When you’re dating someone new, it’s normal to feel nervous before seeing them.
And when you really like them, nervous excitement is to be expected.
But according to a behavioural expert, feeling nervous too far into the dating process could be a huge red flag.
“If you are overly apprehensive every time you get together with your new paramour, it might be a sign that although he or she might be a great person, perhaps not the best fit for you,” Dr Wendy L Patrick wrote in a blog post Psychology Today.
Dr Patrick concedes that getting butterflies before meeting a new potential love interest is to be expected, but, she says, as time goes on, every date shouldn’t feel like a performance where you can’t just relax and be yourself.
“In the long run, no one wants to continue participating in an activity that creates stress and discomfort,” Dr Patrick explains.
“Whether it is a dangerous sport, a speaking engagement, or a leadership role that requires taking on heavy responsibility, we are unable (and ultimately unwilling) to remain in a state of heightened anxiety and mental distress.”
Of course, wanting to make a good impression on your partner is no bad thing, but you shouldn’t be feeling on edge.
If you feel this way, it could be because the person you’re seeing makes you feel inadequate and critique yourself. And studies have shown that scrutinising yourself harshly and reacting in an extreme way to supposed flaws and failures can make you more prone to depression.
You need to find someone who makes you feel good about yourself. “Who validates and affirms who you are - not who you wish you were,” Dr Patrick explains.
“The key is to learn to recognise the difference between infatuation and attachment.”
Researchers have found that although the two are not mutually exclusive, only infatuation creates negative feelings, such as nervousness, anxiety and insecurity.
Secure attachment, on the other hand, diminishes negative feelings.
“While the authors [of the study] recognise that infatuation is associated with a higher level of arousal and euphoria, it is apparently a double-edged sword,” Dr Patrick notes.
So what can you do?
The trick is staying in touch with your own feelings.
“This will allow you to select a partner who makes you feel self-assured, not insecure,” Dr Patrick explains. “Experiencing relational security, in turn, predicts relational stability, and ultimately success.”