I am a 20 year old late bloomer with social anxiety that worsens over anything relating to romance. Now I have a guy I like that I think likes me back. We’ve been “talking” all summer via text because he’s got a job in a completely different state. I’m not sure what exactly I should be doing? Asking advice from my friends makes the anxiety worse because they think its funny that I struggle over the basics and make me feel like I’m a child or I’m doing something wrong….
First off, you are not alone in experiencing an increase in your anxiety over a possible budding relationship. Right now you are in a place where there are a lot of unknowns. You think he likes you back, he lives in a completely different state, and you’re not sure what you should do — of course your anxiety is going off the charts! That’s a lot of uncertainties to take on at once. I’m guessing you have other things going on in your life too, so remember to go easy on yourself.
It’s common for the people in our lives to unintentionally invalidate our feelings, though it doesn’t make it any less hurtful. It’s difficult for people who don’t have anxiety to understand the degree to which it affects our everyday thoughts and feelings. Because of this, they can often say things that are unhelpful and shaming. Try and find people who do understand your emotions and/or who make you feel heard, supported, and uplifted. And maybe make a conscious effort to filter what you share with those who don’t make you feel supported; sometimes it’s important to protect ourselves by not sharing as much as we used to.
You are definitely not a child and these are not “the basics” that you’re dealing with. Long-distant communication and long-distance flirting is a pretty big deal since it adds another layer of uncertainty to the situation. The guy I eventually shared my first kiss with was in another state and it was incredibly nerve-wracking to try to “just live in the moment” when all I wanted to scream was “where is this headed!!??”
You probably have obsessive racing thoughts, you are probably over-analyzing some details, and you are probably afraid you are doing something wrong (*spoiler alert* you’re not..you’re doing the best you can). If you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed, try and communicate that to him. If he cares about getting to know you, he will try to understand. If he is just looking for something fun, his reaction will probably reveal this.
If you are looking to see where things can go, I would encourage you, if it’s at all possible, to spend as much time together in person. Which is asking a lot of either of you since it requires you to travel to a different state. I’m not sure if you’ve already met in person, but if you haven’t already then start a dialogue about when that may occur (IF you want this to go beyond texting. If you are simply looking for a texting-relationship then where you’re at is fine).
What I quickly learned via my text & email based relationships is it’s much easier, for both parties, to curate a personality that may not give us 100% of the full picture. There are such subtle small things you can only glean in person (body language, how they treat waiters, what jokes they genuinely “lol” at, etc) that it’s easy to fall for someone via social media who doesn’t actually exist.
It is beyond scary, and your anxiety will increase, when you think about spending more time with them in person. But it’s important for both of you — and the growth of the relationship — to face that uncertainty in order to see how much better the relationship can be. Take some risks and see how tall you will still be standing after the dust settles.