Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about romantic relationships. Like many women, I daydream about my future husband and my wedding. I may not seem like it, but I’m a sucker for romance. I love going to weddings. I daydream about a future boyfriend/husband initiating romantic gestures, like surprising me with flowers, or even just sending me a random “thinking of you” text.
Unfortunately, because of my anxiety, I’ve never had a boyfriend, I’ve never been on a date, and I’ve never been the target of random romantic gestures. This can be a hard fact to deal with, especially when it feels like I’m surrounded by couples.
Unfortunately, like many people who have anxiety disorders, initiating a romantic relationship is difficult for me. Many people want romantic relationships, but they’re sometimes harder to get for people who have anxiety disorders. Getting and retaining a romantic relationship is harder for us because we often believe that we’re not “worthy” of a relationship because of our struggles/quirks. Personally, I struggle with this.
Today, I wanted to take the time to discuss romantic relationships and anxiety disorders.
To those seeking romance when you have anxiety disorders:
- There’s someone out there for you. There’s someone who won’t get scared away by your struggles and quirks. I know that this seems hard to believe; sometimes, I have a hard time believing it myself. Bear in mind, there are over 7 billion people on earth, and you only need to find one person. The odds are in your favor!
- If you struggle with social anxiety, it may take some time before you feel comfortable enough in social situations. If a romantic relationship is something you want to pursue, talk it over with your therapist and work together to become more comfortable in social situations, The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to connect with people.
- If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, lean on more experienced friends that you trust for help. Most of the time, they’ll be excited to help you.
- Above all, remember that if you want something badly enough, there’s usually a way to make it happen. There are many paths to finding romance. It may take a while to find the path that works for you, but you can do it.
To friends of someone who has an anxiety disorder:
- I know it’s exciting to see your friend ready to embark on the next stage of their life, especially if they’ve never shown any interest in romantic relationships. However, make sure that you don’t take over. This is their journey, not yours.
- That being said, feel free to offer help, such as dating/romantic advice (especially if they’ve never been in a relationship before) or setting them up on dates. Make sure you only help if you’re asked.
- In a similar vein, if you know someone who would be a good fit for them, offer to introduce them to each other.
- If you know of any resources, such as books, that would help, suggest these.
- Above all, be there for support. This is a new experience for your friend, and it’s a journey full of twists and turns. Navigating romantic relationships can be even harder when you have an anxiety disorder, and they will likely need your support.
To those who have a crush on someone who has an anxiety disorder:
- Don’t wait for them to make the first move. Because of their anxiety, you’re likely going to wait a long time.
- If they’re not interested, they will likely let you down in the gentlest way possible because they won’t want to hurt your feelings. Sometimes, though, they may be so afraid of letting you down that they won’t say if they aren’t interested. If you suspect this to be the case, watch out for nonverbal signals and reassure them it’s okay to say “no”.
- Don’t be afraid to give someone with an anxiety disorder a chance, especially if you like them. They may not be eager to go to parties every weekend, but they can be amazing boyfriends/girlfriends. For example, it may take them a while to fully trust someone, but once they trust you, they’ll be deeply loyal to you, which decreases the chances of getting cheated on. They may not like loud, crowded parties, but they can show you how to take pleasure in the small moments of life. They may not seem very talkative in large groups, but if you talk to them one-on-one, they can talk about everything and nothing. They also tend to listen more than they talk, which is good in any relationship.
If you have an anxiety disorder, seeking romance can be a daunting task. It can be discouraging at times, especially if it seems like you’re the only single person out there. Hold your head up high; your time will come. Someone out there will fall in love with the wonderful person you are, warts and all. You are worthy of romance; don’t you dare tell yourself otherwise.