The thing is, nothing about anxiety is rational. Having anxiety and dating is especially hard because, often, you realize that it’s the anxiety talking and sabotaging you, yet you’re unable to prevent it. If anything, you watch it magnify the closer you get to someone and you desperately hope it’ll stop.
Consider this is a guide for yourself to put your own anxiety in perspective and hopefully get past it, or for your partner to understand the chaos that anxiety is creating in your head.
You Doubt That You Matter To A Partner
You can be the most confident person most days, and then anxiety gets to you, and suddenly, your need to connect, belong, and feel secure in a relationship raises questions in your head like “Would they miss me if I wasn’t around?” “Are they just with me because I’m convenient or because of what I do for them?” and “Would they do the same for me?”
Often, you push someone away before they fully even get to know you.
You Take Everything Personally
Every comment they make or action they take feels like a direct attack on you. You start to make leaps of logic, assuming that they took too long to answer because you’re needy, or that they didn’t compliment your new shirt because it looks bad, or that they’re in a bad mood because of you.
You create conflicts out of non-existent issues because you didn’t see it that way.
You Worry They’ll Find Someone Else
In the beginning, you wonder if you’re the only person they’re talking to, and when you agree on it, you fear that they’ll change their mind and meet someone else.
You’re too anxious to fully devote yourself, or you take it to the other extreme and hold on too tight because you dread the day that they decide to walk away (even with no reason to believe that they would).
You Feel Sick Thinking About The Future
This doesn’t mean that you don’t know what you want or hope for, but the fact that it holds so many variables and none of it is guaranteed is enough to flip your stomach inside out.
What if they leave you? What if you get sick? What if one day you realize you don’t want to be with them but it’s too late? How are you supposed to predict and prepare for any of it?
You’re Tempted To Act Out
Anxiety can get so overwhelming some days that you desperately need to release it through some sort of channel. This can drive reckless behavior, drinking, snapping on your partner irrationally, or exercising to an extreme.
Luckily, there are healthy ways to release the tension if you’re aware of the fact that that’s what you need to do. You can find healthy outlets in things like art, venting, music, journaling, moderate exercise, or meditation.
You Constantly Need To Talk Yourself Down
You constantly feel like you have to rewire your assumptions because, even though you know they’re irrational, you can’t help feeling them.
Anxiety creates automatic, intrusive thoughts that tend to be negative. You need to be consciously aware of each thought so that you can acknowledge it, find its reason, and then replace it.
You Need More Alone Time
This might be hard for a partner to understand, but you need your alone time to work through your thoughts and take care of yourself. You don’t want to depend on them to fix you, and you don’t want to take it out on them either.
There are going to be days you just need to spend in bed by yourself to process and overcome, and that can be hard to ask for and explain.
You Assume The Worst
If there’s one word you could associate with anxiety, it’s “overthinking.” Your mind is often your own worst enemy. As soon as you’re put into a situation of uncertainty, no matter how small, it races with all kinds of worst-case outcomes and possibilities.
You do your best to brush them off, but once you open Pandora’s box, there’s no way to undo it.
You Get Stuck In Cycles And Routines
We’ve established that a lot of anxiety stems from uncertainty. Sometimes this means it’s holding you back from trying new experiences, taking risks, or even letting go. As a consequence, you stagnate yourself in a safe routine that can grow stale over time, even making your relationship boring.
You’re capable of reigniting the fire by very gradually growing the risks you take; otherwise, you’ll get “stuck.”
You Overcompensate Out Of Fear And Guilt
You feel guilty that they have to deal with you, your mood swings, your far-fetched thoughts, and overthinking. Plus, you fear that eventually, they won’t be able to put up with you anymore. So you overcompensate and try to be overly generous and affectionate.
This risks confusing them and even unbalancing the power dynamic in the relationship where you end up giving more than you take.
You Don’t Seem Present
You can’t help but often feel very “in your head,” and that can make you seem distracted and create a lack of connection.
The reality is that you often do have trouble focusing when someone is talking to you—even if you’re interested and want to hear them out, you still can’t shut off your racing thoughts.
You Come Off As Controlling
The only way for you to try to tame your anxiety is to feel as much in control as possible. You think that if you have control, then you can predict the outcomes, create stability, and prepare for the worst.
However, instead, you risk becoming overbearing and too controlling of your partner, leading to the opposite effect.
You Can’t Help Your Trust Issues
Since you’re constantly doubting yourself, your relationship, and your own thoughts, you wonder why your partner wouldn’t have the same doubts about you. You feel like either your anxiety will push them towards someone else, or you struggle to trust them in the first place regardless.
You Wonder How Someone Can Love You Through It
You feel like your anxiety makes you a lot to handle. You keep asking for validation and reassurance, and you wonder when you’ll just become a burden. You think of it as unattractive behavior and fall into a cycle where those thoughts make you even more anxious.
You wish you were more easygoing and could just turn these thoughts off.
You Struggle To Just Be Yourself
Your anxiety causes you to be overly self-critical and self-conscious. Especially in the early days of a relationship. This makes it hard to be your authentic best self on a date.
Instead, you’re uncomfortable and nervous and can create an uneasy dynamic for the person you’re on a date with.
You’re Easily Irritable
You’re angry at yourself, and you’re a little bit angry at the world. Why do you have to sabotage yourself like this, why can’t you just think “normally”?
Plus, you’re constantly on edge from the buildup of anxiety, and you accidentally take it out on the wrong people. You’d be surprised to know that we all deal with a certain amount of anxiety, and there are ways to rewire it and tame it.
You’re Guilty Of Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Anxiety makes it so you dread conflict and don’t always know how to process it and deal with it. As a result, you avoid it altogether.
This doesn’t erase the issues at hand though, so instead, you might act out through passive-aggressive behavior instead. You need to find a way to address it so that you can reach a resolution.
You Get Accused Of Being Overly Critical
You seek some sort of perfection. You need things to be a certain way or look a specific way, and you get anxious when you can’t make them fit your vision. So you begin to critique them until they do.
Your only intention is to bring whatever it is to its fullest potential, but it doesn’t always translate that way.
Your Partner Feels Helpless
You don’t know what exactly you need to help you, and as much as your partner cares and loves you, they don’t know how to help you. They can feel helpless navigating your ups and downs and validating you over and over.
This is why you need to not be reliant on them. There’s strength in getting the right kind of help.
You Avoid Dating Altogther
You think the easiest solution is to avoid dating altogether. This way, you won’t have to worry about anything dating-related or about subjecting someone to your anxiety so intimately. But having anxiety doesn’t make you any less loveable or deserving.
All it means is that you need to be aware of it and find the ways that work for you to get through it. Those ways do exist.