Feeling Anxiety About Dating? Here’s Why That’s Normal

anxiety at the beginning of a relationship

Whether you’re in a new relationship, or wanting to find one, it can be easy to feel anxiety about dating even as the common wisdom is that you are supposed to be having fun and basking in the glow of new love and euphoric feelings. Yet, feeling anxiety about dating, and even at the beginning of a relationship, is completely normal.

Why is that?

Anxiety about dating climbs when you are out of the habit of socializing

For starters, since the start of the pandemic, most of us are out of the habit of socializing in general. Sure, we’ve been on Zooms with friends, and even braved extending our safety “bubble” to see good friends. But getting back to socializing, meeting new people, being in crowds, is an experience we’ve spent the last two years fearing for good reason.

Despite vaccines, milder variants, and safety procedures in place, you may still feel anxiety about getting out there. And this can be normal too. After all, you haven’t been doing it much over the last two+ years. Know that you are not alone, and we are all a bit “rusty” when it comes to socializing, and understanding what the new normal should be.

The most important thing is to make sure not to confuse being out of the habit, with it being unsafe. Meeting someone new rehires you to get out there, and be willing to meet someone you don’t know. The trick is to decide what safety measures are critical to your health (mutual vaccine, outdoor venues, etc) and choose courage. That means, ditching the discomfort in the service of something more important, meeting new people.

Anxiety helps us protect what matters most to us.

We worry because we care, and as deeply social beings (yes, even introverts), few things matter to us more than our relationships.  We are drawn powerfully to love, and yearn to feel the deep connection love brings.

It makes sense, then, that a wonderful new relationship would fulfill your need for love and connection. And it makes sense that you would care deeply about your relationship, too.

When you are newly in love, you naturally want to protect the love you have found and keep it safe. And, because you care about the relationship, it’s natural to feel anxious when something feels different or poses a perceived threat to the relationship.

This is especially so if you are prone to worry, or your partner does not consistently communicate clearly.

Navigating new situations.

Feeling worried about your new relationship could simply be a reflection of you – the thoughts and concerns you bring to every relationship.

One way that anxiety at the beginning of a relationship can appear is through your perception of connectedness. Either you don’t feel as connected as you did, or you feel less connected than you want to feel.

This feeling of being disconnected can trigger worry because your connection is so important to you and your wellbeing.

Naturally, you want to maintain your relationship in its idyllic state. In fact, you are highly motivated to maintain it by the powerful rewards that love brings.

Anxiety can signal familiar dynamics that deserve our attention.

Another way in which you may find yourself feeling anxious about your new relationship is by comparing it to a previous one.

What you need to know about this type of worry is that, although it is completely normal, it’s not the easiest to get a handle on. Without a doubt, you should compare this relationship to previous ones. But you should do so only to understand what went wrong in them so that you will learn how not to repeat mistakes.

When you are crystal clear about what happened and what part you played in it, you will be able to identify what you do not want to repeat. You will also be able to make better choices for moving forward with your new relationship.

When you find yourself comparing your new relationship to an old one, know that this is just another case of your anxiety working for you. It is trying to alert you to painful situations of the past that are re-emerging. Listen to this message.

If there are similarities, ask yourself honestly if moving forward is safe, or if similar dangerous dynamics are at play.

But if you see that this new relationship is actually different, it will be easier for you to relax and truly enjoy being in love.

Making comparisons is what we do. It’s a large part of how we learn. So don’t be afraid to make comparisons in your new relationship. You may save yourself from hurt and heartbreak. You may discover even more reasons to be completely in love.

Motivating and protecting connection.

The good news is worry can help you to resolve the disconnect by motivating you to strive to re-establish the connection – even if you can’t sustain it at that new-love intensity over the long-term.

We all know the euphoria of new love can’t last forever. You may even anticipate a time when you might not feel as connected with your partner as you currently do, wondering if it can last. And this is a valid reason for feeling anxiety about dating.

Your connection can feel so good that you begin to care about losing it. And this worry can motivate you to work with your partner to create a meaningful, lasting connection.

Connection requires vulnerability, and vulnerability requires courage

Brene Brown deftly writes, “Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of our courage.” Anyone who has been in love knows how incredibly uncomfortable it can be to allow yourself to be fully in your relationship – despite the joy it brings – when you know you might wind up being hurt or rejected.

Yet, being in love takes courage. Only by allowing yourself to be courageously vulnerable do the deepest and longest lasting connections have a chance of being forged.

Your new relationship is exactly what you need in your life right now. It’s the opportunity to fulfill the draw for love and connection that we all have. It’s also offering you the amazing opportunity to learn more about yourself.

Keep in mind that feeling anxiety about dating or at the beginning of a relationship is without a doubt completely normal. Relationships are one of the most important things in life. It’s natural to care deeply about them and want them to work.

And when you care deeply about something and someone, it’s hard to imagine not feeling anxious from time to time. Even more so when it comes to new love.


For more help with managing relationship anxiety, check out my new book, Hack Your Anxiety, register for my free mini-ecourse by signing up for book bonuses here, or check-out my anxiety and relationships blogs.  

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD


  1. Stephanie M on February 12, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Thank you for eloquently writing this so well. It made me feel normal for my feelings. And to realize anxiety is in fact in play

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on February 15, 2020 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for your comment, and so glad it was a help.

  2. Paul on June 14, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    Some very familiar points here. It tends to take me quite a long time to completely let my defences down and to be able to truly relax into a new relationship, but when I do I end up being able to completely share my truest self which is an amazing feeling!

    I feel the most helpful thing is to remember that these feelings and fears are just a part of how I process new relationships and to allow the relationship to naturally take its course, rather than letting stress and anxiety build up unnecessarily .

    A very helpful post, thanks Alicia.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 18, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Paul. Very well said, indeed. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Sergio Monge on June 28, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Reading this made remember this Silvio’s Rodriguez song, in particular this part:
    Los amores cobardes no llegan a amores,
    Ni a historias, se quedan allí.
    Rough translation:
    The coward love don’t make it to love,
    Nor to stories, they stay there…

    Thank you, it helped me to build courage on a very early relationship which is moving me deeply.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 30, 2020 at 11:21 pm

      Thanks Sergio for your moving poem. Very beautiful.

  4. Steven Siry on July 11, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    It’s as if you wrote this article just for me. I have always felt anxiety at the beginning of a relationship and don’t even understand why? However, when you write that it is perfectly and happens to all people it greatly ameliorates some of my feelings and inspires me to move forward and learn more about oneself through the interaction with a significant other. Thank You!

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 11, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to write. So glad you found it helpful, and inspiring to keep at it even if it’s uncomfortable sometimes!