New relationship anxiety?

I(F26) started recently dating a guy who I have been friends with for like 6 years. It took me lots of courage to tell him I like him and I got overjoyed when he told me he feels the same but also pretty soon after I got hit with a wave of anxiety and regret. I started crying out of nowhere during the day but couldn’t figure out why I was feeling that way.

I have never had a relationship before so everything is completely new to me. The guy visited my place for a few days and it was fine and we could communicate and he is very caring and understanding. Still, I feel a bit weirded out by all this and overwhelmed at times.

He wants lots of cuddling and touching and is very sweet, telling me how cute I am and how good he feels to be close to me and all that but I have a bit hard time with all this sudden affection. I have very low self esteem and I’ve had problems with eating disorder(EDNOS), mild OCD, depression and general anxiety disorder. I have very hard time accepting compliments in general or feeling good about myself. I’m also very bad at adjusting new things, good or bad. Lot of stuff has happened to me during recent years, I’ve moved almost every year for a long time, my future has been uncertain all the time and full of ups and then some severe downs and now I am in the moment where during the last two months I’ve been starting to finally feel a bit more settled and certain. Also in my childhood I had to move from parent to parent after their divorce in every week so I know that I crave something safe and stable. That is also something that probably therapy would help a lot but that is not an option for me rn due to money and long ques.

I feel really strange and conflicted. I like him a lot and we have lot in common but expressing myself or my emotions are really hard. I have never been good at understanding love or dating as a concept and phrasing what I’m feeling makes me really anxious since often I’m not sure how to do it. I feel like I often can’t even tell how I’m feeling and what I want in a moment. He told me he is very loving and wants to express it to me and make me feel nice but is not sure if I like that and how he should do it and I honestly can’t give him a proper answer because I don’t know. When we were cuddling and stuff he often asked me how am I feeling or what am I thinking and I could only answer “I don’t know” which has for the longest time been my go-to answer to everything I’m not sure about but feel like I need to just answer something fast.

We also share the same friend group that has been together for a long time and I have a best friend I’ve known for 12 years in the same friend group and I kinda know that no one can really took that place of how important he is to me (we have never dated or ever wanted with him so just friends) so it also feels very weird to me.

This is a long text so thanks for anyone who was patient enough to read it through. I don’t really know what to do rn or how to understand my own emotions and feelings because some days I feel really good and then overwhelmed and lowkey anxious again and just in general, lost.


i’ve found the blog “heirloom counseling” to be a useful resource for learning about attachment.

i hate that access to therapy is such challenge and i hope it becomes available to you soon.

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First of all, @Coco, welcome to the HowToADHD forums!

It’s not uncommon to feel anxious in a new relationship. It’s actually a very normal feeling, mixed with all the other ones that you feel, such as excitement and anticipation. The anxiety that you feel can have both positive and negative effects. The negative effects are plain to see, from mild nervousness on up to full-blown panic. So then, how can anxiety be positive? According to some relationship experts I follow, it intensifies the early feelings of attraction (not physical attraction, but emotional attraction) of one person for the other. It’s like turning up the volume on a stereo, so that you can hear the music better.

Having ADHD adds a complication to the mix, since any of us ADHD “Brains” are very sensitive and have heightened emotions. Many people with ADHD also experience the state known as rejection sensitive dysphoria, or RSD, in which any perceived sign of rejection can cause the person to react very strongly on a negative way.

Having ADHD does not mean that you will experience RSD. I do not, although I am sensitive to rejection I do not become outwardly reactive to it, but instead I tend am prone to withdraw into myself, dampening my outward emotion (partly out of a fear of how others will respond if I acted out, but mostly because it’s my norm to internalize my emotions).

I have only been in one dating relationship, so I’m far from an expert on that. I married the only girl I ever dated, who I fell in love with at 15 and married at 26. She recently divorced me before my 47th birthday. So I can’t give a lot of dating advice other than to try to be your best self, not pretending, but you’re genuine self. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. I have learned the hard, painful lesson that it does not help for one or both of the people in a couple to be hiding things from each other.

So, I hope that you are being honest with him that you do feel anxious, what you do feel uncertainty about, and that you are not yet as comfortable as he is with cuddling or similar displays of affection.

On that note, people (especially men) who are comfortable cuddling from the start may simply be very secure in themselves.

Being a man, I understand other men much better than I understand women.
• Some men do like to touch and cuddle, from a little bit to a lot, while some really don’t.
• Some men have to ease in to a relationship to feel comfortable with touching and cuddling. (Me, for one.)
• Unfortunately, there are also some selfish men who use women to serve their own interests, and some of them will use displays of affection and cuddling as manipulation tools. (I’m convinced they are much in the minority, maybe 10% of men at the most.)
• And one special case, when someone is overcome by their feelings, they can do something that’s come to be known as “love-bombing”, impulsively displaying affection because they are madly in love with the object of their affections. (Even more in the minority, less than 5% of men, I think.)

So, if this man you are now in a relationship with is secure, then it’s a very good chance (in my opinion as a man) that his affections are healthy (for him).

It’s important that you be aware of how you feel. Don’t discount yourself in any way. Your feelings are important feedback for you, just like your external senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) inform you about the environment you are in. Accept your feelings, which are there to help you, to try to keep you safe and try to help you enjoy the best parts of your life.
• If something feels wrong, ask yourself how and why. Intuition can pick up on things that your conscious mind misses.
• If you find yourself ruminating (i.e. dwelling in thought) on unfounded fears, feelings of inadequacies, or feeling like an imposter, I suggest that you challenge those thoughts with the opposite… because you are a person who is worthy of good things in life, of enjoying yourself with someone else, of finding love and the rewards it brings, the blessings of giving of yourself and receiving from someone else in kind.

Love is a wonderful thing, and it is totally worth taking a chance on.

(Disclaimer: This advice comes to you from someone who had recent martial issues and is now divorced. But before that, my ex-wife and I had a very good relationship for most of our 20 years together, and we’re still on good terms.)

There are no guarantees in love or in life. But if you don’t accept that there’s some risk, you won’t be open to the joyful experiences that come with having a good romantic relationship.

I encourage you to be as brave as you wanna be! Try not to be too foolish, but don’t shut yourself out to the possibility of love. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t give in to anything that you don’t feel ready for. Your heart is a treasure, and your needs are important.

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Hi Coco,

a belated welcome to the forum. You already received good advice.

My question would be, do you feel you can tell him about your anxiety and that it is YOURS and has nothing to do with him (besides the fact that he is your partner and you like him).

In the past I have been overwhelmed by feelings. And felt lost as you described. In order to overcome my anxiety I withdrew, pulled back, got impolite and told myself I couldn’t trust (it is just about sex, or someone is trapped in this romantic courtship thing and as soon as I would feel secure the other side would disappear, or similar stuff) in other words I messed up a lot of good chances and hurt or surprised people, by telling them I was not interested. Just because things were going “to intense” for me.
I ended up choosing a person who is not good in showing emotions and who is not good in initiating close contact. Over the years I sometimes hoped he would grew into this a little more. :slight_smile:

What I want to say after some “experience” - you don’t have to be ashamed- a lot of us have similar feelings. I sometimes feel I should be able to turn down the volume or speed of things happening because I need longer “to digest” - Somehow I have the feeling, that a person who likes you and is told such a similar thing (as a way who you process things) can’t be disappointed but should be understanding. What do you feel?