You are right that it’s important that you address this anxiety. Until you do, it is unlikely you will find someone to love.
I suspect that the root of your trouble is a fear of rejection. It’s not often talked about, but looking for love is an exercise in dealing with the possibility that one of you will be rejected. You are not alone in your fears. No one likes to be rejected. No one likes to make themselves vulnerable to another person and be found wanting. Complicating things further, is that many people also don’t feel uncomfortable with rejecting another. Looking for love is not for the faint-hearted.
A serious search for a partner means being willing to be on both sides of the transaction. It means feeling strong enough to hold onto your good opinion of yourself even when someone else, especially someone you are interested in, doesn’t. It also means being willing to call a halt to a developing relationship when you know in your heart that it isn’t a “fit” even when the other person will be hurt.
Rejection hurts, whether you are the rejector or the rejectee. The answer is not to avoid meeting other people but to develop some tools for dealing with the issue of rejection.
Taking care of yourself when rejected requires having perspective. Rejection by one person, even by a terrific person, doesn’t mean that you are rejectable. It’s important to be able to hold onto the idea that you are a lovable person even if not loved by this one individual. You may not be what the other person wants or needs. They may be going through their own struggles with commitment. It may be a matter of timing. Whatever the reason, being rejected does give you an opportunity for self-reflection and for growth. If, when being honest with yourself, that person had a point about some quality or behavior you need to work on, you can learn from the experience as you move on.
Taking care of the other person means not prolonging a relationship you know is going nowhere. It is not a service to stay in a relationship just because you don’t want to hurt someone. The longer you stay in, the more hurt they will be when you finally call it off. Rejecting another requires you to be your most compassionate self. Remember: It’s true that two people can experience the same moments in different ways. What may be no big deal to you can put stars in the eyes of someone else. They are not delusional. They just bring different wants and needs to the situation. You can ease rejection by taking much of the reason on yourself and by not engaging in blame or shame of the other.
The time to think about how to handle rejection and rejecting is before getting involved. Review your own coping skills. Develop kind strategies for letting someone else down. Feeling prepared will help you find the courage to look for love again.
I wish you well,