Dating With Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder Can Make Dating Even More Stressful

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When searching for love, dating can be a fun and exciting experience. On the other hand, dating can also be somewhat intimidating and anxiety provoking. For example, when seeking a romantic partner, it is not unusual to worry about making a good impression, tackle fears of rejection or even feel stress over maintaining interesting conversation. Dating can be even more challenging when you are dealing with the symptoms of panic disorder.

How Panic Disorder Can Affect Your Dating Relationships

People with panic disorder are faced with many challenging symptoms that can interfere with dating. Living with panic disorder often entails managing feelings of nervousness, worry and fear. At times, it can be difficult to hide the intensity of these emotions. When dating, you may feel embarrassed about such feelings, thinking that your date is picking up on your anxiety.

Many panic sufferers also become preoccupied with controlling their panic attacks while out on a date. These attacks typically involve a combination of uncomfortable thoughts and physical sensations, such as heart palpitations, trembling, shortness of breath and fear. By focusing on avoiding these symptoms, a person with panic disorder may find it hard to simply relax and enjoy the date.

Some panic sufferers are so worried about dating, that they avoid it all together and deny themselves the joy of finding a romantic partner.

Even though panic and other anxiety-related symptoms can interfere with your self-confidence, it shouldn’t prevent you from finding love. The following tips offer ways to gain confidence and get past dating anxiety:

Be Open and Honest

It’s okay to let your date know that you are feeling anxious about meeting with them and making a lasting impression.

Simply being open and honest about how you feel can actually take the edge off some of your anxiety. Plus, you may even find that your date can relate and is having similar feelings of nervousness about dating.

Even though it can be best to come across as unguarded and authentic, there is some danger in oversharing during the early stages of dating. You can easily open up to your date about how you felt nervous about meeting them, but it is not necessary to share about your condition. Telling others about your panic disorder can be beneficial at times, but should be reserved for your closest relationships.

Unfortunately, the many misconceptions and myths about panic disorder can cloud a person’s opinion about this condition. If your date is dismissive or put off by your openness, you may be left feeling ashamed and disappointed. It will take time to build trust with the person you are dating, so take your time in deciding when it is appropriate to let the other person know about your diagnosis.

Be Ready and Relaxed

Feelings of shame and embarrassment about your symptoms can preoccupy your thoughts throughout your date. This can make it difficult to engage in conversation, get to know your date, and show your true personality. To keep from getting distracted by symptoms, plan ahead of how you are going to deal with them.

Relaxation techniques are a great way to manage stress and anxiety while remaining attentive to your date. You can do some subtle relaxation exercises on your date, such as deep breathing or silently repeating positive affirmations. Most likely your date will be completely unaware that you are engaging in these slight relaxation activities, giving you the space you need to feel more calm, control, and relaxed.

If you are worried that your panic attacks will be triggered during your date, try to participate as much as you can in the planning of the date. For instance, if you seem to have high anxiety in a car, suggest that you meet your date someplace, so that you can drive yourself. If being in a crowded area provokes your anxiety, recommend having a quieter date, such as dinner at a low-key restaurant or a picnic and walk in a familiar park.

Imagine the Best

Panic sufferers often struggle with faulty negative thinking, focusing on their undesirable traits and potentially worst case scenarios. For example, you may worry that you will have a full-blown panic attack while on a first date, causing your date to believe that you are “crazy” or undesirable. These types of thoughts can actually heighten your anxiety while you are on a date.

To overcome your negative thoughts, it may be helpful in envision more positive circumstances and outcomes. Using the self-help technique called visualization, you can calmly imagine yourself being more relaxed on your date. In the days leading up to your next date, try to clear 5 to 10 minutes each day to work on visualization.

To practice this technique, find a comfortable and quiet area where you can close you eyes and create your own daydream. Visualize yourself have a fun and relaxing date. Imagine yourself being less tense and more engaged throughout the date. Take note of all your senses, imagining that your body feels relaxed, your thoughts are focused on the conversation, and your words clearly express who you are.

Your date may not go exactly as you imagined, but through visualization, you can open yourself up to the possibility of being in control of your dating anxiety. This technique prepares you to feel more confident throughout each phase of your next date. Visualization also focuses your mind on more positive aspects of yourself and your situations.

Get Help to Manage Your Symptoms

If you find that nothing you try seems to reduce your dating anxiety, try seeking out additional help and support. Through psychotherapy, you can learn ways to change your negative thoughts and self-defeating beliefs while shifting towards healthier behaviors. A qualified professional can help you recognize what is contributing to your dating anxiety and develop ways to overcome these barriers.

Aside from individual therapy, you may also consider attending group therapy, support groups, or online support forums. Through these types of social support, you can meet with others who can relate to your challenges of living with an anxiety disorder. Group support offers a unique opportunity to develop coping techniques while managing any feelings of loneliness and isolation. Finding supportive and understanding people who are coping with similar issues can also help you deal with dating anxiety and any possible rejection.

Get Back Out There

Remember that most people feel a little anxious about dating. It can be especially disheartening if you are turned down for future dates or don’t hear back from the person again. If you believe your panic and anxiety symptoms interfered with your date, try to simply learn from the experience and remind yourself that it takes courage to put yourself out there. Through continued learning, experience, and persistence your future dates will go even smoother.

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