If you’re generally a pretty laid-back person until it comes to relationships, we feel you. Dating can cause anxiety for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean it has to control your love life. Figuring out why it’s happening and learning coping methods will go a long way in making you feel much more relaxed and able to go with the flow. We’re here to help with that.
Dating can cause anxiety if…
- You’re not supported. There are lots of ways that a partner should support you, and these factors range from personal and emotional to career and intellectual growth. Anyone who isn’t willing to challenge you or encourage you to be the best version of yourself isn’t worth it. They are just insecure themself, and they know what they’re doing when they don’t support you. Sometimes, you don’t notice that you aren’t supported until you see what a healthy relationship looks like in another couple. Relationships should be a safe space where you can be vulnerable and also grow. Think about how many of your anxieties can be traced back to the person you’re meant to trust the most.
- You’re with the wrong person. One of the biggest reasons why dating can cause anxiety is if you have realized you’re with the wrong person. When we look around at our lives and suddenly feel like something is wrong, that’s a step in the right direction. Furthermore, sometimes more than one insecurity or anxiety can be tied up in one person. The wrong person will put you down or laugh at you, or always prioritize their friends over you. It will make you start to interpret that and take it personally when you aren’t your partner’s priority. You will start to think that you’re not worthy of that love and attention, and that’s what dating the wrong person will do to you.
- You start internalizing everything that’s wrong with the relationship. Dating can cause anxiety when you don’t have the tools on your own to deal with the world around you. Being in a relationship doesn’t magically mean that we have great mental health, or that our hang-ups are resolved – far from it. Often, we find ourselves projecting our own insecurities on each other, or trauma-dumping because we feel safe. However, we have to ask ourselves whether WE are the toxic presence in a relationship; the person that’s got growth to do before they’re ready for a relationship. If you’re too mentally fragile and insecure, you might need to sit with your own growth rather than introduce another person to that dynamic.
- You’re not on the path you thought you would be. There are lots of expectations that we’re constantly managing: our parents, our boss’, our partner’s — to say nothing of our own expectations about how we thought our life would look. That means that you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. So, of course you’ll inevitably find yourself wanting. However, that isn’t realistic.
- You’re giving away control. Another risk with relationships is the fact that you start to rely on one person to be the sole source of your joy. That isn’t healthy for you or for them. It means that they’ll get careless and you’ll internalize all the ways in which your needs aren’t being met. It will make you feel trapped. This is one of the biggest ways dating can cause anxiety.
How to control your anxiety in relationships
- Get better at talking. I don’t just mean that you should communicate more. It isn’t quantity over quality, after all. Talking about dating anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean that you get to the root of what’s making you anxious. Be ready to be vulnerable and communicate with your partner in a way that you might not be used to doing.
- Relinquish a bit of control. If much of your anxiety stems from not being able to micromanage every element of the dating process or your relationships, stop. It’s important to take a gigantic step back and realize that you can’t control everything. Nor should you want to! Part of the magic of love is that you never quite know what’s going to happen. That can be terrifying at first, but retraining your mind and shifting your perspective can change that fear into excitement.
- Date different people. Look, it’s not your fault your picker is broken. However, if you keep choosing the same people to date who are totally wrong for you, it’s no wonder you’re feeling stressed. You may find that stepping outside of your “type” and trying something (or someone) new alleviates much of the pressure you were feeling.
- Consider medication. I know there’s a certain stigma surrounding both mental health and the ways of managing it, but medication is always an option. If you haven’t otherwise considered it, talk to your doctor to get some advice. It certainly may not work for everyone, but ensure that you keep an open mind. Do what’s right for you.
- Consider being alone. This will help you take control back from the relationship. You have to first acknowledge that you’re feeling anxious and that you need to act on that feeling. Once you do that, you’ll realize that being in a relationship might inhibit your ability to process your own emotions. Consider being alone to define your own boundaries and really understand what makes you tick. It’ll make you a better partner in the long run.
- Think about a therapist. In order to get to the root of what triggers your anxiety in dating and relationships, it might be necessary to get the experts involved. Talk to a therapist about what ways you can retrain your mind, or arm yourself with healthier mechanisms.