Dating can be fun, exhilarating, and full of unpredictability. It’s this unpredictability that can tip the scales and trigger dating anxiety. While some measure of anxiety is part of the excitement (meeting someone who makes your heartbeat race), too much anxiety can leave you feeling fearful about meeting and finding a partner.
Fears of rejection, or obsessing about what to do next can make dating feel painful instead of pleasurable. People can develop a high degree of self-doubt and worry that they will behave in unattractive or socially awkward ways. All of this anxiety can contribute to a sense of hopelessness about discovering the love you want and finding the partner who is the right fit for you.
I will help you develop a sense of your dating approach and the way you experience the love and attraction phase. You will explore what you find attractive in the dating process and what creates anxiety. You will learn practices to help you overcome social anxiety allowing you to approach and talk to people you are interested in dating. I will help you with cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge habitual, self-doubting thoughts. You will develop practices that enhance a sense of self -value promoting a sense of choice while dating. We will discuss pacing relationships to help you discern what kind of relationship you want and what you are eventually looking for in a long-term committed relationship.
How I can help with dating anxiety
People who experience commitment ambivalence may long for intimacy and a long-term relationship but push away partners out of fear. Some people avoid the emotional entanglements of long-term relationships out of a belief that they will lose their autonomy. Others may experience a string of intense or passionate relationships with no real sense of why the last relationship ended before the next began. While some may casually date or engage “friends with benefits” relationships but find it unfulfilling. Some date with the intention of beginning a relationship and take the leap but eventually “fadeaway” or end up “ghosting”. Then there are some who take the leap into a long-term relationship but slowly withdraw over time while remaining in the couple but without a true sense of close emotional connection.
Usually commitment ambivalence stems from a deep fear of trusting another person. You may fear that the person will not love you once they really get to know you, that they will abandon you, or that they will never truly understand who you are. Without a sense of trust, a lasting and intimate bond can be elusive.
How I can help with commitment ambivalence
One way of understanding commitment ambivalence is through the lens of attachment insecurity. Some people may experience fearful-avoidant patterns of relating (“I want a relationship, but I’m afraid of getting hurt.”), others may behave in a dismissive-avoidant style (“I do not need you, nor do I need you to depend on me.”), and some may attach in a preoccupied-anxious manner (“I really want to be close to you, but I do not believe you want to be close to me.”). Attachment insecurity usually develops in childhood when people experience chronic unpredictable or unreliable caretaking. This lost opportunity to establish a secure attachment in childhood can play out in the intimate bonds created in adulthood.
I will help you assess what sort of attachment styles you tend to engage most often. We will explore how your style works for you and how it creates barriers toward your relationship goals. Once we develop an understanding of what motivates your attachment behavior, we will incorporate mindfulness based strategies to help you soothe anxiety associated with forming close relationship bonds. Through a psychodynamic, interpersonal approach, you will practice skills in accepting and offering empathic listening. I will help you identify the needs you have in relationships and practice ways to request your needs be met adequately. You will learn to challenge old belief patterns about your ability to love and be loved in a healthy, accepting relationship. Working in this way has the potential to benefit all of your relationships whether they be work or friendship, family, or intimate relationships. You will be able to experience relationships on more secure footing and experience more freedom of choice.
Relationship Conflict & Insecure Attachment
Sometimes couples get caught in a loop of conflict in which partners just can’t seem to understand each other’s perspective. Couples may experience chronic bickering, blaming or attacking each other, constantly triggering each other, or they may distance and disconnect, stop speaking and laughing, eventually feeling alone and hopeless. The common thread is that these couples no longer feel a safe, loving, and enjoyable connection with their partner. Once caught in the cycle, couples tend to have repetitive arguments in which both partners seek to be heard rather than trying to listen. One or both partners might always need to be right at the cost of missing an opportunity to understand each other. Some couples avoid difficult conversations all together, furthering the gap in connection. Eventually this cycle can move toward resentment and possibly separation.
I help couples restore the strength and connection they once had, rebuilding trust and intimacy to create a secure and nurturing relationship. Couples learn the subtle ways they may trigger their partners into anxiety states. I help them recognize when their partners become activated so that they can use skills that are more responsive to the anxiety rather than acting it out in patterns of fight or flight. We practice empathic listening, down regulation, and relationship repair skills. I help you identify resolvable conflicts and how to understand and manage irresolvable conflicts. You will develop a practice of friendship behaviors with your partner which will provide a foundation for your connection as lovers and romantic partners.
How I can help with relationship conflict & insecure attachment
Relationships & Loss
When we take the risk to love, we also take on the risk of loss. Even the happiest of lifelong relationships will be confronted with eventual loss. There are times when a relationship ends prematurely. Whether you have experienced an unwanted break-up or a long and hurtful divorce, the loss of a relationship can feel as painful as the death of a loved one. Not only do people experience the loss of the relationship itself, but the loss of the hopes and dreams inspired by that relationship. People may feel powerless, experience a blow to their self-esteem and develop depression. Another form of loss that can take shape in relationships is the development of the fear of abandonment. This fear of abandonment can lead people to put up barriers to avoid future relationships out of self-protection. Unresolved grief can leave you feeling lost and lonely.
The loss of a relationship merits a thoughtful and heartfelt goodbye. I will help you express your feelings and mourn the loss of your significant other. I will help you work through any lingering feelings you may have. You will learn about the stages of grieving and build a self-care practice that supports and strengthens you as you grieve. You will learn ways to challenge beliefs or fears that you will be alone. Through insight-oriented work, you will develop an understanding of the memories connected to abandonment fears. You will discover ways to enrich your life as you move forward independently and how to invite others into your life in a meaningful way as you heal.