Anxiety can be crippling.
The swing between good and bad days can make you feel as if you’re taking three steps forward and five back, over and over again. Even if you’ve developed a good hold on your anxiety, you may see it resurface during a stressful situation, like planning for or going on a date. While anxiety can negatively affect your romantic life, there are ways to combat its effects.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes” (1). Some of the mild physical side effects of anxiety are stress sweat, raised blood pressure, and feelings of unsettledness.
People that suffer from anxiety, anxiety disorders, or chronic anxiety may feel these symptoms and some more severe when feeling uncomfortable or nervous. Dating can be stressful and nerve-wracking, and having anxiety heightens these feelings.
Many people with anxiety may avoid dating, as Dr. Kathleen Smith brings out. Because of fear of embarrassment and a fear of being constantly judged by others. She goes on to say that some people with anxiety may fear abandonment or may just struggle with managing a relationship (2). Trust issues, attachment anxiety, fear of abandonment and just general anxiety can all negatively affect your relationships and your dating life. Never fear, however, for not all hope is lost. You can still have a successful relationship even with anxiety.
There are multiple ways to reduce anxiety and become more open to the idea of dating and meeting new people. One of these ways is anxiety therapy. Anxiety therapy can address your triggers and reasons behind these triggers. Volume 13 of James P. Curran’s Behavior Research and Therapy focused in on anxiety that can be experienced when in situations with the sex that you are attracted to, particularly in romantic or dating settings. Curran’s studies found that the training of social skills and the use of desensitization (exposure therapy) may be effective in reducing dating anxiety. Social skills can be honed and rounded out with the help of anxiety therapy and anxiety counseling (3).
This counseling can also help you find ways to expose yourself slowly and effectively to new and potentially unnerving situations as a way to help you adapt and reduce anxiety in those situations. Anxiety therapy can also help open the lines of communication in a relationship, allowing the person with anxiety to explain themselves to their partner and allowing the partner to learn how to help and listen to their significant other. The APA states, “psychologists can help couples improve communication,” and anxiety counseling certainly helps with that (4).
While anxiety may be aggravating and sometimes frightening, you don’t have to let it control your romantic or everyday life. You can take steps to control and deal with your anxiety, allowing you to live a happy and fulfilling life with the people you love.