How Do You Date With Anxiety?



Name: EmEm
Question: What do men think of nervous women?
I have a lot of social anxiety, and a past with trauma and attachment issues. Despite that I’m self-aware and actually pretty easy-going, low maintenance, and fun and interesting to be around. I want to date but find it hard to commence because of shyness. (I have had several long term relationships.)
When I’m attracted to a man I feel panicky and tremble, and fear I come off as needy. So I avoid interaction (obviously counter-productive) when a man I like shows interest. I suspect this comes off as playing hard to get, or as being uninterested. Recently I had incredible chemistry wth a man I worked with temporarily – but he is in a relationship. Due to extreme attraction and thus nervousness I was not even able to get to know him in a friendly way, sadly, even though we seemed to have a lot in common – which he even mentioned. I know this sounds lame, especially at my age, but I’m wondering if nervousness is as huge a turn-off as I fear it is, and how others struggle with this issue. I know there are meds for anxiety but they can make you sleepy.I’m hoping that finding it’s not as bad as I think it is to be nervous might help me feel a bit more confident.
Age: 59


It’s interesting that you’re more concerned about how men feel about your anxiety than the anxiety itself. Who cares how men respond to it? Do something about it for your own peace of mind and quality of life. That stuff doesn’t just disappear or work itself out.

I’ve learned a lot about myself since staring therapy a couple of years ago. Namely that I have what they call a dismissive avoidant personality type. I’ve been self-reliant since I was five or six years old. Add forty years to that and I’ve become so closed-off  that I didn’t feel an attraction to anybody for years until recently. And trust me, when that happened I was/am a total mess.  All I can think about is the numerous ways I’ll fuck it up or make a fool of myself.

But you know what’s helped me? Medication. While I don’t take anything for anxiety, I do take Wellbutrin for chronic depression. I can’t believe I ever, ever fought that decision. I still get sad and turn in when I fear rejection or loss, but I’m better able to cope with those moments. I’m also more focused. So take the god damn meds if your therapist (and I hope you have one) thinks they could help. There’s a difference between shyness and social anxiety. Shyness is easier to overcome by forcing yourself to be more social. Social anxiety is debilitating.

As for the question of whether or not men are turned off by anxiety or nervousness, my answer is: it depends. Does the anxiety cause you to behave in a way that might scare a guy off or think you’ll reject him? If so, then yes, it’s a problem. You first need to determine what it is you’re actually struggling with and then need to devise a course of action. That requires the help of a professional. Keep in mind that none of this – the anxiety, the meds, the therapist – means you’re a kook. All it signifies is that you – like the majority of the population – have some challenges.

Let me tell you something: nobody gets out of here alive so you might as well make the most of every day and fixing whatever it is that is preventing you from experiencing life to its fullest. Show me someone unscathed and unbruised by life’s ups and downs I’ll show you a person who’s never taken any risks or pushed themselves beyond their mediocrity and complacency.



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6 Responses to “How Do You Date With Anxiety?”

  1. BTownGirl Says:

    Cosign all of this! For what it’s worth, I did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety a few years ago and it worked really well. There is SO much out there now for treating anxiety and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much of a difference therapy/medication/etc can make.

  2. Anne Says:

    In addition to meds, look into EMDR. It’s supposed to help you process old traumas and replace core beliefs about yourself (such as “I am anxious”) with more positive beliefs. I’ve tried it myself and I think it’s helpful, although not miraculous.

    • Bill Says:

      Another thumbs up for EMDR.

      I found it especially helpful if you continually get stuck in those “loops” that play over-and-over in your head. To say I was skeptical at first is an understatement… I recall “hocus-pocus” coming out of my mouth.

      I was wrong… it worked astonishingly well for me.

    • Tater B. Says:

      I’m so excited someone mentioned this! My brand new therapist asked me if I wanted to try EMDR and I jumped at it. I’ve been struggling with anxiety since I was three (I thought the man who lived on the corner was going to shoot me….seriously) and I am ready for change.

      It also doesn’t hurt that my therapist has a big, adorable Chocolate Lab who calmed me down a lot at the first session!

  3. BigG Says:

    I imagine that you can probably get away with some anxiety, nervousness and neediness. For men with these traits it is the kiss of death and leads directly to involuntary celibacy, since generally men are still responsible to assuming the upfront risks of rejection associated with initiating and romantically escalating a relationship. And add to that the fact that women tend to be attracted to confident men.

    But if your level of anxiety is above a certain point, then it will likely be an issue, as your compensating actions are likely to be interpreted as a lack of interest by men. So as others have mentioned, I suggest trying out different meds, perhaps hiring a therapist, and exploring cognitive-behavioral therapies. If you go to the self-help section of a Barnes and Noble, you should be able to find books on CBT and workbooks that help you challenge negative and anxious thoughts that are leading you to feel anxiety.

  4. MARK Says:

    Nervousness, anxiety about the social scene. That’s not uncommon for a lot of people.

    Many people can make adjustments or otherwise overcome those jitters on their own accord.

    However, your level of anxiety seems to go beyond that level. You are stuck in an unhappy and unproductive situation. If those issues are materially impeding your social/dating life then some professional help might be in order to identify those issues at work and to map out possible routes of treatment might be in order.

    Best of luck and hope things improve.

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