I Have A Panic Disorder And It Makes Dating Really Difficult

I’ve had anxiety for most of my life but in recent years I’ve developed a more full-blown panic disorder. This means that certain triggers that I come across can cause me to hyperventilate, get dizzy and confused, and feel disconnected from my body. Obviously, this makes dating pretty difficult and maintaining an actual relationship near impossible.

I flake on dates… a lot. I’m already a flaky person to start off with and having a panic disorder makes it even worse. There have been countless opportunities for relationships that barely even left the ground because I kept bailing on plans. If I was feeling scared about them, basically nothing could convince me to go. I instantly start going through every worst case scenario in my head and by that time, it’s too late. My brain has already won.

People can mistake it for me hating them. When I’m panicking, especially in public, it can look like I’m avoiding people or am being aloof. Things can be totally fine leading up to the attack and then once it hits, I turn completely paranoid. No matter who I’m with or where I am, it’ll just happen—even if it’s just me and my date in a quiet, intimate setting. I’ve learned to cover up my panic and sometimes it makes me look like I’m mean, but it’s not who I really am, I swear!

The most random things set me off. With panic attacks, I never know when it’s going to happen. I could be in the middle of a busy street or all by myself in a public bathroom. The panic is unpredictable which makes dating that much more unrealistic for me. When I have a date set up, I’m afraid that wherever we’re going will cause a panic attack in some way. I know it’s ridiculous to be afraid of something that hasn’t even happened yet, but I don’t make the rules for this disorder.

I can’t date just anyone. I don’t have the luxury of dating someone because I think they’re cute or funny. They have to be super patient and understanding—oh, and non-judgmental. If they just wanna have a good time, I’m not the one for them. I guess in some ways it’s good that I require such a strong-hearted man, but the downside is those kinda guys are pretty hard to find.

It takes me a while to let go and trust. When dating, the relationship supposedly gets stronger and stronger the more time spent together. While that’s a nice thought, it doesn’t exactly work that way for me. I need a TON of time to trust the person I’m with and even when I have put most of my trust in them, something could happen (like a panic attack) to completely cancel it all out.

Sometimes I literally have to leave the room. If he’s not okay with dramatic exits then I’m not going to be able to date him. I really don’t do well with conflict, so if there’s an argument, I’ll leave the room right away to keep my anxiety down. I wouldn’t want it to lead to a full-blown panic attack. I know that some guys would take offense to me just up and leaving but it’s something I just have to do.

It can be a bit too much drama for some people to handle. The guys I date need to not only be okay with drama but thrive on it. I know there are guys out there who like to help; guys who understand anxiety and who don’t mind hearing about the myriad of problems I’m having. I’m not interested in someone who just wants to chill and be happy—my relationships are never about just being happy. They’re full of ups and downs, twists and turns and the guy I’m with should be able to handle it all.

I’ll opt out of certain activities due to fear. Dating consists of doing activities, some of which I’ve never experienced before, which is scary AF to me. I know that doing new things is good, but if it seems too scary, I’ll turn the date down, slowing any progress I’ve been making in the relationship.

When it gets bad enough, I give up dating altogether. Sometimes I go through phases when the anxiety gets worse and I start hiding out in my room away from all people and potential dates. I spend a lot more time alone than I would like to but it’s easier to be alone than to potentially freak out in public.

I feel bad for putting someone through it. I’m generally apprehensive about dating because I don’t want to be the reason for someone else’s unhappiness. Why should they choose me when they could choose someone who doesn’t have these annoying issues? No one wants to be around someone who’s anxious all the time. My panic disorder has caused me to have low confidence and see myself as lesser than in most situations making dating near impossible.

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