May 25, 2024
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How Do I Deal With My Dating Partner’s Anxiety?

Dear Dr. Chani,

I really need your help with my relationship. I have been dating someone for three months. I think we have good chemistry, and I am looking forward to things working out. But I am not sure how the girl I am dating sees it. She constantly expresses her hesitations and doubt. She tells me she feels unsure about what our future is like and does not feel comfortable committing.

We have discussed this many times. I have explained to her how unsettling her outlook is for me. What is difficult for me to understand is that she explains that her feelings are the result of Corona. She told me many times that she used to be more positive, confident and certain about herself and her life. But during the weeks between Purim and Pesach she became so scared about the future and uncertain about life that it affected her ability to be grounded.

She feels that she has not been able to feel comfortable planning with certainty or to be confident about her decisions. She has asked me to bear with her and ride out the waves of uncertainty with her.

She claims it will end soon. I am not sure what to do. I really like her and think things can work out. But I cannot deal with her uncertainty. I do not even know what will happen if I stick around.

I feel stuck and unsure what to do.

What do you think?

Sincerely,

Stuck

Dear Stuck,

Your question is a great one. It sounds like you are excited about the girl you are dating and you want your relationship to work out. Yet she is not ready to commit. What is really confusing you is that she explains that her uncertainty is affected by her experiences during the Coronavirus. You are not sure what to think.

Right now, it is not necessary for you to figure out whether or not her anxiety stems from the uncertainty around the coronavirus. What matters is that she is demonstrating anxiety about her life, and specific anxiety about your relationship. It is hard for you to imagine continuing in a relationship where your relationship itself is questioned, even if it is a result of the current world situation. Yet, since you sense that there is a lot of positive in your relationship, it is worthwhile to invest time and effort to help her understand the nature of her anxiety and what it means for your possible future together.

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem faced today. It also has one of the best response rates to proper treatment. It can help both of you if she goes for a consultation with a psychotherapist to help with her anxiety. There can be many reasons for her anxiety, some of which may be rooted in your relationship, and others that have nothing at all to do with you and your relationship. A psychotherapist can help her get the clarity she needs and to communicate her feelings in a way that helps you get the clarity you need as well.

In the meantime, what can you do to understand and possibly reduce her anxiety? First and foremost, it is important for you and the girl you are dating to take a close look at your relationship. Sometimes one or both partners in a relationship can feel a sense of uncertainty or anxiety, and not be willing to admit that the anxiety is about the relationship, per se. Instead, a person may say, “I don’t know why, but I’m just not feeling it.” Or a person may attribute it to external events because it can be easier than questioning the relationship itself. Open the door to more specific conversations with the girl you are dating about how she feels about you or your relationship.

A great key strategy to strengthen your relationship and help you both feel more secure is to understand some of the things that you like about one another. This indicates that your relationship is based on thought-out, meaningful and mutual appreciation for each other instead of just fun, “feel-good” experiences.

Ask yourself these questions: “If someone were to ask the girl I am dating what I like about her, what would she say? Have I expressed to her the specific things I like about her?” Likewise, in the opposite direction, “If I were to ask her what she likes about me, what do I think she would say? Are there concrete, positive things that she has verbalized about me and our relationship?”

If you can confidently give a list of specific things that you have shared with each other about why you like each other, you have a great foundation for your relationship. Yet, if the first thing that comes to mind is “Ummm…,” and you find it hard to recall concrete compliments that you have expressed to each other, you have a ways to go in your relationship. Even though there is a lot of general positivity, your relationship needs to be further developed before you can determine your future together.

Keep in mind that even though your relationship is three months old on the calendar, it may be still in its infancy. If you feel there is potential here, it is wise to allow yourself and the girl you are dating the time to deepen your relationship, and to allow her to explore the nature of her anxiety until you both get the clarity you need.

Wishing you get clarity soon,

Chani


Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach, specializing in teaching emotional-connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples, teaches courses on how to become a master of relationships and provides free relationship resources at chanimaybruch.com. Learn a step-by-step method to improve your ability to emotionally connect with her new online course: The RELATE Technique™—Seven Steps to Emotionally Connect Through Conversation. Reach out to her at [email protected].

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