What Dating With Anxiety Looks Like


The older I get the more I’ve been able to understand the impacts of anxiety on my life. From as long as I can remember, unfelt emotions and stressors have triggered anxiety in my present life.

So when I step into the world of dating it makes things a lot more confusing.

For me, dating with anxiety means feeling a flood of emotions all at once. It’s feeling like I’m out at sea, being overcome by the waves. It’s a scary world to navigate.

Before I go out on dates, I panic. Is this going to be awkward? Will I have to eat in front of him? What if there are uncomfortable silences? Will I need to use the bathroom? All the uncertainties and what ifs cloud my head, making it hard to see a clear world in front of me.

This doesn’t mean I’m not excited to go on the date. I’ve had some of the most wonderful experiences going on dates with people I’ve been really interested in, but still succumb to my anxiety before even going on the date. I’ve gone on dates with people I’ve known as good friends for a while but still get flustered and question myself. My level of feelings or comfort around a person does not change the fact my anxiety might play a role. It still does.

My initial instinct in those moments is to cancel. Some days I just want to put my sweatpants on, crawl into bed and watch as many shows as possible to avoid awkward initial first dates or hangouts. I just want to fast forward through all the awkward firsts and skip to genuinely knowing a person deeply. But I have to remember that’s not how relationships work.

Relationships require time and practice. I remind myself to be brave and put one foot out there, even if it means going to dinner with a person I really want to get to know and worrying about having to eat in front of him the whole night.

Dating with anxiety takes time and practice.

But sometimes, I do bail. Sometimes, I’m not strong enough to push my way through the negative self-talk and panic attacks that flood my mind. And that’s OK.

When I do find the courage and strength to push through the anxiety I’m feeling, I still find it in the aftermath. Anxiety doesn’t go away after a date goes perfectly. It continues to follow, popping up at often random and convenient times. When I’ve been in a committed relationship for a year with somebody I love deeply, I still feel the inability to go out in public or be in a large gathering with his friends.

Anxiety is second guessing every choice I make on a date. Anxiety is replaying every possible scenario with somebody I care about deeply in my head at night. Anxiety is wanting to go out and be in public with somebody but feeling inevitably stuck, unable to move or do anything in that moment in time.

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Thinkstock photo via ArthurHidden.

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