Whenever I start to feel something, I run. I overanalyze everything and usually it ruins the chance of having a relationship with the individual before our first date. This is due to my anxiety and trust issues I’ve developed over the course of my life. I’m not ready to date and I convince myself that all I need is my best friend…and food.
Whereas, my best friend, who also struggles with anxiety and trust issues, has been in a relationship with someone for over a year. Since she’s older and has more experience than me, I often go to her for advice. She agreed to let me interview her for this.
Me: Having anxiety, do you find it harder to date/be in a relationship than the typical person? How so?
Carly: I would say that it’s hard in that there are a lot more insecurities with the strength of the relationship – especially if you’ve had some trust issues in the past. When you’re away from someone long enough, the paranoia can kick in; but, it’s definitely all about convincing yourself that your worries are unwarranted – that can sometimes be hard to do, depending on the nature of the relationship. If you can find someone who understands your insecurities and your worries, and validates that they’re there for you, it helps reduce that worry a lot more.
What are a few examples of struggles/worries you’ve had?
I would say that one of the biggest ones is that the person isn’t as committed to the relationship as I am. I’ve had a few where I wasn’t sure if the person I was with was 100% just seeing me, or the feelings weren’t there all the time; that can breed a lot of worry that things are going on behind your back (that probably aren’t), or the person will leave unexpectedly. Everyone’s outlook on relationships depends on how they have been conditioned to think about them, either from their own experiences or others. Unfortunately, with a mental disorder, this can be amplified. Like, if it can happen to Beyonce, it can happen to anyone… Right?
Another common misconception that we’ve grown to believe in our young lives is sex = love, and that’s one of the big perspectives that can mess with the anxious mind as well. If you already have those trust issues, you’re more apt to think that if someone’s not having sex with you, they’re getting it somewhere else – which, obviously, isn’t always the case.
Do/did you tend to over analyze stuff? Like texting, his behavior around you, if he really likes you?
Yeah all the time. Not as much as I used to though. It stopped gradually once I got to know that my fears weren’t really valid.
Would you say you trust your boyfriend? If so, how did you learn to trust him? Do you still have moments when your anxiety says otherwise?
I do, but it definitely didn’t come easy. My last relationship was a rough act to follow, and it left a lot of trust issues behind. We were both fresh out of relationships and because his ex was on the outside looking in trying to start drama, it took a lot to get over that hump. But, it’s become easier to talk about as the relationship’s progressed. If I’m unsure about something I ask for clarification instead of letting it slide, whereas, at the beginning of the relationship, I would hold it in out of fear of getting hurt – even when deep down, I knew that wasn’t even the case.
How much does he know? Are you open and honest with him or do you hide a lot of it?
Aside from you, he knows the most about me.
So, I’d say I’m pretty open and honest.
Mind you, with any relationship, that doesn’t always come naturally. You really have to build that trust.
When it’s at the point that someone can read you and knows when you’re panicking and when you’re not without you telling them, I’d say you’re in a pretty good, safe place.
Have you ever wanted to run or distance yourself due to your anxiety? How did you not?
Well, I think a lot of relationships have those points. But, the main question is whether leaving that person behind is going to solve the issue or make it worse. If you really care about someone, you’re going to work through any issues – anxiety or not. Otherwise, you’re going to get stuck on the ‘what if,’ and that has the potential of torturing you even more.
When you’re thinking negative/anxious thoughts, how do you change that mindset? And do you do it yourself or do you talk it out with someone?
It can be tough sometimes, but you just have to learn how to differentiate what’s inside your head from the reality.
Talking it out helps, for sure. But I find that my anxiety is something that I have an easier time dealing with on my own. Part of that is because I’ve been living with it for so long that I’m really the best one to understand it.
Explaining it to people helps, especially if they live with it as well; but, it’s like a fingerprint – everyone’s is different.
What advice do you have for someone with anxiety who wants to start dating?
I would say try to go in with an open mind.
You’re allowed to have your expectations of how things are going to go, and you get to choose how much you hold back; but, make sure you don’t let that get in the way of your happiness.
Also, be as honest as you can with the people you’re seeing, especially regarding your anxiety. You don’t have to go into super detail, but just enough so that they know that it can affect the way you react to certain situations.
People do respect that, and the right person will make sure you’re comfortable.
Did you have a hard time telling him you loved him for the first time? How did it feel to finally say it? How did it feel to hear him say it?
It was at the point where I felt it already, so it wasn’t too bad. I was waiting for him to say it because I didn’t want to mess it up. So it felt good.
At what point did you start to become comfortable with your boyfriend?
I can’t really pinpoint when exactly… Usually when you start dating someone you either get progressively close or you don’t. I mean, I can still safely say that that comfortability grows every day; but, it’s just kinda something that happens once you get to know a person.
Every day with him is still a learning experience.