I Have Intense Dating Anxiety & It’s Keeping Me From Finding Love

Dating anxiety is tragic because it keeps people from experiencing deep, meaningful relationships in their lives. I’ve suffered from this since the moment I got my first crush as a pre-teen and it’s still plaguing me to this day.

  1. It goes all the way back to my childhood. I’ll always remember when my dating anxiety hit. It was when I was 11 years old, sitting in class when an eighth grade boy I had a crush on walked past the classroom door. I remember getting paranoid that other students sitting near me would think I was weird for looking at him. I didn’t want them to know that I was crazy about this random guy. It felt scary and embarrassing and not at all magical or exciting like they say it would in movies. My stomach sank, but not because it was full of butterflies.
  2. I’m simultaneously desperate for a relationship and deathly afraid of being in one. Like other forms of social anxiety, dating anxiety is like an oxymoron. I really really want to be close to someone, but the second the opportunity presents itself, I completely freeze up and try to find a way to either change the subject or physically run away. It sounds extreme, but it’s literally like a fight or flight reaction that I can’t control.
  3. The second an interaction turns romantic, my heart starts to pound. I’m fine interacting with a guy on a friend level. I’m actually very good at small talk, but the second he suggests we go out on a date or hints at something like that, the room starts to spin. I end up feeling like I’m doing something wrong or that he’s making a mistake, that he really doesn’t mean what he’s saying. That’s not a normal way to react to someone liking you.
  4. I’m pretty sure my anxious energy is driving guys away. I definitely know it’s not my looks that are driving guys away. I wear makeup, work out, and dress well. I’m at least comfortably average. It’s my palpable fear of dating that makes guys weirded out and it’s frustrating because I don’t feel like I can control it. I feel threatened when a guy wants to get to know me on a romantic level and I don’t know what’s behind it.
  5. I have this unwavering belief that I’m not relationship material. At a base level, I feel like I’m the exception to the human race, like I’m just not worthy of being loved or being in a relationship with someone, which is completely absurd and not rooted in reality at all. It all started in high school when everyone else started dating except me (because I was too scared).
  6. When I find out someone likes me, I feel sick to my stomach. Totally not a normal response to finding out someone likes you and I know that, I just don’t know what to do about it. It doesn’t matter if the guy’s good looking or a troll—it still makes me nervous. I get this feeling of dread that takes over my whole body. What is going on with me?
  7. I try to fight through it, but it’s almost like my brain is stuck in that terror mode. I have this inkling that my brain is just prone to freaking out or something. I have a sensitive nervous system and get stressed easily, so I guess that means that the prospect of dating someone is one of my top stressors. Totally nonsensical but true.
  8. I guess essentially, I’m afraid of getting that close to someone. People talk about “fear of intimacy” all the time and I’m pretty certain that I have that. My thought process goes a little something like this: “Oh, this person wants to get to know me, that’s great… but what happens when they find out all this other stuff about me?” I get scared that they’ll make fun of me, mock me, or just straight up be mean to me. I don’t have the confidence to brush that kinda stuff off, so it feels very scary.
  9. Sometimes it causes me to literally run away from guys who like me. True story. I was talking to a guy at a party and he suggested that we go out for dinner and I literally made a beeline for the snack table and avoided him the whole night. I’ll never know where that could have led because I sabotaged it for myself.
  10. Honestly, sometimes I feel like a guy. I hear my guy friends talk all the time how they have to deal with rejection and how they get nervous before asking a girl out and I can totally relate. I’m nervous about getting asked out and feel like I’m always on high alert making sure it doesn’t happen.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.