does, but most of the time it’s me getting an orgasm in when I can a few times a week to reset and let those endorphins flow, letting the power of the O work its magic! My partner and I have been together for 6 years and we’re both fine with the other having their solo time but it’s still not something we’re massively open about, for instance, I don’t really want to know when he’s doing it and I’d be pretty embarazzd if he knew when I was!

We live together and he works from home so it’s pretty tricky to find that alone time to bash one out (save the long sessions for when he’s fully out of the house!) but you’ve just got to get into the routine of taking your opportunities when you can. For me it’s habitual like going to the gym or meditating, I don’t even have to be super in the mood to think ‘hmm might have a wank’ I just go for it. Find what works for you and the confidence to go at it alone will certainly grow. Here’s an article we wrote about finding the right sex toy for you which I would definitely suggest getting for some solo play!

Lareese says…

Let the vulva see the vibes. My only advice is bloody well do it. Find the time. It’s not a case of them vs our sex toys/hand – to hell with the narrative that suggests your other half is less than if we want to introduce toys or still masturbate. PERLEASEEE. There are SO many options out there for coupled fun and solo play alike, so whether you try mutual masturbation (getting off in front of each other) or have them do it on your behalf, there are plenty of options to see what works for you. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or not, touching your body is nothing to be ashamed of, and I really don’t see why it’s any different from any other form of self-care. Penetrative sex isn’t for everyone (something like 70% of women can only reach orgasm from clitoral stimulation), so if you’re in a heterosexual relationship, this can be a great way to ensure you’re just as satisfied as him. It’s up to you what self-love looks like, whether you want it to be something you do purely with and for yourself, or together, but either way, it’s nothing you should feel guilty or ashamed about, however long you’ve been with a partner. It’s just a wank, it’s not that deep. Wishing you love and all the orgasms this world has to give x

Maddie says…

Firstly congratulations on your new arrival and secondly well done for getting through the 4th trimester! I know from experience it can be completely relentless at times and you’re a ball of hormonal emotions from having just given birth which makes everything just a little bit (a lot) more tense. When you’re a first-time parent everything is so new, you can feel insecure about the smallest things and more often than not you’re getting next to no sleep which can turn the smallest passing comment into world war 3. Your priorities have also shifted which takes some adjustment as well as working out your new roles and how to divide your home life, it’s a constant juggling act. I hope it reassures you to know that pretty much everyone I know who has had children has been through this and with time and a good dose of communication and showing appreciation for your partner, things will return to normal. It’s still such early days and for things to be different is to be expected. When you feel ready, make time for each other again and don’t forget to prioritise the things that made you enjoy being together before any babies arrived.

Danielle says…

So I’ve not had a baby which means I don’t have much incredible advice to give for this part of your life but just know that I really do feel for you and even though you’re probably so happy and in love with your new little one, it’s also really f*cking hard. Everything is new, there’s this thing you have to look after and worry about constantly, trying to keep them fed and clean and suddenly having no time for yourselves. On top of that, I genuinely believe the sleep deprivation from midnight wake-ups changes the fabric of we are as people! Small insignificant issues that usually wouldn’t become a big deal turn into massive fights with each of you blaming the other.

Rely on your support system as much as you can, try and get a night with just you and your partner alone so you can reconnect and remember why you’re together in the first place. Make sure you stay super honest and open with your partner, apologise when you need to and ask for the same compassion back when you deserve it. Remember you’re a team, you’re in it together not against each other, and I’m sure it will get easier at some point especially when you can sleep through the night and feel refreshed the next day!

Darcey says…

I know this feeling all too well! I felt for years like something was lacking (even sometimes still now) cause guys very rarely approached me and it used to really get me down so I totally can empathise with how you are feeling!

I think it’s really important to remember that absolutely nothing is wrong with you, I think society and the movies we watched as children, the music we listened to, basically everything we consume as humans (and mainly as women) is that men chase women, so if we aren’t being hounded at the club by multiple guys like all the women in the music videos something must be wrong.

I think if you are wanting to start meeting guys and talking to new people, put yourself out there for sure! Approach that guy in the club that you fancy, message that guy on the dating app, honestly the worst thing that could happen is they say they aren’t interested and that’s okay too! The more you do it, the more your confidence will grow for sure.

Liv says…

I would like to start this by saying that you are not the problem. It can definitely make you feel like you are but there can be SO many reasons why they aren’t. And please don’t feel like you need to change anything about yourself to get anyone to make the first move.

Also, who says that the guy should be the one to make the first move? I get that it could be flattering but personally, I would feel way more empowered if I made the first move. Go get yourself out there and make things happen for you.

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