There is no ‘calm down’ button for us. No chill meter. No way out when we are already in over our heads. There is no ‘off’ button for when our anxiety hits us. And when it comes knocking, we suffer.
So you can imagine how hard dating is for us.
We fret over the smallest of things. We overthink until we feel like our heads will explode. We think and think and think. It never turns off. It never disappears. It never slows or quiets down. It never stops, no matter how happy we are and no matter how in love we are with our lives or other people.
See, anxiety doesn’t care if we want to date. Anxiety doesn’t care if we have a crush on someone new. Anxiety frankly doesn’t care if we are entering into a new relationship.
It likes to sneak inside our heads just as soon as we start feeling like we have everything in control.
My anxiety intensifies as soon as my butterflies take flight. Forget about staying calm during a first date, I am always one drink away from canceling it. Forget about staying chill and cool, I am a nervous, anxious and awkward mess.
Before a first date, I tend to get stuck in my head and my anxiety recharges to the next level. I immediately think of everything that could go wrong. Is he going to kill me? Is he a major creep? What if he thinks I’m awkward? What if I get too drunk? What if I kiss him but he doesn’t want to kiss me? What if I run out of things to say? What if I really like him but he doesn’t like me and never calls again?
Not even a glass of wine or a shot can ease my nerves before the dreaded date happens. By the time I’m finally sitting down waiting for the guy, I’m covered in sweat and regret.
The initial fear I have before a first date is down right excruciating. So you can understand why people with anxiety despise dating.
Dating is hard for everyone. It’s exhausting and tiresome and sometimes disgusting. It’s hard and is most definitely not a walk in the park. And for people with anxiety, dating is literally like climbing Mount Everest or running through a blizzard. It’s not just as simple as two people meeting for coffee or drinks. For people with anxiety, it’s so much more than that.
People with anxiety tend to not date much because it is so overwhelming for them. So, when we finally come around and meet someone who we are interested in, it’s a huge deal. And I know that might seem crazy or overdramatic. But it’s a big feat for us to go through with it and to come out alive.
And the first date is just the first mountain to climb and conquer. It’s not the end of the game or battle. It’s not even near the end of our worries.
The thing about anxiety is that it doesn’t stop when we get into a committed relationship or meet someone lovely. It doesn’t stop as soon as we find ‘the one’.
Anxiety is an ongoing journey. A never ending adventure of ups and downs and even more downs. So before you judge a friend or a loved one freaking out about a first date, or anything really, think about what is going on in their head. Put yourself in their shoes.
Have compassion and empathy, even if you can’t quite understand it.