If there was an award for Most Instances of Unnecessary Anxiety on a Date, I’m sure I’d win in a landslide against all of my fellow anxiety sufferers. Before I fully delve into this topic, let me explain what anxiety actually is for those who may not know. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Let’s just acknowledge that a lot of things in life have an uncertain outcome, so yeah, you can guess how much I worry about things. Some may assume that they have anxiety by their general understanding of the definition (which could potentially be true), but actually dealing with anxiety on a daily basis can be lot more socially crippling than many can comprehend.

One aspect of my life that tends to be plagued with overthinking and anxiousness is my dating life. Dating is supposed to be one of the fun parts of life where you get to meet interesting people, go out to new places, and enjoy exchanging opinions and details about your life with someone else in hopes of building a deeper connection. When you have anxiety, things are a bit more complicated than that.

As I’ve stated, there are many instances when my anxiety gets the best of me. How have I coped in the past, you ask? By drinking, of course. No, this isn’t an ideal solution to the problem, but I’ve found that a drink or two (or five) can make me feel a little less anxious…for a short period of time. Even after the initial nerves wear off and the alcohol kicks in, my anxiety tends to creep right back up and then a different set of irrational scenarios and fears/concerns arise. I’m wondering if I drank too much, if I’m slurring words, if I look careless, if I’m talking too much, if I’m divulging too much personal information, if I wore the right outfit, and the list goes on.

Even if I’m completely sober on a date, it can be pretty stressful attempting to suppress my anxiety and put my best foot forward instead of putting my foot in my mouth.

If you think this is bad (or annoying), the real worry hasn’t even started yet. My anxiety kicks into overdrive after the date is over and I start wondering what the guy thinks of me, if he’s willing to go out again, if he thought that I wasn’t paying attention for a split second, if he’s legitimately interested in getting to know me, etc. This is annoyingly amplified during communication afterwards – I’m consistently reading too much into conversations and begin to worry if the response isn’t exactly what I imagined it would be. I suppose some of it could be underlying insecurities intensified by anxiety turning my mind into a shit-storm of doubt and worry. What most people don’t understand however, is that this isn’t simple overthinking, it’s an actual disorder and it requires time for me to get under control.

The good thing about having realized these anxious tendencies is that I can actively work on altering them and being less anxious in dating scenarios. One way I’ve been attempting to deal with my dating anxiety, especially on the first date, is to simply breathe and get myself into the mindset that it’s just a date and regardless of how it goes, my life won’t drastically change because of it. The more I realize that dating is supposed to be fun, the less anxious I feel and the more excited I get to show guys who I am without my mind going directly to potentially negative scenarios.

Overall, these worries may seem minuscule to some and others may think it’s me being overdramatic, but dealing with anxiety makes all of the above points seem like crucial issues that are difficult for me to see as insignificant. I’m young and still learning how to deal with things, but have gained confidence in seeing that noticing these instances of anxiety can be the first steps in regaining control.