Panic (Not at the Disco)

I can occasionally be a pretty nervous person. If a friend sits me down and says he or she wants to have a serious talk with me, then I get nervous; same thing with going out on job interviews. But one of the things that scares me the most is the possibility of dating, which is problematic for me, since I would like, at some point, to have a girlfriend – if not something more serious.

My ability to even really consider a romantic relationship has been messed up for a long time, and I’m not sure you could say I have ever had a girlfriend. And yes, I’m 33, which makes me worryingly close to a Steve Carrell movie. My problem is that I want to get to know someone before I ask them out, and that can be awkward, because by the time I feel comfortable enough with someone to ask them out, I am likely to have been ruled out by the woman as a romantic interest. While I can always use more friends, when I am trying to be more than friends this can be frustrating, and terrifying.

I recently told someone, a close friend, that I have feelings for her. I basically expected her to say that she didn’t feel the same, and my guess was correct, though she was very compassionate about it. The build-up to my saying anything, and the realization that I had those feeling, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I was, apparently, having a pretty heavy-duty panic attack (I had to look up the symptoms), which subsided after getting what I had to say off my chest, even with the expected disappointment.

Because I have mentioned my lack of experience, and my concern about it, the program director here at the step-down has decided to try and find some things for me to do about it. Unfortunately for me, the first thing on her list is speed dating, which, to be frank, scares the crap out of me. Even as I write this, I’m having a low-grade panic attack at the thought; having to meet so many new people, all of them women, and then trying to make a good impression so many times in just a couple hours is a huge obstacle for me. It hits me in a number of weak spots at once, and I would really prefer to start more slowly.

Now, I know that my body is just reacting to my mind; if I can get my mind off of the idea of speed dating, or the idea that I am committed to it, these feelings of dizziness and heart palpitations will go away. But that, right now, seems like being told not to think of a pink elephant. I’m watching TV, talking to a friend, and writing this, and none of them seem to be doing anything to mitigate the symptoms.

So right now, I am not having a very good time. I don’t really know what to do about it, though, so I guess I am stuck with it until either my mind or body decides to move on to something else. If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with panic attacks, I’d be mighty obliged.


2 comments on “Panic (Not at the Disco)

  1. AV says:

    As a great man once wrote in big, friendly letters, “Don’t Panic.” Also, bring a towel.

    So, what would your SuperBetter hero do? You know the villain; what power up will help you defeat it? Is it time to belt out a Rock Band song? Maybe a walk around the block? You’ve been developing a great tool box to help you with situations like this. The short-term solution might just be in there.

    You’ve got this, and we have your back!

  2. Alicia says:

    Just tell her that is not something you are interested in doing…she can’t make you…sound like it would just add to your anxiety about dating and not really fix things

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