Karen Fratti
Updated October 17, 2017
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

If you suffer from anxiety, it’s likely that you have some coping strategies and tricks to get you through any tough spots or situations. And when you’re dating or in a relationship, anxiety can be a total mood killer. It’s like having some huge jerk tag along with you all the time, just being mean AF and making it hard to get to know someone. There are so many ways anxiety totally messes with your love life — but there are just as many ways to manage that anxiety. Handled adeptly, it might even bring you closer to the ones you love and make life a little easier.

Anxiety is no joke.

Dating with anxiety means that you’re constantly putting yourself in situations that can trigger you, making it really hard to go out and meet someone new. If you’re already in a relationship, anxiety can kill your sex drive or drive a wedge between you and your S.O., especially if you don’t address the problem. But even if you tell your partner that you have anxiety, they might not understand *exactly* what that means if they’ve never experienced it for themselves, which is precisely why things can get tricky.

Here are some ways anxiety can mess with your love life and how to deal with them.

1You don’t follow through with things.

When you’re dating new people or just trying to go on date nights with your partner, anxiety can get in the way of Big Nights Out. Sometimes, you just have to cancel on the big social gathering or need to leave a crowed auditorium right in the middle of the concert. Tinder dating is the worst — having to walk into a new place to meet a new person just seems impossible some days.

When anxiety gets the best of you in social situations, you have every right to do whatever makes you more comfortable, but it can be hard for others to understand. Talk to your partner about sitting some social obligations out if you need to, or have a plan for scary situations. Like, sometimes asking to switch to a less crowded restaurant or something can do the trick, as is just being able to say, “I feel really anxious right now.”

2You always need to have a plan.

Spontaneous plans are not for the anxiety prone. Whether it’s a to-do list for you and your live-in boo or a new fling, having set plans is a thing most people with anxiety need. Sudden cancellations or switch-ups can be a total disaster and lead to huge fights, which is why you should fully communicate to anyone you’re dating that you need advance notice and may also come off as a total organizational freak sometimes. If they like you, they won’t mind. But it helps if they know that the protocol way ahead of time.

3You’re always overthinking things.

Whether it’s your partner’s emoji usage or sudden change in your sex life, you likely overthink basically everything. This makes dating and falling in love totally stressful instead of the blissful experience you see in movies. Meditating and remembering that you have a tendency to do this can help chill you out in the early stages of dating, but when things are more serious, it’s totally OK to tell your partner that you need a little extra validation now and again. A good partner will be happy to oblige.

4You might self-medicate.

People living with anxiety often find ways to self-medicate or even take prescribed medications for their anxiety. Self medicating with pot or alcohol can lead to lots of unhealthy behavior in your relationships, so if you think something’s up in that department, you should talk to a professional.

But even prescribed medications can be a bummer when you’re dating, especially if the side effects make you feel like crap or mess with your sex life. Again, communication about this stuff is the best way to work through it with an existing partner or a new person.

5You freak out.

To people without anxiety, your irritability or tense moods might seem to come out of the blue. But you know they’re pretty much a consistent thing. If you’re open with your partner about your triggers, you can usually diffuse the situation, or at least warn them to stay the heck out of your way when you’re losing it and to be ready with comfort food for when you’re done. Anxiety requires support, both from within and from those around you, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker.