What Dating With Anxiety Is Really Like

What Dating With Anxiety Is Really Like

If you suffer from anxiety, you know it interferes with every relationship in your life. Anxiety can make you feel like a burden and that everyone in your life is secretly judging you. This causes friction in your relationship if your partner thinks you see the worst in them — when it’s strictly your anxiety speaking if your partner never dropped a single red flag. So here’s what it’s like dating with anxiety and how to ease it.

What dating with anxiety is really like

  1. You overanalyze everything. My anxiety makes me hyper-vigilant. There’s been time’s someone didn’t use a smiley face in Microsoft Teams when they normally would, and I spent the whole weekend thinking I was getting fired. So, when dating with anxiety, you overanalyze your date‘s body language, tone, and speech. If they say goodbye in a funny tone, you end up thinking they’re upset with you or don’t like you at all. Logically, you know people aren’t robots, so they’re not going to act the same all the time, but it’s exhausting being on high alert.
  2. You fear the worst. When dating with anxiety, you find yourself dwelling on the worst-case scenarios. I’ve even looked up car accidents in the area if someone hasn’t been online in a few hours. I don’t even expect them to be speaking to me all day, but if they’re not active at all when they usually are, my mind immediately rushes to the worst-case scenario. This can cause issues in your relationship when your partner feels like you’re too protective of them. Or worse, if you start worrying about being cheated on because your partner was home late, they (understandably) are offended you think they’d do that – especially when they’ve never given you a reason not to trust them. This kind of overthinking has nothing to do with actually thinking your partner is terrible, but it can be hard for them not to take it personally.
  3. You crave reassurance – which can annoy your partner. When dating with anxiety, you crave reassurance that everything is okay. This relief is only temporary too, so you go right back to worrying soon after. For most people, not fighting with their partner all the time is a sign the relationship is healthy. If you have anxiety, unless your partner explicitly tells you that everything is fine, you worry it isn’t. It becomes an endless cycle when needing reassurance gets on your partner’s nerves.
  4. You get upset if they call you out. Anxiety can manifest as thinking people dislike you, so someone calling you out for something validates your anxiety. Although you respect your date’s boundaries, if they respectfully call you out on something, it feels like a way bigger deal than it actually is. Even if it’s something small, like being asked to be more punctual, you feel like it’s the beginning of the end. Getting super upset when someone else is actually upset by your actions can come off as manipulative, even if you don’t mean it that way and aren’t a manipulative person, because it makes the conversation about reassuring you and makes them feel bad for setting the boundary at all. Then, you start wondering if you are actually manipulative and self-centered.
  5. Meeting their loved ones is terrifying. Meeting new people is always overwhelming when you have anxiety. You’re hyperaware of your words, looks, and actions. When you come home, you replay the whole day in your head, feeling like you did everything wrong. This can leave you worrying if you made a bad first impression (although you probably didn’t) that your partner’s loved ones will convince them to dump you.

What to do to make anxiety less daunting

  1. Ground yourself to stay present. Grounding is a technique where you concentrate on your body or surroundings to pull yourself out of your thoughts. According to Dr. Sarah Allen, grounding can help you calm down quickly. “When your mind is racing mind, grounding brings you back to the here-and-now and is very helpful in managing overwhelming feelings or anxiety,” the psychologist explained.
  2. Put it in perspective. The worst part about anxiety is it often feels like the end of the world for things that really aren’t. So, remember that while a date going badly is upsetting, it’s not literally going to ruin your life.
  3. Communicate. Hiding your anxiety when dating will only make it worse. You don’t need to bare your soul to a guy you just met, but if you’ve been on a few dates, it can help if you explain how your anxiety manifests. This allows your date to explain the reasoning behind some of their behaviors so you’re not fearing the worst.
  4. Seek help. There’s no shame in seeking help for anxiety, whether you see a therapist or take medication. Therapy can help you challenge your thoughts in a safe environment, explore potential causes of your anxiety, and find healthy coping mechanisms.
  5. Reassure yourself. Something that helps me is remembering that if I don’t reply to someone’s text immediately, it doesn’t mean I’m angry with them; it just means I’m busy, exhausted, or forgot they even messaged at all. So, I remind myself that other people also do these things. Since my behavior rarely has anything to do with other people, it means their behavior rarely has anything to do with me, either.
  6. Remember, people actually don’t think about you that much. Other people don’t actually think about you as much as you worry they do, and if that actually is the case, then that’s pretty weird and is still more of a reflection on them than on you. So, if you stumbled over your words introducing yourself to your boyfriend’s parents, his mom isn’t going to recount it to literally everyone she knows. She might not have even noticed.
Aisling is a 20-something year old Irish writer who is the life and relationship guru of her social circle. She loves music, movies, and coffee.