Hey hopeful romantics,
First things first, if you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, would you hit “reply” and leave me a one-sentence review? I’ll use the reviews to show other hopeful romantics that they can expect from Words with Kirstie.
And I’ll be forever grateful!
Now onto the show…
Anxiety is like a Regina George. If you’re not familiar with Mean Girls, I recommend you watch it. It’s arguably a pop culture foundation of my childhood. Aside from Anchorman, it’s the second most quoted movie (Source: me).
Regina has two best friends who flank her sides at all time, Gretchin and Karen. But even though they’re besties, Regina won’t hesitate for a second to betray either one of them, as long as it benefits her.
Anxiety functions in the same way; it acts like it’s the best friend who promises to keep you safe but talks crap about you behind your back and steals your boyfriend.
Anxiety can be your absolute best friend you’ve had since elementary school or the friend you see every now and then because you met in college.
Anxiety acts like a best friend when, in reality, it doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
I’ve always written about Depression because I’ve been formally diagnosed with it, and, during my worst bouts, it’s something that consumes my life.
But then the pandemic came along, and my anxiety reared its ugly head to reveal that it’s been inside me all along.
The drastic shift in the world, along with all the hate spewed because of the election, is a lot to handle. I thought I was doing fine until the nightmares, obtrusive thoughts, and constant lingering dread began.
I’d describe myself as a pretty laid-back person; I don’t get worked up quickly, and I’m down for whatever plans other people make.
Except when it comes to two things: money and my relationships.
I’ve always been anxious about money, ever since I was able to start saving my own. And I’ve written at length about my anxious attachment style.
Now bundle the uncertainty of my career, the world, the election, and life as we know it in a ball that lives inside my stomach. No wonder my anxiety feels like I’ll explode at any minute.
With mental illness on the rise since March, I know I’m not alone in feeling this. I know more people need to speak up and normalize mental health. And I know it’s making people’s love lives a living hell.
So, I figured now is as good of a time as any to talk about how anxiety affects or dating lives and relationships. And give some tips on how to cope and ease yourself as well.
Dealing with the stress of modern dating.
I genuinely think you that only slightly insane people thrive at online dating, but I live in LA, so I digress. Regardless, modern dating isn't easy. And if you're not careful, it'll be one of the biggest triggers for your anxiety.
So focus on the ways you can control.
Be upfront about what you want out of dating, so people don't waste your time. List on your profile that you're looking for something serious, and don't be afraid to ask them if they're looking for the same.
While this doesn't mean you shouldn't take things slow, it does mean you weed out the people who just want to hook up and play games.
Step out of your comfort zone in baby steps.
I'm no therapist, but it's been proven that doing small things that cause you stress helps you feel better equipped for them in the future.
So that might look like reaching out to a friend who you think is cute and asking them to dinner. Or maybe it's merely talking to a stranger, so meeting people offline is a little less scary.
On the same note, know that dating might be hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Wait until you feel safe with the person to talk about your struggles.
I can't stress this enough. There's no set deadline for talking about your mental health in a new relationship. If you're unsure about someone, it's OK to wait to talk to them about your struggles.
This is a very vulnerable thing to do with someone. You want to be met with kindness and gentle words. Not a person who's going to be like, "that's all in your head" (probably the most triggering phrase ever for someone with mental health issues).
Caring less about what your date or partner thinks about you.
I don't know about you, but anxiety manifests in caring A LOT about what everyone thinks about me. When I dated in my early twenties, my only concern was whether the other person liked me.
If you're dating, focus on whether you enjoy the people you meet. If you're in a relationship, use mantras to remind yourself that you're worthy of love.
Ask questions to understand, not for reassurance.
If you feel yourself slipping into the habit of asking your partner for the fifth time today, whether they still love you, take a pause. Ask yourself why you feel the need to ask that question.
Is it to understand your partner's feelings, or are you seeking reassurance?
If it's the latter, know that getting that kind of reassurance is like taking a hit of heroin. It will only feel good at the moment but will cause more harm than good in the long-run.
Do things that help alleviate your anxiety in general.
The best way to not let your anxiety affect your love life is to not let it be your everything. Call your friends and family to talk with them. Build a support system that's not just your partner.
Prioritize the hobbies that make you happy. Move your body by going for a walk and getting some fresh air. While it's great to feel supported in a relationship, it's not fair for your partner to be your only outlet for your anxiety.
Working with a professional.
If you read all of this and thought, "Kirstie, my anxiety is too much for any of the tips to help!" then working with a professional is your best bet.
The therapists I've worked with did wonders for my mental health. Everyone can benefit from some sort of counseling and, nowadays, it's not that expensive.
Online services and community centers have affordable options for anyone. Some therapists are even willing to work at a sliding scale (lower cost).
If there’s anything that helps you manage your anxiety while dating or in a relationship that I didn’t talk about, let me know. The above is what’s helped me.
Hopefully it helps you.
Just remember that your anxiety isn’t you. It’s just something you have to figure out how to live a happy life with. You’re not broken or bad because of it.
Things will get better. You’ve got this.
Until next week my amazing readers.
All the love,
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*If you're new to this newsletter and my work, I'm currently writing on a book, What I Wish I Knew About Love, that's set to come out early 2021 with Thought Catalog Books.*
Currently aiming to have the final manuscript in by next week! The end is in sight.