With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s time to show that special someone you care. And when your special someone lives with an anxiety disorder, one of the most romantic things you can do is make him or her feel at ease. Whether you’re planning a first date or spending a night with your husband or wife, learning what triggers your partner, or knowing what triggers yourself, and planning accordingly is one of the best ways to ensure the night is a success.
We asked some of our readers who live with anxiety to tell us about their ideal date. But don’t take their word for it — ask your partner what makes them comfortable. Or if you’re the one who lives with anxiety, speak up and let your Valentine know what you need.
In the meantime, some of these answers might give you inspiration:
1. “Most of my days are spent at home due to my anxiety, but when I’m having a good night I like to try and see the outside world. I enjoy having dinner and a cocktail in a public place where we can chat and people watch: maybe a sidewalk cafe or art gallery bistro where we can talk and connect and feel a part of this big beautiful world I sometimes miss out on.” — Andrea Nicole Olivarez
2. “I like to just sit with them and talk about life, without worrying about other people around me.” — Theresa Pancella
3. “If we’re going out, I’d like to go to a restaurant I’m familiar with that’s quieter. No movies, that’s too much, but food is nice and comforting. If I had the option, I’d prefer to stay in at my place and watch movies and make food together, or just do something in the comfort of our sweats.” — Lauren Greschaw
4. “My ideal date would do something romantic, yet casual. Something close to home or at my home like coming over and cooking me dinner and bringing a favorite movie.” — Aurora Jade
5. “Pretty much any date with my significant other will do as long as the plans don’t change. That is one major trigger for me.” — Tia Marie
6. “Sitting at a casual, quiet place where we can talk and not worry about people’s judgments.” — Abigayle Petty
7. “Seeing a movie early in the afternoon because it’s less crowded.” — Lisa DuVal
8. “I usually go for the old standby of dinner and a movie. The theater is dark so I don’t have to see anybody else, and at the dinner I’m usually so focused on the person I’m with I don’t have time to worry about my triggers.” — Patrick Dovah Bowden
9. “I enjoy going to lowkey places with my husband; restaurants that have plenty of space between the tables, etc.” — Christianne McCall
10. “There was a great ‘Big Bang Theory’ episode where Rajesh takes his date to a library and they text each other back and forth from across a table. That would be kind of nice, I think, for a first date. It would take the pressure of ‘casual talk’ off the table – I’m much more composed when I type. And there would be other people around, but not in a distracting way.” — C.C.P.
11. “If my husband were to plan something — I would hope it’s a place I’ve been. Going to new places makes me even more anxious.” — Jandj Houston
12. “My ideal date would be something quiet, yet somewhere where I’m comfortable. I can’t handle many people because of my anxiety/” title=”View more social anxiety stories”>social anxiety. A date at a nice quiet café/bookstore, getting dressed up and going out to a not-so-busy restaurant (sitting away from everyone), or even a drive out of town. I have to have an idea what we’re going to do though. Or else I will have an anxiety attack just thinking about it.” — Kate Marie
13. “My ideal date could be anywhere — with the right person. Every ‘date’ has its own difficulties, but having the person you’re dating understand what little things help can make a stressful date calmer.” — Cassandra Coogan
14. “I like dates where I know the general itinerary, but there are still allowances for the sweet surprises. For example, I knew ahead of time we’re going to dinner and then for a drive. This date became going to a really nice steak house and then a drive to a park where we sat and stargazed.” — Whitney Williams
15. “Mine and my boyfriend’s first date was perfect: he took me out to dinner at a pizza place, then we walked around a local park and talked. He made me feel comfortable the entire date which made me see he cared.” — Julia Ann Lange
Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. These answers are based on individuals’ experiences.