I hope that this post is the first in a series of posts on dating and anxiety. Whether it is or not will, of course, depend on whether I ever start dating. Yet while I have yet to start dating, I can write on the fear of asking someone out.
The fear of asking someone out is one of my biggest fears to this day. It extends to the dance floor (I have difficulty initiating dances) and to the Internet (messaging someone on a dating site is immensely terrifying despite the fact that we’re all there for the same reason). J.K. Rowling captures this fear quite accurately in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry Potter faces the challenge of finding a date for the Yule Ball. Harry tells Ron that he’d much rather go another round with the Hungarian Horntail, one of the fiercest dragons, then ask a woman out. When other authors write of Jedi, Starfleet officers, wizards, knights, dragonriders, etc. who can face armies, dark powers, challenges and crises just fine, but who are filled with immense fear when it comes to romance, I can’t help but relate. Though my dealing with crisis situations of all sorts is probably less than these characters the scale of comparison is certainly accurate–facing a Dark Jedi in combat seems far easier than asking a woman out.
Pop culture is filled with challenges to this, challenges I’ve heard echoed by friends and family. “Everybody hates it, but you’ve just got to do it.” “Live in the moment, don’t worry about regret.” “Try asking people out who aren’t friends so you’re not burned when they say no”. All of these sentiments, and more have been expressed. I even agree to an extent–anybody with an ounce of sense will realize that you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take and the law of averages says that if you make enough attempts, you’ll eventually succeed.
Yet I find myself highly resistant to these sentiments, and I don’t think it’s entirely because of my anxiety disorder. I think I should feel afraid of asking someone out–after all, anybody I’d date would quickly become a central part of my life if they didn’t run away screaming after the first couple of dates. Maybe some people can do casual dating, just go out for the experience of it and a bit of fun, but I don’t think that’s me–my disabilities and challenges aren’t exactly conducive to that sort of thing, and I don’t see a lot of point in it. If I’m going to date someone, I’d rather it be because I feel some actual attraction to them, and want to see whether things can go further. I also don’t think I need a lot of relationships, I’d rather one or two relationships that actually work out than a hundred relationships with only a handful being meaningful.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not opposed to going on a date with someone from a dating site, or even having sex with someone whose merely a friend. Both I could see within the realm of possibility. But I desire something more than that, I desire true love, and real, committed connection. And, in all reality, I think my personality and make-up is more inclined to that in any case.
So where does that leave me? Definitely still hindered in initiating romance–yet there is hope. While the number of times I have asked someone out, initiated a conversation on a dating site, or initiated a dance I can count on one hand for each, I HAVE done all of those. I also am quite open to the woman initiating such if she is more confident, and once the initiation is made, I’m often far better at keeping things going. So I feel strongly that once initiation is out of the way, my chances of something working out go a lot higher.