Dating with social anxiety.

 

A while back, I wrote a post about why dating apps don’t work for me. I told you all about my romantic side, how I want to meet people in real life rather than over an app that has the fire emoji as its logo, and I got a lot of reactions from it. Not online, funnily enough, but from friends. About how this is 2017 and well, that’s how dating works now and if I didn’t come to terms with it, then I’d just sign up for a lonely future.

As much as I somewhat understand where they are coming from, there is something else. Something I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud; a deeper explanation of something I’ve mentioned before. “[Dating apps] force me to approach the other person in a somewhat romantic (or at least sexual) way from the beginning, and that’s not for me.”

Yet another aspect of my life that I have mentioned before, albeit very briefly, is that I have struggled with mental health problems in the past. I’ve never given them names, and whilst there’s a few that go hand in hand together, for this particular topic, one triumphs them all: social anxiety.

I want to meet new people and I want to be able to open myself up for dating and love but I simply cannot do it on apps where people are sending me suggestive messages five minutes after ‘matching’; I can’t deal with the all-day-every-day-texting unless I have known someone for a while or took a liking to them in some shape or form. I don’t want to be told that someone thinks I’m ‘wildfire’ and how they can’t wait to spend a day in bed with me.

Once I’m comfortable with someone and I feel safe and okay, I will open up. I know it. Even if I met someone at a bar or on the pier or at a party, I’d be okay to handle them better simply because I can hear their voice, see their body language and interpret the way they look at me. But I cannot hold this up over written messages and, quite frankly, if someone has told me all the naughty things they’d do to me before I can even say ‘hi’, well, it makes me not want to meet up with them, no matter how much I fancy them based on their photos.

 

Following on from that, I worry already about what happens if I do meet up with them. As an anxious person, it is easier for me to meet up with someone after having met them in real life, simply because my body has already signalled whether I feel okay in their presence or not. I’m worried that they expect a lot from me based on the messages they’ve sent me or whatever they’ve interpreted from my photos, and I fear that they will go too far too soon. I wonder if they expect one hell of a date from me which I then can’t deliver. What if they suggest to go somewhere or do something which is a triggering situation for me? When will I run out of excuses to make; when is the time where they put me ad acta? I can’t nor want to mention anything remotely close to anxiety or panic attacks within a mere few moments of ‘knowing’ someone, so how does one phrase what’s going on in one’s mind without sounding like an idiot?

I never had to date with (social) anxiety and panic attacks because, well, up until two years ago, I didn’t have to deal with it at all. It wasn’t something that was in my vocabulary, let alone my life. I had always been a social butterfly but life and people and circumstances have given me those struggles which now fit in with my character like a missing jigsaw piece. And, who would’ve thought, these two years are also exactly the time that I’ve been single.

It’s hard to accept that something is now a part of you and that it influences certain aspects of your life. It was difficult in the past, when I had to leave situations because I was feeling anxious and panicky, but having it impact my love life is a whole different story. I had to deal with not being accepted for who and what I was way before I entered the world of constant worries and sickening thoughts, and it left a mark on my heart. Back then, I understood that there was no reason for me to believe any of the things that were said to me, but now I feel like there actually is something, which is reason enough not to accept me. Not to, well, love me. After all, who wants to deal with someone who has to avoid or leave certain situations because of an irrational attack of nerves and panic?

I don’t know what the future brings and if or when this will ever turn out positively but until then, I hope this post has given those of you, who might struggle with a similar problem, some hope and reassurance that you’re not alone in this. We’ve got this.

’til then x

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