best friends

Do You Have Friendship Anxiety?

Do you have friendship anxiety?  When you start a new relationship does it lead to massive anxiety?  If you’re like me, new friendships are incredibly scary and filled with this weird anxiety. Will they like me if they see the real me?  Will I like them if I get to know them?  Maybe they won’t like me or I won’t like them. Or, maybe they’ll see I am not as cool or smart or whatever as they thought I was.

When you start a new relationship, self-hate, insecurity, and heart-racing unexplainable anxiety kick in. If you’ve ever experienced the anxiety loop of texting anxiety, you might understand what friendship anxiety is. Some people only experience this when they get into new romantic relationships, but people with an anxiety disorder, experience this with every new relationship.

If you have bipolar disorder or ADHD there is a good chance you also have anxiety. Half of people with bipolar disorder also have an anxiety disorder and 25 percent of those with ADHD have anxiety. 

Having anxiety can lead to isolation and fear of doing things you want to do, like making a new friend. Rather than take the risk of getting to know someone and facing the challenge of the anxiety it causes, people with anxiety may avoid making close friends. I have realized over the years this is me. 

Bipolar disorder and ADHD can cause you to talk too much and too fast when you’re nervous. I have hypomania symptoms frequently when I am under stress and this is especially true when I start a new friendship. I have a hard time controlling my impulsivity, blurt things out, and send too many texts. Then freak out about my text and text again to alleviate that anxiety which only leads to more anxiety. The waiting… for someone to reply back to you and say… Hey, I don’t think you are actually a total lunatic.  Sound familiar?  This is friendship anxiety.

Tips for dealing with friendship anxiety

I have some positive words for you if you have friendship anxiety. This is completely normal. Every single person has some fears when entering a new relationship. Not everyone has an anxiety disorder or anxiety attacks, but there are ways you can cope with your anxiety when you start a new relationship.  These are my tips for people with bipolar disorder and ADHD, but I think they are applicable to anyone.

Spend some time on self-care.

  • Do something physical.  As soon as you recognize that your anxiety is getting unmanageable take some time for self-care. I recommend doing something physical like ten minutes of any type of exercise. It doesn’t have to be a workout, just do something. Take a walk, march in place, dance around. Do something to release that energy and stress that is physical.
  • Meditate.  Take a minute to breathe.  This is a good time to meditate. Sometimes you can’t meditate, but you can practice slowing down your breathing and positive self-talk during those times. I always meditate as soon as I am able to get some time alone. If you can’t get alone time, you can simply excuse yourself to use the bathroom. I do a thing where I take a minute to envision an imaginary protective forcefield around myself and it makes me feel safe and secure.
  • Journal.  I have used journaling for years.  I have discovered that video journaling is another tool that helps me. Just taking the time to write out your feelings helps you to manage them. These days, there are a ton of journaling apps you can download and use on your phone. You don’t have to have a pen and paper around when you need to journal.
  • Take a shower or bath. There is something soothing about taking a shower or bath. It helps me to escape my head for a minute and calms me down. It gives you a minute away from your kids, your partner, and the world to cry, calm down, or decompress.
  • Take a nap! Sometimes the only way for me to break an anxiety cycle is to sleep it off. Just like when I have migraines, sleep can reset my brain. If I am having an anxiety loop I can’t break free of, I will drink some tea, and take a nap.

Watch my video on friendship anxiety!

When you’re having that freakout, watch my video. I have found that watching YouTube videos, even my own tips help me to calm down. Anxiety is a constant struggle and knowing you’re not alone helps. Take a shower. Take a walk. Do something physical. Meditate and release your anxiety.

Distract yourself

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of making a new friend is waiting for a text, phone call, or the next conversation. Did I totally blow it? Do they still like me? Why haven’t they texted or called me back?  This can make anyone with anxiety, freak out. Before you send your new friend another text, remember a few things. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t call or text back. It may have nothing to do with you. 

People also need space to process their emotions. When you have anxiety, giving people that space is hard because you need their reassurance to calm you down. But, I promise you, if you can learn to give your new friends space, they will appreciate it. It will lead to a healthier friendship.

Turn off your phone for a while

Turn off all your electronics for a while. Your phone, texts, and social media add to your anxiety level. Turn them all off for a while and take a break from the world. It is okay to give yourself space to process your own emotions and calm down your anxiety.

Reframe your anxiety to something positive

Meaningful friendships are based on authenticity. If you have bipolar disorder and someone doesn’t “get you” they may not be the right person to be friends with you.  You may find that there are more people like you than you think. There is something attractive about vulnerability and being real.

When you think you are an embarrassment, remember that there are a lot of people in this world that understand that mental wellness is a struggle. If you allow your new friend to see you — beautiful, flawed, imperfect you — you are creating a genuine connection. Don’t go into your new friendship with dread.  You are taking the first steps in creating a real relationship. Be proud of yourself.  The process might be scary, but really… Who needs fake friends anyway?

If you have friendship anxiety, remember the law of attraction

Like attracts like. Whenever you feel like hiding from the real you, remember the more YOU you are, the more you will attract the friends you need into your life. Love yourself a little bit more today. You are a beautiful person who deserves real and genuine friends.



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