When we’re dating it can be a nerve-racking time. Is it a red flag if I feel anxious? Is my instinct telling me to step away from this relationship?

The question we can ask ourselves: Is this my attachment?

If we are anxiously or avoidantly attached, anxiety is going to be part of our story and scripts when it comes to relationships. Because relationships are complicated and they have been difficult for us, we can be accustomed to feeling yearning, or suffocated, or it’s not enough, or it’s too much. Sadly, we’ve learnt relationships are generally fraught to some degree.

Then when we meet someone, go through the phase of getting to know them and then discover we really fancy them, that can be perceived by our nervous systems as a threat. It’s a threat to our safety, our wellbeing – our nice little world where we only have ourselves to worry about - suddenly we are emotionally invested in someone else. Someone else liking us, someone else being attracted to us and, crucially, someone else choosing us.

That is scary. We feel out of control, this other person can impact us – whether they like us, whether they text back quick enough – they have power over us. And if we have attachment trauma this will bring anxiety (which is a perceived lack of control) tenfold.

This anxiety has to be tolerated at the beginning. Because it can be sabotaging otherwise. For some of us, sometimes the anxiety is too much and we walk away before fully exploring if this person is genuinely right for us.

So I suggest accepting we will feel anxious and doing all we can to emotionally regulate ourselves through it.

Also notice your thoughts, because your scripts will come out. Because of the vulnerability of this period of a relationship, the fears, assumptions, interpretations you make will reveal so much about how you relate. For example: Your patterns of “not good enough”, being angry, feeling disappointed can all come out.

When you're feeling anxious, do the following 5 steps:

1. Notice your emotions
2. Figure out what they’re about
3. Recognise your scripts
4. Self-soothe
5. Then respond/act with composure

In doing this exercise we can see where our hurt, confidence, hope, bitterness or cynicism comes out in our thinking and behaviour, and choose how we want to behave and proceed.

We can also bring in our reparenting skills to help us through the agony and ecstasy of this time.

We can focus on not acting out on our anxiety, question and understand our thoughts and behaviour, rightsize our fears, calm and soothe ourselves, and keep a handle on our cynicism so we can turn up in the most calm, hopeful, optimistic way we can.

This is how we can develop more security into how we relate.

Why Do I Feel Nervous/Anxious When I Fancy Someone?

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