Someone with anxiety falls in love the way you do — instinctively, quickly, often easily. The only difference is that while they’re falling in love, their brain is also coming up with a million different reasons why this is also terrifying and dangerous and so easily broken.
Someone with anxiety falls in love slowly. And with a strange sense of guilt, because of the thoughts that won’t shut up. The thoughts like this can’t possibly last, and this can’t possibly be real, and this is too good to be true, and something’s going to ruin this at some point.
Someone with anxiety falls in love while feeling a strange mixture of hope and dread. Hope — that they’ve finally found someone they can talk to, someone they can depend on, someone they can trust, someone who will maybe bring them back when they feel trapped and suffocated in their own mind. And dread — that they will not be good enough, that they don’t deserve this, that their heart now sleeps peacefully in someone else’s hands but that it could end up being shattered at any moment.
But someone with anxiety also falls in love whole-heartedly.
They fall in love fiercely and absolutely and with the commitment to something that is finally light and exciting and real. They feel scared but certain, out of control but also lighthearted, with an immediate instinct to protect their person in every way possible and with the knowledge that they now care about someone else’s life more than their own.
Someone with anxiety appreciates the big stuff but falls in love during the little moments — quiet car rides, deep sleeps, telepathic looks in the middle of a boring party. They fall in love during reassuring conversations. They fall in love from hand-holding that puts them more at ease on a turbulent flight. They fall in love during a Saturday nap and a breakfast date that is just a bagel on a bench and a weekend spent with a family that starts to feel a little bit like their own.
They fall in love during the little things because the little things make them feel normal. The little things with someone special remind them that it doesn’t have to take much to bring them back from a dark night or a panic attack or a work meltdown.
Someone with anxiety falls in love the way you do — they fall in love intensely and vulnerably and wholly. The only difference for them is getting to a place where they believe that they truly deserve it.
Kim Quindlen is a writer and comedian living in Chicago. For more of Kim, follow her on Instagram.