(source: Pexels/Tirachard Kumtanom)
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Dating when you have anxiety can be a stressful (and sometimes confusing) experience. It can be especially frustrating towards the beginning of a relationship when you’re not only first learning about your partner, but also learning how your anxiety manifests itself when you’re with a new person.
However, it’s important to know that dating as a person with anxiety doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to be a deal-breaker in your relationship. By learning to be open and honest with this new person, and also identify the areas where your anxiety could fog your judgement, you can have a thriving and happy relationship.
Below are some helpful tips on how to date when you have anxiety so you can make the most of a new relationship.
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1. BE HONEST
People who suffer from anxiety are plagued with tons of negative thoughts, especially concerning their relationships. You might spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about the status of your relationship (including everything that could go wrong). From wondering why he/she hasn’t texted back, to worrying if someone is cheating, you might experience feelings of doubt, confusion, and constant worry.
How can you solve it?
Be honest with your partner. Explain honestly how anxiety affects you, and try not to worry about the other person’s reaction to it. Being honest and open are attributes we respect in one another. For example, you can let him/her know that you get super nervous when you don’t receive a text back within an hour, for example. Let the other person know that communication and validation go a long way with you, and getting a quick message back like, “Hey, got your text. Busy right now, will call you later,” can make you feel soooo much better.
2. ASK FOR SPACE
Sometimes the outside world becomes too overwhelming for a person with anxiety. If you require some space and time to recharge (including ducking out of a party early or preferring to stay home by yourself instead of hanging out with bae), communicate your needs to your partner. Explain that it’s not personal, and that you will definitely want to hang out again later.
3. DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING PERSONALLY
Maybe your new date isn’t responding to your texts right away, or maybe the responses are super short — and this is not at all what you’d like. It’s easy to think that the other person’s behavior is about you. But it’s usually not. The truth is, how someone acts towards you says more about him/her than you.
Maybe your new boo has had a rough day or is simply feeling overwhelmed. Anxiety causes negative and irrational thoughts that usually have no rooting in reality — so before you assume the worst about why you haven’t heard back, give your partner the benefit of the doubt. If anything, first ask if everything is okay (instead of assuming something is wrong).
4. TALK ABOUT IT
Don’t be afraid to talk with your partner about your anxiety. Explain what triggers it, how it feels, and what he or she might be able do to help make it better. By being super honest about your anxiety, your new sweetie will have a better understanding of your experience and learn the best way to support you.
5. PRACTICE DATING
Sometimes your anxiety can be so overwhelming that you just want to stay home and watch Netflix instead of going out on a date. However, like anything, practice makes perfect. Though you might always live with anxiety, you can learn how to handle it more effectively by stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while and practice dating.
Here’s how: Go on a date. Practice small talk. Make eye contact with a stranger. It will feel weird and uncomfortable, but the more comfortable you are with getting out of your head and enjoying yourself, the more you will like dating.
Anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your relationship. Instead, you can see it as an opportunity to develop a stronger, deeper bond with your partner. By learning about your anxiety together, you can have a relationship that’s less stress, and more fun!