Whether you have anxiety or you’re dating someone who does, learning about how anxiety works in relationships is essential. Understanding how to support your partner and set healthy relationship boundaries can help you feel closer.
It’s also important to work on your own anxiety triggers. You can do this by taking care of yourself and seeking therapy or counseling.
1. Getting Ready
Many people with anxiety have difficulty with putting themselves out there, and dating can add a new level of fear. They may worry that they’ll do or say something embarrassing, or that their date won’t return their texts or commit to a second date. This can cause a person with anxiety to avoid meeting new people or to dismiss dating as hopeless.
While it’s important to acknowledge that anxiety can be uncomfortable, it’s also critical to remember that avoiding anxiety-provoking situations only fuels the fear. It’s important to develop a toolbox of strategies for dealing with anxiety, including relaxation methods, communication skills, and self-compassion.
If you want to get back into the dating scene, try taking it slow and using exposure therapy. For example, if going on dates is too overwhelming at first, start by introducing yourself to potential matches online or texting them, and then move on to phone calls and face-to-face meetings. For more help navigating dating, a therapist specializing in anxiety can be a great resource.
2. Meeting People
If you suffer from anxiety, it may be difficult to open yourself up to strangers. But it’s important to remember your “why” — why you want to date, in other words. This will help you overcome your fear and focus on a positive outcome.
For example, a person with dating anxiety who is afraid of rejection might try to combat their fear by being the first one to communicate. This will prove that they can handle the stress of rejection and help them build confidence in their abilities.
Another way to manage dating anxiety is by developing healthy habits, such as maintaining hygiene, protecting sleep, and limiting technology use. These strategies will help people tap into different tools and support systems to address their anxieties.
When dating someone who has anxiety, it’s also helpful to learn more about anxiety disorders and how they affect intimate relationships. This can make you more empathetic, and it will also give you more clarity on your partner’s experiences.
3. Getting to Know Your Partner
It’s important to continually get to know your partner, whether you’re just starting out or have been together for years. This will ensure that you’re still on the same page and can strengthen your relationship. Getting to know them on a deeper level can help you tap into intellectual intimacy and then physical intimacy will follow.
Asking open-ended questions about their childhood, family & friends, leisure time, habits, and love can be great ways to learn more about them. Try to avoid asking questions with a yes or no answer because this can limit the conversation and prevent you from learning more about them.
Also, be sure to ask them about their stress level and what they do to manage it. This can give you a good idea of their tolerance and patience levels. Also, it’s important to find out what their favorite holiday is, so that you can accommodate them if they prefer Christmas over Halloween.
4. Getting to Know Yourself
Getting to know yourself is important in relationships, but it can be hard when you have anxiety. Your anxious mind might focus on what could go wrong or amplify your fears of failure or embarrassment.
Using relaxation methods, like breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation, can help calm your symptoms in the moment. Learning self-compassion, which involves forgiving and comforting yourself, can also diminish the impact of anxiety on your feelings.
Finding a way to be in intimate relationships without letting anxiety get the best of you can make it easier for both you and your partner. Taking it slow and moving through the dating process in a step-by-step fashion can help. Having a clear understanding of your values, interests and goals can make it easier to filter out people and situations that don’t align with your true self. This can speed up the time it takes to find a quality match. Getting to know yourself will also help you set boundaries that are healthy for both you and your partner.