If you already have a tendency to obsess, adding another person to the equation doesn’t help.
Ever worry when you have absolutely nothing to worry about? I do. I sometimes envy anyone who doesn’t struggle with anxious feelings on a daily basis. Putting aside all of the daily struggles and nuisances we all deal with, I struggle with anxiety in general. I’m anxious if the sun won’t shine if my Internet goes out, if I forgot to pick up bread, or if the cat litter hasn’t been scooped.
So you can only imagine how difficult it must be to get through the day without obsessing, over-thinking, and struggling with control issues. Now, add dating to the equation. Because loving someone with anxiety isn’t an easy thing.
Dating with anxiety is basically equivalent to running into your seventh grade bully on the subway only to find out that they still hate you. For no reason.
If you already have a tendency to obsess and control, adding another person to the equation doesn’t really help the situation. Perfection seeking, constantly worrying about the bottom dropping out, dissecting every move and every word in anticipation that the relationship will ultimately end and you’ll be at square one again can make you a scattered, jumbled, unrecognizable mess.
Those late night calls with your girlfriends trying to figure out what he meant by that and where is this all going? Yeah, I do that all by myself.
I spend an embarrassing amount of time wondering what he’s thinking or feeling and how I fit into the equation, which leads to contemplating what I’ll do if I don’t — and even deeper — why I wouldn’t fit into the equation in the first place. I end up analyzing each kiss or wondering why he didn’t take my hand or why he’s so quiet.
I become certain something is off, even when there’s no evidence to that theory. While most sane women go through these thoughts and emotions when it comes to dating, for someone who already struggles with anxiety, this added process can be another load on top of an already overstocked cart.
Before you judge me and label me as insecure, needy, someone with low self-esteem, or someone with control issues, remember: I’m human. I’m also someone who’s been deeply hurt and disappointed by numerous people. (And yes, I’ll admit I’m meticulous at hiding my “crazy” behind smiles and my easy-going nature.) But still, it’s debilitating.
So what’s my remedy? I write about my anxiety. I talk about it in therapy and to my friends, I use CBT exercises, I pray, I cry, I use self-talk, and I play with my cats. I push through it so hard sometimes that I feel like I’m a force of nature – only to have those debilitating thoughts pop up out of the abyss.
It makes me angry because I know my worth and I know what I bring to the table. I know I’m smart, ambitious and successful. Yet sometimes even I succumb to the innate desire to be loved and accepted.
Being anxious, in general, becomes exacerbated when I get involved with someone. As a result, I sometimes wind up projecting my issues onto that person and that makes me feel like I need to be hauled off to Bellevue ASAP. But I fight. I fight on a consistent basis because I believe in my fundamental right to be sane and, most of all, happy. I believe that the key component of dealing with my existing issues is awareness.
If I become unaware of my own anxiety and stop utilizing the tools I’ve acquired, then I’m prone to act out, demand, be paranoid, needy and irrational, and a happy relationship doesn’t grow from that.
Honestly, I wouldn’t want the person I’m dating to exhibit those qualities, so I don’t want to do that either. I have to believe that like any disease — and anxiety is one, no matter what anyone tells you — my mental illness can be managed successfully so I can improve the overall quality of my life and my ability to function in the dating world.
This article has been republished from Your Tango with full permission. You can view the original article here.
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Jennifer Guinyard LMSW is a single mom living in Brooklyn. She has been featured on YourTango and XOJane. When she is not running after her rambunctious boy, you can find her highly caffeinated and over-analyzing text messages at her local coffee shop.