Dating as a teenager or college student probably felt like an emotional rollercoaster. You were falling in love for the first time, getting your heart broken, and learning what you really wanted in a partner. Maybe you imagined that as you grew up, dating would get easier. Perhaps you felt like you would feel more confident dating in your adult years, and that it would be easier to find the right person for you.
Dating as an adult doesn’t always bring the dramatic emotional turmoil of the teenage years. But it can introduce plenty of new challenges. In fact, you might deal with lots of anxiety around dating in your adult years. Here’s why dating in adulthood can be so anxiety-inducing.
Simply put, the stakes are higher when you’re dating as an adult compared to dating as a teenager or in your early twenties. Chances are, you’re looking for someone who you can share your entire life with. You’re not just interested in a casual fling or a fleeting romance. This means that you’re looking at each potential partner with a more critical eye. You’re wondering if this is someone who you could see yourself with decades from now.
What if you’re not interested in getting married, having children, or finding a long-term partner? You may not be envisioning dating as a high-stakes scenario – instead, you might be dealing with social pressure to settle down. This can come from family, friends, and the people who you end up on dates with. You may struggle to find someone who is aligned with your mindset at an age when it sometimes seems like everyone is looking for marriage.
As an adult, you’ve probably been in a few relationships that went south. If you’ve had bad experiences with previous partners, you might be hesitant to open yourself up to someone new. Allowing yourself to let your guard down and be vulnerable with a new partner is harder now than it was when you were young. In adulthood, you know that your partner might not turn out to be the person you had hoped. When you’re dealing with the scars of past relationships, you may feel scared to trust someone else.
Changing Romantic Landscape
When you were young, you probably met everyone you dated in person. Maybe you met them at school, at your first part-time job, or through extracurriculars. As you got older, you might have experimented with dating apps. Today, it can feel like almost everyone is meeting through an app. And if using dating apps still feels a little awkward to you, you might be wondering if you’ll ever meet that special someone. You may feel like some of your previous experiences didn’t prepare you for the process of meeting and dating people you connect with through apps.
You don’t want to waste your time with someone who isn’t right for you. You don’t want to waste anyone else’s time, either. This can lead to intense scrutinizing. You might end up weighing every little detail you notice about your date and overanalyzing their every word. Simultaneously, you might be scrutinizing yourself, too. If you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to find “the one,” you may be trying to put forth a perfect picture. When you get home from a date, you might replay every word that you said in your head, hoping you made a good impression.
Are you struggling with anxiety around dating? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.