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Dating Phobia — HELP!

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been this way. I have always resisted the idea of dating and being in a relationship. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a handful of crushes growing up and a couple have been mutual. But my fear of dating is so intense that I panic and cope by becoming mean and closed off to make them change their minds.I’m sure the way I was raised has something to do with this fear. My dad was a neglectful drunk who burdened me with his marital problems. It had a negative effect on me and caused a lot of anxiety and depression episodes. Could I have developed PTSD from that? And because of his drinking I now have no meaningful relationship with him. I don’t even love him. I honestly fear ending up with someone like him. I also fear I’ve waited so long to get in the dating game that I feel a lot of shame and embarrassment.

I don’t know what to do about it. This fear actually effects me daily. Especially now because a coworker that I’ve been kind of interested in actually confirmed he’s into me. What makes the situation more awkward for me is that my sister works with me and has joked to me about him and it’s embarrassing. Like her doing that makes me more anxious about it. He and I are work friends but not personal friends. And he’s also 26 and I’m 19. The age gap doesn’t bother me but I know it’s a big deal to other people.

I worry that he will start asking me out places, and I’d be really into going, but my anxiety will take over and throw me into a fit of panicking and crying.

What can I do?

Dating Phobia — HELP!

Answered by on -


Thank you for asking this important question. Your insight about the difficult relationship with your father and its effect on you now is accurate. In your life experience intimacy means trouble.

I would highly recommend group therapy. And dynamic group where working on relationships will be part of the curriculum would be very helpful. You can check the Find Help tab at the top of the page to look for a group therapist in your area.

Many women in a group together learning about relationship struggles and family-of-origin issues will be helpful as you move forward.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Dating Phobia — HELP!

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Dating Phobia — HELP!. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 17 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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