By Thomas Whitfield
When we feel an uncomfortable emotion, our natural response is to try and get rid of it. Unfortunately, sometimes that means engaging in a behavior that might take the emotion away, but also create a behavioral response to the emotion that doesn’t exactly help us in the long run. Stop running from your anxiety.
I scared off another guy, yet ahhhgggain. The good news is that I have a pretty good idea what it is. When I like a guy, it’s like a chemical reaction: I go a bit overboard and want attention all the time. If a day goes by where he doesn’t text me, I have anxiety and wonder what he’s thinking, who he’s with and why he hasn’t contacted me. Inevitably, I end up texting him and then waiting for him to respond. I feel like I can’t help it when I really like someone, but it comes off as too intense. IDK how to stop! -Male, Gay, 23
It seems like you begin to have thoughts about the guy, those thoughts lead you to feel anxious, and then in order to stop that feeling you reach out to the guy. If he responds, the anxiety goes away; if he doesn’t, the anxiety gets worse. To break this cycle, you have to change your reaction to the anxiety. I recommend just waiting it out when you get anxious. It will retrain your brain to respond differently to the negative sensations. Think, “Do I have a reason to reach out to this person right now that matters, or am I just trying to make my anxiety go away?” It’ll take practice and time, but it’ll help you to stop chasing these guys away.
I don’t honestly think my boyfriend is cheating on me, but I act like he is. I sincerely want him to have his own life, his own friends and go out without me. But, whenever he does, I get crazy jealous. I constantly text him, get upset when he doesn’t respond right away, and once I even went to the bar where I knew he was and then acted like I didn’t know he’d be there. As you can guess, this has really had a negative effect on our relationship. I want to trust, but I just can’t stop myself from wanting constant reassurance when he’s out without me. How do I break this? -Male, Gay, 26
I’m glad you want your boyfriend to have his own life outside of the relationship; I think that’s really important. I’m also sure that this behavior must drive your boyfriend nuts. Pay attention to the thoughts you start having when he’s out. What are you telling yourself? Those thoughts are leading you to feel worse, and are probably irrational. You might even be telling yourself that if he were cheating, you couldn’t handle it and don’t know what you’d do. That’s a form of catastrophizing and leading you to seek reassurance from him. Force yourself not to check in on him when he goes out. You might feel like crap emotionally at first, but eventually you’ll get better at it, and it will stop bothering you so much.