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What is dating anxiety? Nine signs this might be you

It’s the season to get online, to start the new year re-making your profile, but the thought of dating and putting yourself out there is about as exciting as getting a root canal. You know you have to do it but you hate it anyway. Could it be that you have dating anxiety? Here are nine signs that this might be you.

If you’ve always been the anxious type it’s hard to know what’s normal. Is it the ambiguity of dating or the anxious attachment style that makes you dread dating?

It actually might be both.

Anxiety by definition is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil. Anxiety is accompanied by nervous behavior such as pacing back and forth, checking, somatic complaints, and rumination. 

Anxiety is can be based upon the circumstance but it can also be an underlying issue. Psychologists refer to the distinction as state anxiety versus trait anxiety.

State Anxiety

Let’s face it dating is hard. Even if you are a calm person in general, there is a certain amount of ambiguity that happens in dating. This is referred to as state anxiety. The state or the situation itself is unknown. You don’t know if the next stranger will be the love of your life or a waste of time. Even after a date, you think has gone well its still up in the air if the feelings are mutual you don’t often get much feedback. Until you are engaged or married you may not be completely certain where you stand.


Trait anxiety, on the other hand, is the underlying anxiety you have. You are an anxious person. Because you have an anxious attachment style or your genes are anxious dating will be that much more complicated. Not only will you have to tolerate the ambiguity of dating but you will also take things personally. When a guy doesn’t call you back you think, ‘I’ll be alone forever, What did I do wrong?”

anxiety= attachment response

If you have trait anxiety you feel like you have a lot of your own self-esteem riding on your dates. Regardless of when you are anxious dates can feel like a threat. The threat is that you will like someone, you will invest in them and ultimately you will get hurt.


Not sure, if this is you, here are nine signs that you may have anxiety, check off those that apply to you.

1. you want to control it

Your anxiety makes you feel ‘out of control.’  In an attempt to feel more in control you tend to focus on small details. You focus on what you will wear, where you are going. Before your date you also want to know everything you can about your date, the information makes you feel better. Online, you search to find out what you can, some people call it ‘stalking’ you look at it as ‘homework.’ Whether you demonstrate outwardly or not you are a controlled person.

2. You race ahead

Another tell-tale sign of anxiety is racing ahead. Before dessert has been served your thinking of your wedding with the guy sitting in front of you. Hmm, he would make a good father? I can see us together. You start planning the next date, what you will say, where you will go. Will he get along well with your family?

3. seeing things as BLACK OR WHITe

Anxiety can make you see things as good or bad, black or white. Either he’s the greatest guy ever or you are upset, another douche bag wasted your time. Besides thinking someone is great or awful you also find yourself switching between being ready for love and never wanting to date again. As an emotional or sensitive person, you tend to see things through an emotional filter.

4. body tension

Anxiety is not only in your head, but it’s also in your body too. Anxiety shows up in the body as cold and clammy hands, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, muscle tension. Overall you have a sense of unease and feelings of fatigue.

5. avoidance

Anxiety is often linked to avoidance. You want to take a pill to make it go away. Makes sense you want to avoid tor mask your anxiety. On dates, you manage your anxiety by drinking alcohol. Some people soothe themselves with Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications known as Anxiolytics. 

6. You lose sleep and concentration

Another tell-tale sign os anxiety is your level of distraction. While you are waiting to hear back from a guy you are convinced is your future husband, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. It’s hard to turn your brain off. You ruminate and perseverate on ideas makes it hard to focus on anything else. Sleep can be challenging too, even if you fall asleep without a problem you wake up easily and can’t get back to sleep.

7. You care too much what people think

Most anxious people care too much what others think. In dating, you take things personally. It doesn’t matter if you like them back or not, you hate it when they don’t like you. It’s easy for you to idealize someone, especially at the start. Wow, look at how great they are. The problem is that when you put them on a pedestal, that means you are beneath them. It feels like they have power over you. Whether you hear from them or not can make or break your day and mood.

8. You get disappointed easily

Does it feel like everyone eventually disappoints you? From the beginning things are good, but over time you get frustrated and agitated. You wished they would say things differently. In your head, they sound compassionate and loving. In the real world, their message is not what you hoped. If only they would reassure you and let you know how special you are.


You don’t have a mirror, but suffice it to say with so much anxiety under the surface its hard to imagine that you don’t have some anxious behaviors. It’s not only what you talk about but your body language too. The speed you talk is fast, you have an expectant look, and you hold your body in a protective way. You ask lots of questions, heck you’ve got to find out if you are compatible. You say things that are less than confident, “I didn’t think you would show up. When I didn’t hear from you I worried you changed your mind.”


If you checked off five or more of the nine signs chances are dating anxiety is real for you. You can have fewer symptoms but the few you do have still negatively affect you. Underlying your anxiety is usually insecurity. As a result, you worry, am I good enough, attractive enough, stable enough for a good relationship? You worry that once someone gets to know you they might abandon you. Your anxiety causes you to feel ambivalent about dating. On one level you are ready for love on the other you hate suffering.

If you want to know for sure if you are anxious. Take my Love Style quiz, your results will show that you are either a Loyal Supporter or an Expressive Giver. Don’t worry you are not alone, the majority of women and men are anxious when it comes to love.

Once you know what it is and why dating is hard you can start to figure out how to cope and better manage your symptoms. In my next post, I give tips on how better to manage anxiety in dating.

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