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Dating anxiety.
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bubble_fix posted:
Hello, all. I know this situation isn't nearly as dire as many others posted here, but it has affected my life negatively, so thanks for reading.

I'm a guy in my early 40s. I have significant dating anxiety. I don't have a problem meeting women or people. My dating anxiety occurs in the 2-5 date range with women I am very interested in - the purgatory between a first date and the start of a relationship.

I will (and have, as of tonight actually) sat and obsessed for hours of why things aren't the way I think they should be. I could type out a laundry list of issues I obsess over but I'd say it seems to be all "normal" dating issues people fret over — perceived issues in communication styles, commitment, intentions, etc. I will then have a massive release of relief when things aren't as I thought they were.

I'm here today because I am dating a woman. I super like her and don't want to blow it. We have been on 3 dates. I had significant anxiety between dates 2 and 3 about communication and her online profile, and despite coming somewhat close to ending it (she didn't text me first + online profile is still active = she's not interested = I'll end it now to save myself the trouble) I pulled myself together with HUGE effort and date 3 went off without a hitch and actually ended fantastically - we had a big heart-to-heart whereby she said she really really likes me and established that we are not dating anyone else (though no mention of taking her profile down — I don't have one but I have a hidden one I use to spy on women I date from online). We then ended up in her bedroom for a heavy super sexy make out session.

When I left her place that night of the 3rd date (Thursday) I said I'd text her in the morning. There was a chance she was going to have friends in from out of town so she said she'd call to make plans based on when she'd known their status. I texted the next morning (Friday) about I was thinking of her, etc. She returned the comments but no mention of plans. It's now late Friday and she hasn't said anything about the weekend. I am having major anxiety (sat here for ~7 hours with race brain) over the fact that to me it's the simplest thing in the world to let a person know so they can plan accordingly for the weekend. I just can't get over how someone can communicate like this. I never would do this. Also, I have not spied on her profile — if I were to see it still online tonight and showing activity in the last 24 hours (and especially "online now") I'm 99% sure I would end things. The pull right now to do this is almost irresistible. If I don't hear from her tomorrow (Saturday) I will have mega anxiety — should I have simply called on Friday? Is she expecting me to be The Man and initiate plans even though she said she'd let me know? I'm also having compounding anxiety issues — anxiety that she is not having this anxiety, anxiety that that I am tainted, anxiety that I'm going to blow it, anxiety that despite attraction we are not compatible, anxiety I'll never find anyone as attractive as her, anxiety I'll come off as the dreaded clingy/needed/insecure wimp if I contact her about the weekend, etc. etc.



Yes, my friends have counseled me that keeping busy and communication is key but that doesn't help me in the here and now, plus it feeds into my anxiety as mentioned previously. I keep physically active, I try breathing exercises, I try to keep busy socially, which all helps, but I still have major issues. I've tried behavioral cognitive therapy (seeing him next week) but I didn't get a lot out of it, other than for him to listen to me. This is really negatively affecting my life (esp. work) plus I don't want to blow it with her. I don't know what to do.


Thoughts?
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Reid Wilson, PhD responded:
Hey, bubble_fix-


I am sorry to hear of all your struggles and worries. I don't have a fix for you, but I have some thoughts. (Of course, this is now Monday, so much has probably transpired since you posted!) I have very little understanding of/information about you, so take all of this with a grain of salt. The function of worry is to be step one in the problem-solving process. When you worry, you have to decide whether your worry is a signal or noise. A signal means you need to problem solve and take action. And you're quite familiar with noise: repetitious unproductive thoughts that distress you.

Your friends' advice sounds right on in general: to communicate. I know you think you would be sticking your neck out, but when one really is infatuated with a person and isn't sure what's going on with that person, one becomes insecure. That's normal. So you can be excused for asking her again what her plans are when you haven't heard from her in a timely fashion.On the other hand, you have a serious problem with obsessing, and that is the noise. You need to learn to tolerate those obsessions/worries popping up. You can't suppress them. But you need to view them as noise and let them go. "Let them go" does not mean that they stop popping up; it means that you don't embellish them, that you don't consciously continue thinking about that topic. You refocus your attention on other activities, hard as that may be.

You must actively work on your obsessing, and the best way I know to do that is to take action on the worries when you think they are legitimate and acknowledge the worries that are just noise, but don't wrap yourself up in them. You are going to have worries, over and over again, regarding whether the current woman you are dating is the right one, etc., etc. You need to move into the present moment and stop moving into the future. As soon as you start allowing your thoughts to dwell on what the future might hold, you will get into trouble. Stay in the present, experience fully the present. And take the risk that by not worrying about the future, you might make a terrible mistake. You must take the risk of making a painful mistake by your decision to not over-think the future. That's how you begin to win over noisy worries.
 
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healyn responded:
Hello there,
I'm sure this is probably now a moot point, but here are my thoughts. (Being a female and all...)


Dating isn't easy for anyone. Adding the anxiety issues on top of it, it can just be dreadful.

The world we are living in now sends mixed messages all over the place. The guy can't call for 3 days. The guy better call the next day or be done with him. Don't call/communicate too much. Don't call too little. The man needs to "chase", but can't be too aggressive.

Here's the thing. Often women are:
#1 wanting the guy to show his true colors=true intentions.
#2 wanting him to "be the man" and "chase" the women
(Side-note, men are known to prefer this action as well, so as difficult as it is, you have to make the effort)
#3 wanting to be EXTRA SURE he's a good one, a right one, before committing fully. (Women don't want to seem desperate, foolish, or act too quickly)
#4 making sure she knows exactly what (and who/type) she wants/needs, and when.


The fact she hasn't taken down her profile is a good one. She is keeping things casual, as she should.

You obsessing over her profile being up or not, is not helpful or accurate in the status of your relationship. STOP CHECKING IF/WHEN SHE'S BEEN ONLINE. You don't know why she's on or not, so stop thinking the worst thing possible. (I know you KNOW this, but it has to be said.)

After you've dated a few months, and have had the "exclusive talk", then se should take it down.


if a girl hasn't responded right away to text, it's probably number #1 or #2 above. She can't be too "easy to catch" and "available", whether she is or not.
It's good for her to have her own life and maintain that. Especially if she dates someone and it doesn't work out, it prevents her whole life from crumbing around her.

Stop online (or in any other form) stalking her. Stop. Seriously stop. It's wrong, creepy, and only causes immediate issues for yourself, and issues for her once she finds out you're watching her. And she will find out.

Find something else to do. Yes, text her and CALL HER (better than texting), so she knows you're still interested or whatever. If plans fall through, don't take it personally. Things happen. If she doesn't make herself available to you, (if it keeps not happening) then move on. If she re-appears, fine - you can decide how you then feel about her. If not, you're already on your way.

CALL HER. Texting is nice for sweet messages after you've been dating, or just little flirting, but TALKING is important. Hearing each other's voices are more important that a lot of people may realize. Heck, if you want to, text her and ask when is a good time for YOU to CALL HER.

Make your intentions clear. You like her, you'd like for her to be your girlfriend. Is she interested in taking your relationship to the next level (dating exclusively).


Things happen. Just as she doesn't know what you're dealing with in your personal life, you don't know what she's dealing with.

It should be all good, fun, easy-breezy. If it's not, you're not ready for this journey. Take a time-out for yourself, gather your thoughts, and try again.

And... stop stalking people online. Seriously a lose-lose situation.


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