Dating can be fun, exciting, stressful, annoying, exhilarating. All of the things. Dating with anxiety is all of the above with a roundabout self narration of the “am I good enough”, “will he call back”, “I don’t know if I feel safe”, “should I text him first”, “I’m not sure I’m ready”, “what if I say something stupid” thoughts. Depending on your level of anxiety, these thoughts can be accompanied by some not-so-fun physical side affects including: the shakes, sick stomach, feeling faint, stuttering and being seconds away from an anxiety attack. Dating with anxiety isn’t easy. As someone who has been on quite a few dates within my dating career (if that’s not already a term, it needs to be!) I can assure you it will get easier with practice. This week, Nicholle and I are sharing a Dating With Anxiety Guide, which includes tips to dating as someone with anxiety (you’re the anxious cat) and dating someone who has anxiety (they’re is the anxious cat). I’ve been on both ends – and these steps have helped me (and my potential suitors!) along the process. I’ll be covering navigating anxiety within the dating world as a single girl and Nicholle will be touching on anxiety within a committed relationship. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I am not a trained medical professional. I am sharing my personal experiences only. If you are experiencing extreme symptoms of anxiety or depression please seek medical attention.
When You’re The Anxious Cat
Hi my name is Michelle and I’m an anxious cat. What does that mean? I struggle with chronic anxiety and it tends to creep into my dating life. If you have anxiety, are single, and in the dating world – I can promise you one thing – you can do this! Here are things that have made my dating process easier.
Above all else – if you have anxiety – communication is vital between you and your potential suitor. When you feel comfortable, make it known you have anxiety. Explain what anxiety is and how it affects you specifically. Give him eye contact when you tell him. This isn’t something to be ashamed of, this is just a part of who you are. Tell him it’s important to have an open line of communication when you’re feeling anxious. That way, he won’t be caught off guard if you’re experiencing an extreme dose of anxiety.
It’s important you own your anxiety. Listen girl, between you and I – it’s no biggie. Do you know how many people (you probably already know!) have anxiety? It’s way more common than you think. If you have anxiety – and you feel you’re struggling on a date – just own it. Let him know you’re feeling anxious. This is a great way to see someones character. If he’s a good guy, he will ask if there is anything he can do to help. Be honest – if you’d rather go for a walk instead of staring at each other across a dining table – voice it! If he minimizes it or pokes fun – he’s probably not your guy. Thank you, next
Share Your Triggers
If you have anxiety – chance are you’re well aware of your triggers. What is a trigger? Something that sets off your anxiety. It could be touch, it could be a lack of response via text, it could be their phone lighting up with a text from an unknown recipient. Share these triggers with your date as soon as you feel comfortable. Chances are he’s not even aware of your trigger(s) and how it’s affecting you. Open up a dialogue about it. If he’s your guy – he’ll go out of his way to make you feel safe.
Write Down Your Feelings
If you have anxiety – it is important to write down your feelings. If you’re dating – keep a log of your dates: how each suitor made you feel, triggers that arose during dates, when you felt most comfortable, etc. This is vital information that will help you navigate the dating world. At the same time, releasing your feelings on paper will help ease your mind and aid in halting these thoughts from circling your head endlessly. You don’t have to write down a full journal entry, either. Every date you go on you’ll learn more about yourself. And how to handle anxiety within the dating world.
Talk With A Therapist
All the cool kids do it. Seriously, therapy is awesome! For whatever reason there seems to be a stigma associated with therapy. In reality, it’s an incredibly power resource I treat myself with. Meeting with someone who can help you figure out where your anxiety stems from and how to prevent future flareups? Yes, please. Therapists are trained professionals who can help you through the dating process. You have the liberty to break down each date, examine why you did or didn’t feel anxious – and create a plan of action. I can’t recommend therapy enough. And if you can’t afford it – there should be local community centers in your city who can provide a therapist or counselor at a discounted rate.
Keep Yourself Busy
The dating game is also a waiting game. *Eye roll*. If you find someone you’re interested in and your mind is spinning a mile a minute “is he thinking of me”, “what is he doing right now”, “has he lost interest” – you’re not alone. It’s important you keep busy during this torturous wait. Don’t let your anxiety take over and jeopardize the potential relationship. Make plans. Schedule girls nights. Visit your family. Take yourself to a movie. Go grocery shopping. Throw yourself into work. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself in your thoughts. You’ll only drive yourself crazy. Trust me, I’ve been there. Fill your mind with other priorities and don’t let this potential suitor consume all your thoughts.
