Are you experiencing relationship anxiety or is it a gut feeling? There really is no good way to tell if the anxiety you’re feeling is because you have relationship anxiety and are overthinking or if you have the gut feeling that something is off for a reason. If you take your fears to your girlfriends you are bound to get all kinds of advice and ideas for how to tell if there is something amiss.
Typically that advice has something to do with checking his phone or understanding “signs” that they have experienced when there was something not right with a relationship. While it can be helpful to hear others’ perspectives, especially from a friend who knows you so well and knows your relationship history, the reality is that a relationship is between two people and ultimately it is you who will ultimately have to handle and assess the situation.
If you have been dating someone for a couple of months and you are anxious about the relationship; if you are wondering if there is something not quite right; or if you’re perhaps worried that you are wanting to be in a committed relationship and he is just not there yet, we understand. There is really no one way to know whether it’s a gut feeling or just relationship anxiety, especially if you have been hurt before. If I can offer some advice for you to determine how to proceed with a relationship, it would be this: be open and honest, both with yourself and your partner. Communication, personally, has been the only way to work it out in those instances where I was struggling to determine whether it was a gut feeling telling me something was up or if it was my past history at play creating fears of what could happen based on what has happened in the past.
How I Am Learning To Cope With Relationship Anxiety:
For me, relationship anxiety is a little complex because I not only have social anxiety and fear letting people in and getting to know me, I also have a dating history that doesn’t bode well for being easily able to trust. Often, I resort to that fight or flight situation when trying to get to know someone new. I used to give a guy a few dates and at the slightest bit of confusion or what I would claim were mixed signals, I would leave the situation without confronting it. Of course, some dates just don’t click and of course some of those dates did give me plenty of mixed signals to get the hint- he’s just not that interested! But needless to say, there were many moments in dating where I would let the anxiety get the best of me and jump to conclusions, overthink texts and comments- trying to find those signs that were proof that there was reason to be anxious and resort to the flight response. While I sort of knew what I was doing wasn’t the best approach to dating- I felt like it just made sense and figured that the right guy would lead me to be free of relationship anxiety. But of course, this assumption just led to more flight responses and passing up on situations before I could get vulnerable.
While I do often hear that people experience this ease when they meet “the one”, I will say that as someone who has been anxious since the day they were born, it is hard to believe that I will be without any relationship anxiety. Not to mention, I don’t know how empowering and potentially misleading that statement is for us with anxiety to think that suddenly our struggle will come to a halt by meeting that special someone. Regardless, the question still comes down to how do we navigate relationship anxiety while dating and how do we decipher between the overthinking that comes from having relationship anxiety or a gut feeling?!
I just learned how to navigate this territory this past year when I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to start giving myself some agency in dating by communicating my thoughts and feelings and gaining clarity before allowing my anxiety to consume me and become closed off or totally abandon the situation, much like I used to. How has that looked for me? It means that I am honest with myself and the person I am seeing and letting them know where I am at, how I feel about the current situation and having talks using those effective “I feel” statements to let the other person know where I stand and allow them to express how they feel. It may seem uncomfortable at first to open up and be so vulnerable but I do believe that with a genuine person it is well reciprocated and very much appreciated. Not only just that but that once you start to be honest and upfront in dating – the easier it gets and more natural it becomes. I like to think of it like how we think about other aspects of our lives- that we have to risk and embrace uncertainty, be vulnerable at times to get to a place we want to be, so why would I avoid that in dating?
Once I began doing this, I found clarity and while clarity didn’t mean getting the response I would hope to hear (which happened the very first time I committed to communicating over flight response) it filled me with ease (despite rejection) because getting a honest answer/understanding that person’s thoughts and feelings is so much better than being consumed by that state of mind where you are filled with what ifs and endless hours spent with your girlfriends trying to think of possible reasons for why they did or said that. We may not always know whether it is our gut or intuition forewarning us or if it is our anxiety consuming us but once we open up we can better assess what is going on and how to proceed. We hear how critical communication is for any type of relationship so why wouldn’t we start off a new potential romantic relationship with open, honest and effective communication?!