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It’s tricky to navigate anxiety when I’m dating someone new and even once I’m in a relationship my anxiety can continue to hang around. Dating with anxiety is hard. It’s hard to know how much to share with someone and what to keep to yourself. It’s hard to know when to ask for help and when to stand strong on your own. These things are all really personal but I thought I would share some of my thoughts, experiences and tips about dating with anxiety.
Be Your Authentic Self
I find the best relationships I’ve had are the ones where I am able to show up authentically. When people are insecure they will project their own insecurities on me and unintentionally be telling me to play smaller. I have even had people that I’ve dated tell me they didn’t like my blog or they thought I should give up on my dream of being self-employed. My anxiety runs wild in these kinds of situations because someone else is affirming all the fear I have in the back of my brain. I have found the partners that are very confident in themselves and what they are doing in their own life don’t ask me to dim my light and these men are never intimidated by my dreams or success. When I’m able to show up as my most authentic self and feel loved and supported a lot of my anxiety goes away.
Know What You Need
This is easier said than done and if you’re really not sure how to cope with your anxiety you should talk to a therapist. Write a list of triggers and a list of things you can do to cope with anxiety so you have an idea of what to expect and how to handle it. Be as specific as possible. The better you get at managing your anxiety on your own the easier it will be to manage when you add another person to your life. This way if you’re feeling anxious you won’t project that onto your partner because you’ll know why you feel that way and how to manage it. I also find that what I need changes over time and sometimes even in different situations. It’s important that you know exactly what you need so you can communicate that to your partner.
Once you know what makes your anxiety worse and how to cope with it you should communicate that to your partner. Let them know what anxiety looks like for you and how they can tell if you’re starting to get anxiety. Explain to them how they can help support you and what you would prefer that they do in these situations. Be as direct and as clear as possible. Anxiety is hard for anyone to understand and if your partner doesn’t have anxiety they might have a difficult time understanding what you need. Be willing to explain it multiple times and in more than one way. It can be intimidating to bring this up to a new partner but if they are the right person for you they will be understanding and willing to listen.
Listen To Your Gut
I have found that my anxiety can make it really difficult to listen to my intuition. I’m so used to brushing off uncomfortable feelings that I have that sometimes I have ignored really big warnining signs. If your anxiety is worse around someone you are dating that’s probably for a reason and maybe that person isn’t a good match for you. The people that you date should make you feel safe and should never try to pressure or intimidate you. Don’t let your anxiety or anything else excuse this behavior. If someone does something shitty to you they’re probably showing you their true colors. Choose to believe them when they show you who they are and GTFO. The worst situations I have been in were after I made excuses for someone elses bad behavior. One of the last people I dated made my anxiety way worse but I ignored that as a warning sign. I felt like I should be able to control my anxiety in any situation but really that person was not very nice and definitly not a good match for me.
It’s easy to get down on yourself and beat yourself up if your anxiety affects your relationship or your partner. I tend to do a massive downward spiral when I start to feel guilty and I’ll really beat myself up and make myself feel lousy. This, of course, doesn’t help my mental health and makes my anxiety worse and the spiral continues. Shake off the guilt that you have and keep moving forward. Getting down on yourself is only going to make the situation more difficult for you and your partner to navigate. Know that you are working on it and celebrate the small victories that you have. Having anxiety is difficult and it can be exhausting. Know that you’re on a long journey of healing and if you take a step back that’s OK. It’s frustrating but it’s all part of the process. Choose to love yourself fiercely even when things are hard and you find yourself struggling more than you feel like you should. It’s going to be really hard for you to accept someone else’s care and love if you beat yourself up in your own mind all the time or just generally aren’t very happy with yourself. Recognize that managing anxiety is difficult and you’re doing the best that you can. Write out what you would say to a close friend if they were in the situation you were in and practice telling yourself those things in your head. You wouldn’t tell a friend that they are ruining their life and messing everything up (or whatever your go-to self-insult is) and you shouldn’t say that to yourself either.
I hope these tips help you. Please know that even if you’re struggling with your mental health that you are inherently valuable in this world. You have unique gifts and perspectives that no one else does. Never let someone treat you like you are less valuable because you have anxiety. Know and believe that you are worthy of being loved in all the ways that you want and don’t use your anxiety as a reason to settle.
I am not a licensed therapist. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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