Check In With A Fellow Anxious Cat
Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone. If you have a friend and/or family member who also suffers with anxiety – check in with them. Ask them what helps ease their anxiety. If you don’t have someone in your life who you can relate to – I’m always an email away (email@example.com). You’re not alone in this, sis!
Know When To Dump Him
If he can’t handle your anxiety he doesn’t deserve you. It takes a real man to acknowledge and empathize with your journey. If you’ve opened up to him about your anxiety and he diminishes it or doesn’t acknowledge it – time to cut him off! You deserve someone willing to walk with you through your anxiety. The right guy for you won’t see it as an obstacle!
When He’s The Anxious Cat
So you’ve found yourself on a date with an anxious cat. Maybe you don’t have anxiety (or you do!) but dang, he sure does. What now? Here are some pointers to help you navigate the road ahead.
Once again, open communication is crucial to ensuring both parties are on the same page. If he has anxiety, make it a priority to have an open line of communication where he feels safe to share his feelings. If he’s closed off about his anxiety, give him space and time to come out of his shell. Make it known you’re not going to push for information and will be there for him when he decides to open up.
Give Him Reassurance
If your potential suitor has anxiety, chances are he’s in his head about the entire relationship. His anxiety may be staining his true feelings towards you, for fear of being hurt. Make it a priority to give him reassurance you’re into him. Allow him the time he needs to open up to you. In the meantime, keep busy with your family, friends and passions. Don’t dwell in his feelings. You are your own person and things will work out if they’re meant to be.
Go At A Slow Pace
If you meet someone who has anxiety, there’s a big change you’ll have to move at a slower pace than normal. Ask yourself if you’re willing to be patient and move at a slow pace. If you feel a special connection, I’d suggest to go for it. But again, don’t let it consume you. Give your other priorities time and attention. You are a full person without him. He is there to compliment you when and if he’s ready.
Ask Him About His Triggers
Ah, triggers. If you feel close with him – ask him if he’d be open to discussing his triggers. Explain knowing his triggers will help you to be mindful to avoid them. Or, if they appear you’ll know what to expect. Be respectful in his timing of offering up this information. It takes immense vulnerability to share someones triggers. When/if he does, thank him for trusting you with this information. Don’t drag on the conversation and end it on a positive note.
Give Him Space
Listen to me closely. If he asks for it – give the man space. Anxiety can creep up unexpectedly and sometimes we anxious cats just need some space. And please don’t take it personally. Anxiety is overwhelming and exhausting. If he is feeling anxious/overwhelmed and still wants to see you – suggest something super chill and non-threatening. Maybe a short walk, a movie night in or a massage. The more you push him to hangout, the more he will pull away.
Do Some Research
If you’re unaware of anxiety, do some research! Anxiety is so much more than “feeling nervous”. It’s a very real medical condition and ranges in severity. Some cases require medication. Some require therapy. If you’re dating someone with anxiety (or have a friend/family member) it’s best to learn what anxiety looks like from a medical standpoint. As someone with anxiety, I can say it’s extremely refreshing to speak to others who are educated on what anxiety is.
Check-In With Him
Even if things are tickity boo with your partner, check in with him every once in a while. Don’t annoy him weekly with an interrogation. However, checking in monthly or every other month will make him feel valued. Ask him what is helping his anxiety. Ask him what is hindering his anxiety.
Know When To Walk Away
There’s a very real possibility dating someone with high levels of anxiety isn’t for you. It’s important you’re honest with yourself. Is this a healthy relationship? Are we both lifting each other up? If someone has anxiety and they are in an unhealthy period of their life they may be doing more harm than good in your life. Remember, you come first. If it’s too much for you – be honest about it. You’re not a jerk. You’re looking out for yourself first.
Dating with anxiety can be a different experience for introverts and extroverts (extreme introvert over here!) but both can face struggles all the same. Remember, if you’re dating someone with anxiety – show them grace! Be kind and ask questions. If you have anxiety and you’re in the dating world – I’m proud of you for putting yourself out there and taking your power back.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many sources available to you online, such as BetterHelp, which dive into the science behind anxiety and connect you with medical professionals. As always, I’m an email away if you have any more questions! firstname.lastname@example.org