We're all pretty anxious when it comes to dating. Even the most confident and generally logical person can crumble at the prospect of rejection from someone they're attracted to. This post is dedicated to a very special and particular group: chronic emotional dwellers.
Read and upvote on reddit.com
"The first two dates have been super nice. But oh god, what if he gets bored? What if we have nothing to say to each other by the third date and we hate each other?"
"You just move on to the next person."
My friend's no-nonsense response rang foreign to me. With my emotionally thin rice-paper skin, I live almost exclusively in the past and have a tough time letting go and moving forward. Maybe it’s my inner shy, self-critical and perfectionist Virgo coming out but I take dating way too seriously. If it doesn't work out, it's not because he's not the one for me but because I did something wrong to drive him away. I immediately discount all of my positive attributes while magnifying his best qualities.
Once I'm attracted to someone, I want that individual to be the one so badly. Projecting a make-believe fantasy of him in my head, I fabricate a flimsy, one-sided romantic connection after only a few, short encounters. The butterflies churning in your stomach are hard to resist but how can you really know someone in the span of a few weeks? It's especially dangerous for people with an anxious attachment style* because we mistaken the tumultuous highs and lows of dating with passion and love.
After getting my heart and hopes crushed several times last year, my friends sat me down for a dating intervention. I crave intimacy too fast from guys who aren't right for me. Patience is key in dating and getting all caught up in the emotions means missing red flags from the other person. I'm still learning to compartmentalize my feelings but I'm treating this new outlook as my personal growth homework.
If you're a highly anxious dater, you’re probably thinking about him right now.
Remember these five things when you’re tempted to put that guy you've sorta just met on a pedestal:
"But I care about him!" That's what you're telling yourself but you don't really know him. Studies show that you need to date someone for at least six months to know who they are. Just remind yourself that you're still learning about this person and detach yourself from daydreams of weekend trips to the Farmer's Market as a couple. You need time to see if he's worth caring about.
Hobbies! You are an independent, self-sufficient individual with an enriching life. We may have a naturally maternal instinct and an urge to assume a caretaker role towards someone we like and ignore our own needs. If you're into yoga, keep attending those Vinyasa Flow classes. Check out the UCLA Extension catalog if you're interested in transitioning careers and want to develop new skills to reach your goal. Just know that you had a fullfilling life before you met this person so don't neglect this fact. If you like working with your hands, I suggest taking a screen-printing workshop. Join orgs like this and volunteer with youth or at the Adult Literacy Center and feel good and whole all on your own.
Automatic thought records. When your mind goes a mile a minute, it helps to visualize common patterns in your thinking. Thought records are a mainstay of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Just write down every thought and list evidence of it being true or false next to it. Basically, you're talking yourself down by combating and disrupting your all-or-nothing thinking and harmful generalizations. Usually, you'll find that your many catastrophic thoughts are closer to fiction than being plausible. I carry a steno notepad with me wherever and constant journaling keeps my mind in check.
Your support system of friends and family. Some couples go into hibernation mode and meld into one person with an extreme need to do everything together (I don't recommend this -separate lives are sexy). And if you're anxious, you may start this process prematurely. Each person in your life provides a different perspective worth its value in gold. Think about reaching out to them before making yourself super available to the person you're seeing. Keeping every weekend night free for your could-be lover only puts pressure on yourself and may set you up for disappointment. Dating is a fun addition to your already awesome life so don't let finding someone as cool as you be the end-all, be-all purpose.
If it's early on and you're not exclusive, keep going on more first dates and meet new people. Be open to other possibilities instead of placing all your romantic eggs in one very wobbly basket. Daters with a lot of feelings need a distraction. Stay safe and play the field. You're worth a lot.