Q. Hello! I am a listener of the podcast — a 28-year-old woman who lives in California. I have spent much of my 20s living my own life, traveling, working various jobs, meeting new people, etc. Even if I could go back in time I would do this all the same; it has made me a well-rounded person.
During these times I always dated but was never serious about it. My last relationship was about two years ago. The end traumatized me a bit because he switched from being this seemingly perfect man to a very nasty person (at least toward me). Now I seem to have dating anxiety. It’s always been easy for me to date and have fun, but now that I feel I’m actually looking for someone (in the midst of a horrible pandemic, healing past traumas, and while I reach my late 20s), my anxieties around dating apps are so high that I’m struggling.
Although I look forward to meeting my person, I also feel close to panic-attack mode whenever my dating app dings a reminder on my phone. It almost feels like everything is going wrong and I am just looking for that perfect man to face the end of the world with (mostly a joke). This is so odd and new to me. Any advice for someone struggling with such anxieties?
A. If the dings bother you, get rid of the them. Change your notifications. Make a plan to check the apps at the same hour every day. I happen to think a nice time is right after dinner.
If you match with someone who makes it past the kind of talk you want to do on apps, switch to text. That will feel different.
I get it, by the way. The only alerts on my phone right now are food-related. I love you Globe and Boston.com, but I’ve had to get rid of the news alerts for a while. My brain does better when I decide when I’m ready to consume information.
It also sounds like you might be feeling some pressure to balance your last experience with an ideal partner, and that’s not fair to them or you. Your next try might be with someone who’s good for a few walks and that’s it. Maybe you’re three or more people away from finding a better match.
The point is, your next romantic move feels too significant. Please lower the stakes. Remember that these days, you can take many more steps to get to a place of seriousness. There can be FaceTime dates. Picnics. You will have plenty of time to figure out whether someone deserves your investment.
Sounds like there is much more going on here than just disappointment in finding a compatible date. It may be time to talk with someone about what is really go on with you and your life.
Why would you continue to use apps that cause anxiety? Delete and plan to meet people “in person” in about nine months, when the pandemic begins to wane. In the meantime, have fun with friends, family, pets, and free time for hobbies.
^Agreed. Haven’t logged into Plenty of Fish since mid-March, when the pandemic was announced.
I recommend doing things that are relaxing for you and don’t involve news/notifications/noise. Go for a walk. Meditate. Take a break from looking for your person (agree with Meredith that you should lower your expectations a lot) and just try to feel better in general. Good luck.
Why don’t you just go out and look for fun like you used to? What, really, has changed except that it’s a little tougher these days for everyone? You’re not being singled-out as a result of the pandemic, I swear. The only difference I can see is that now you want to date with a relationship in mind, rather than for carefree dalliances. Pro tip: both kinds start exactly the same way.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.