Dating anxiety: how to stop obsessing and start trusting yourself

After my breakup, I dedicated a year of my life to self-improvement. I swore off dating, threw myself into my hobbies, reassessed my goals, and rid my life of all unnecessary drama and distractions. I thought that I finally had it all together. Until I met someone new.

Suddenly, the walls of the inner sanctuary that I'd so carefully constructed came crashing down, taking with them any previous sense of calm, clarity, or comfort. I sat helpless as an army of aggressive butterflies set up camp in my stomach, leaving me breathless, reeling and restless, love-drunk on a poisonous cocktail of lust and longing and loneliness-fuelled fantasies that had me questioning my own sanity.

I was a train-wreck waiting to happen, barrelling full-steam ahead towards destination heartbreak, and I needed to be stopped in my tracks.

When the object of my online affections suggested that we meet, I was over the moon. Those countless hours spent mindlessly swiping and small talking hadn't been a waste of time after all. Soon, I'd be face-to-face with my imaginary Prince Charming, and I'd never been more ready to be swept off my feet. Then he told me that he wasn't free to meet for a month.

The old me would have taken what she could get. The old me would have been grateful that someone like him would even consider talking to someone like her. The old me would have acquiesced and hidden her disappointment in her desperate pledge to be liked. And the old me would have pretended that everything was okay, even when it wasn't.

But the new me knows herself and what she wants. The new me recognises that no guy is worth losing her peace of mind and sense of self over. The new me is still afraid of being honest and true to herself, but she does it anyway.

So I told him that I wasn't willing to wait. In that one moment, I broke the habit of a lifetime. And the reward was far better than I could have expected.

Sure, I felt a little disappointed. But mostly, I just felt overwhelmingly proud. Proud of myself for recognising my boundaries and loving myself enough to stick to them. Proud of myself for acknowledging my true feelings and respecting myself enough to communicate them. And proud of myself for knowing my needs and trusting myself enough to say no to something that wasn't in alignment with them.

I might not have known him, but the magnetic pull that I felt was real, and I never thought that I'd be strong enough to walk away from something that I'd become invested in or someone that I'd become attached to. But I did.

I’m still here. I’m still living. I’m still happy. And instead of feeling like I’ve lost something, I feel like I’ve gained something.

By refusing to concede or to compromise or to commit to a situation that would've eventually made me miserable, I gained control of my own happiness. And if that's not a romantic victory worth celebrating, I don't know what is.

So what can you do when you meet someone new and you find yourself dizzy-headed and delusional, sweaty-palmed and spellbound, and terrified of losing your grip on reality?

Trust yourself. 
People are always showing us who they are. And if they show us something that we don't like, it's far easier to dismiss it than to acknowledge it. We get so caught up in the idea of what things could be like that we fail to pay attention to what things are actually like. But potential is a cruel and dangerous myth.

And if we label our genuine concerns as anxiety, if we attempt to manipulate the situation to suit our romantic agendas, if we brush off our true feelings in an attempt to make someone like us, we'll only end up kicking ourselves further down the line. Because if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If something feels too good to be true, it probably is. And if something doesn't sit well with us now, then it probably never will.

So stop ignoring the alarm bells in your head. Listen to your body. Trust your intuition. It's more powerful than you think.

Get grounded. Often, our romantic pursuits become so all-consuming that we forget that we had a life before them. Infatuation digs its claws so deep that we don't know where we end and the other person begins and, suddenly, our self-care doesn’t seem as important, our friends don’t seem as interesting, and our goals don’t seem as pressing.

But not only is maintaining a sense of balance, identity and purpose independent to our relationships fundamental to our well-being, but our attractiveness too. Because there's nothing more unappealing than someone who doesn't know who they are.

So instead of looking for someone to date, be the person you want to date. Channel your nervous energy into something that is meaningful to you and uniquely yours. Do more of what brings you joy. And if you find that these things feel dull in comparison to your date, then that’s even more reason to keep doing them.

Take your time. It's easy to get ahead of ourselves when we're dating. The dizzying chemicals kick in, the rose-tinted glasses come on, and before we know it, we're rationalising and excusing even the most undeniably obvious red-flag behaviour. We consistently and cheerfully cast aside our own needs, values and boundaries in our febrile and frantic quest for instant gratification.

Because taking it slow means letting go of our attachments to outcomes. Taking it slow means relaxing with uncertainty. Taking it slow means being patient. And, if you’re anything like me, the words 'taking it slow' have never been part of your dating vocabulary. But dating is choosing. And if we don't take the time to get know to someone, our choices will be shaky at best, and catastrophic at worst.

So slow down. Stop romanticising and start humanising. Take your date off their pedestal. Never allow yourself to be so blinded by infatuation that you forget what's important to you.

For most of my life, I'd been convinced that if I made myself available, if I put the needs of the other person ahead of my own, if I showed them that their inconsistency didn't bother me, I'd get the same in return. But it doesn't work like that.

No amount of running in circles, bending over backwards, or sacrificing our needs will make us the exception to the rule. And if we're dating someone whose rule is to keep people at a distance, then they're not the one that should be running in the opposite direction. We are.

At the end of the day, I might have lost a date, but at least I haven't lost myself. And I think I know what I'd rather have.

All my love x


  1. I love this, especially the ending. So much of my story has been about losing myself in relationships, but I'm finally finding a pattern that's not getting lost -- just finding the parts of a relationship that work and doing that only.

  2. Thank you so much :) I'm so happy you're finding what works for you x

  3. I'm super grateful I found your blog at tiny Buddha. This is spot on to my situation and I can't wait to be proud of myself for the same reason. Good on you buddy:)

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I'm so pleased you've found it helpful. Keep it up! x

  4. Yes, me too! Trying to be solid in myself, to respect myself and to not be afraid of disappointing others. Thank you for this! It helps to know I am not alone.

    1. Ah I'm so glad. You are definitely not alone <3 It's so hard to put yourself first, but you'll be rewarded for it in the end :) x

  5. To discipline myself to no contact is so hard. But its
    Only day 2! Will keep trying
    Thank you.