The Tyranny of Chill

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I've been married for 8 years, but that doesn't mean that I'm not acutely aware of the struggles of my friends who are still swiping left and right. Dating with anxiety can be a particular form of hell. You need to be at your best to meet someone, but sometimes the thing that sets you off is the "getting to know you" situations. Or the "am I allowed to put down my armor now" question. It's hard not to use bracing battlefield analogies when talking about anxiety and dating.

I don't think it's a coincidence that I met my husband when my GAD was at all all-time low. At the time, I didn't even know there was such a thing as GAD. But lately I've been reading some writers who make me think that knowing who you are, understanding and embracing it, will be the healthy future for the highly sensitive (which is what anxiety really is). It gives me a lot of comfort and a feeling of safety to know that there are whip smart women who understand themselves and not backing down in their dating lives. By the time she's 26, whether she chooses to date men or women, my 6-year-old daughter will have a lot of role models for finding her own voice.

One of my favorite pieces from recent history is Against Chill by Alana Massey. It's a piece I would have read again and again if I were dating now.

To the uninitiated, having Chill and being cool are synonyms. They describe a person with a laid-back attitude, an absence of neurosis, and reasonably interesting tastes and passions. But the person with Chill is crucially missing these last ingredients because they are too far removed from anything that looks like intensity to have passions. They have discernible tastes and beliefs but they are unlikely to materialize as passionate. Passion is polarizing; being enthusiastic or worked up is downright obsessive.

AH! I would have said. The crazy thing that makes me care so much, get so involved...that makes me ME, is the thing that makes me uncool. Call it anxiety, call it my passion. If I reveal it, it's what makes me less dateable. And then I would have read the piece again. Because I would need to hear that's OK. Those aren't the guys I want to be hanging out with anyway.

This is such important writing for people with anxiety. This is how we learn from our anxiety. I hope it brings you as much reassurance as it does me.