4 Things to Know About Dating With Anxiety
Navigating dating, especially while juggling other things like school, work and college applications, is a challenge in itself. Doing it with the extra weight of anxiety, however, can start to feel just about impossible.
The good news is that anxiety shouldn't stop you from dating (or doing anything you want to do, really)—rather it's just something that you have to take into account and find ways to deal with. So, if you're ready to jump into the dating world and wondering how to do it when you have anxiety, here are some things you need to know:
1. You're Probably Going to Overthink—a Lot
Anxiety, especially social anxiety, is heightened by the feeling that other people are judging us. Because of that, it's incredibly easy for people with anxiety to overthink any interactions with another person, and this is even worse when it's a person we're interested in dating. While this isn't something you can just make go away with some simple breathing techniques like the internet might try to tell you (oh, how we wish that were true), knowing that your overthinking stems from your anxiety rather than from reality can at least help you get a grasp on the situation and avoid spiraling about any particular conversation or interaction. Remember, anxiety makes your brain your worst critic, so no one is thinking as negatively about yourself as you are.
2. It's Going to Be Tempting to Spend All Your Time With the Person You're Dating
Dating with anxiety can affect your attachment style, which refers to the way that you think about your partner and the ways you interact with them. An anxious attachment style doesn't just make you overthink every little behavior, it can also make you want to spend your every waking moment with the person you're dating since being away from them leads you to start worrying that they might break up with you (for pretty much no reason, by the way). If you do start dating someone new, remember to set aside time for your own interests and friends, as well as time to simply enjoy being by yourself. Your friends and your mental health will thank you in the end.
3. You Might Start Thinking They're Trying to Break Up With You Regularly
Back to the overthinking thing once again, anxiety will make you dissect any slight change in your partner's behavior as them getting ready to break up with you. Reasons can be as minuscule as "because they didn't follow me back on Instagram right away" or even "he watched my story but didn't respond to my text yet." The thing is, you're your own worst enemy here. Live in the moment, try to distract yourself with some self-care or doing things that you enjoy, and most importantly: even if they do break up with you, you're amazing on your own! While they probably aren't going to break up with you, you're going to be okay even if they did.
4. Your Friends Might Get Sick of You Talking About Your Partner
Anxiety can cause you to look at things with a bit of tunnel vision, and this is especially true of romantic relationships. It's okay to want to talk about your partner with your friends, after all this person is an important part of your life, but they also shouldn't be all that you have to talk about or the subject you constantly change the conversation to be about. As far as how to avoid this behavior, it's first necessary to recognize when you're doing it. Along with that, take note of how your friends react to you talking about your partner (are they genuinely interested in what you're saying, or are they simply being polite and waiting to change the subject?) and remember to focus on your other interests as well. Remember: your partner is not what makes you interesting, they're just a person that adds interest to your already amazing life.
How to Survive Dating With Anxiety
Now that you know a bit more about what to expect when it comes to dating with anxiety, try these ideas for going about dating in a healthier, happier way:
1. Remember to make time for your friends.
2. Have your own hobbies that don't involve your partner.
3. Make your mental health a priority.
4. Know that you'll be more than okay no matter where the relationship leads.
5. Never make a big life decision based solely on your partner.
As much as we would like to think it's as easy as taking deep breaths and wishing anxiety away, it just isn't that simple for most of us. However, tips like those listed above and taking on a few other tactics can help keep the beast of anxiety at bay, even with extra step of dating involved.
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