Can anxious people ever survive the stage of dating that happens after dates 1-2, but before a relationship is officially called? That to me is the greatest time of uncertainty and is just UNBEARABLE with anxiety.
It is understandable that you experience the greatest amount of anxiety not before the very first date, but two, three, four dates in. This is a hazy, grey, area just full of over-analyzing every detail. Because now you’ve sort of started to get to know the person. And you’re sort of started trying to figure out whether or not you want to pursue anything with them but you’re not positive they want to too, but then again maybe if they did you wouldn’t want to and that’d be equally awkward and and….
Our obsessive thoughts can lead to us beating ourselves up. We wish we could “just stop.” We invalidate ourselves by telling ourselves we’re being silly. Or we start contemplating backing out completely from the entire experience.
Instead of wishing you could stop your thoughts, take a step back and try to understand why they are happening in the first place.
It makes sense your anxiety goes bananas after the first few dates. This is the point where we must start being vulnerable. Someone will start to really know us. Real life (both emotional and physical) starts happening after the first handful of dates. This is very scary. And completely understandable.
The questions start bouncing around in your brain: You start wondering what the definition of the relationship is. What do you want? What do they want? Where could this go? Where should this go? Will they still like me once they see me at my worst?
When you start being vulnerable, you open yourself up to being hurt. This is where the obsessive thoughts are coming from. The desire to protect yourself and your heart. I get this.
The beginning of a relationship can feel like it’s out of your control. Being on the other end of things can feel like this: It’s like you’re standing on a rocky mountainside. Each pebble or rock beneath you is an intimate detail about yourself. You let one roll away to someone else — no big deal. Another, sure. But then another, another another, yet the more that roll away the faster they roll and then it’s an avalanche that is out of your control.
My advice for you is this: talk to the other person about how you’re feeling. If the other person is cool, they’ll see this as a positive thing. I’m not saying you have to give every hand away, or share all your secrets, or show them the skeletons in your closet. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or confused, or lost, or scared, just tell them. It’s a scary thing to do, but you will feel better.
Every man I’ve dated (or tried to date) I’ve told straight-up that I need to take things slow. And that I have anxiety. Some didn’t handle it kindly, but most did. And the ones who handled me kindly, were the ones worth sticking around for.
Don’t be afraid to simply say: I feel overwhelmed, can we talk about it?
Reading this post was very helpful for me; it really did hit home. I had a third date last week and it was a lot of fun, until I started to freak out and froze up completely. I couldn’t communicate why I was feeling anxious then, but I did send him a message they day after to explain I sometimes flip out when I am letting loose, when I feel I don’t have everything under control anymore. He responded I didn’t need to worry and that all is good, but I still do. Like you say, I am wondering if he will still like me when he sees more of me; if he sees I am actually very often very scared of things -and not only of sheep, like I told him jokingly. This post helped me realise that it’s okay that I am having these anxious thoughts, that I should accept them and then move on. I freaked out, so he saw a part of me he hadn’t seen before, and although I can’t control whether he wants to see me again, I know that at least I was honest to myself and to him. Thank you for making it more clear for me; it is much calmer in my head now.
Holy moly this comment is such a rockstar comment — thank you SO much for taking the time to write it. It sounds like what you’re going through is exactly as you said, he’s seeing part of you he hadn’t seen before. That can be scary as shit. Keep being strong in your vulnerability and keep being confident in that strength.