Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Anxiety and Dating

The following is an article I wrote years ago when dating was still something I did. I'm now happily married. 

Anxiety tends to make many things in life difficult. Highly anxious people are never sure what they will be able to accomplish without having an anxiety attack. Simple tasks like going to a doctor appointment or to the grocery store can trigger anxiety. Therefore, something that is inherently nerve-wracking, like dating, is going to be extremely difficult. All of the things that may make you nervous when you are dating, how you look, how you smell, your personality etc., are coupled with the fear of having an anxiety attack.

Living with anxiety is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. A person who suffers from intense anxiety may actually be anxious about anxiety. People do not want to have an anxiety attack on a date. It can be very embarrassing, despite the fact that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, not everyone understands or wants to deal with anxious people, so it is hard to reveal that side of you on a date. All you want is for that date to go smoothly and to feel like yourself.

The above scenario only applies to anxious people who are brave enough to date. Many people with anxiety are not. This is another way that anxiety can make dating difficult. An anxious person may want to avoid having an anxiety attack so much that they actually avoid the better things in life. Sure, it will keep them from having an anxiety attack over a date, but it will also keep them from having someone to love and to love them.

Symptoms of an anxiety attack can range from difficulty breathing to uncontrollable shaking and/or crying. Not exactly the impression you want to make, right? Well, having this happen can really kill any chance you had of a second date if the person you were out with is not very understanding. Furthermore, the experience of having this happen can turn you off dating altogether, but it shouldn't!

The good news is that there are a lot of understanding people out there. There are also many other reasons to continue dating, despite your anxiety. One of them is that avoidance perpetuates anxiety. Therefore, if you get out there and have a good time, you may stop fearing your attacks so much that you make yourself have one. Another is that dating is a part of adult life. You are not going to let anxiety control your life, are you? As an anxious person, you are going to have anxiety whether you live your life the way you want or not, so you might as well do what you want uncomfortably instead of doing nothing and still being uncomfortable.