advice on dealing with body image, commitment and abandonment issues

To be honest, not much is happening in my love life right now.

I have a dating app installed on my phone, but I genuinely haven’t touched it in over a year (i.e. no sex or even talking). I was sexually active and constantly swiping 2 years ago, but I stopped feeling the need to be on it? I definitely got busier so I didn’t have much time but…

Right now, what’s stopped me from being on it is a mix of quarantine, a body image issue, and commitment issues. This honestly spells disaster for my love life right now. I have problems being comfortable enough with another person to be naked with. Aaaannnddd I have abandonment issues that stem from daddy issues.

I don’t even know what advice I’m looking for, but I’d like to hear your thoughts? Maybe where I can start with getting over this funk 😦

Thank you so much for sending this in. The fact that you’re able to identify the different aspects that you’re struggling with is the first step. I have different issues and anxieties that I struggle with as well, and I know it took me a long, long time to even pinpoint what exactly bothered me and why that is.

The obvious advice here, and what I truly want to emphasize, is therapy. I’m sure it’s something you’ve already thought of or may even be in, but I think absolutely everyone can benefit from therapy—especially someone like you who has the ability to be open and wants to put in the work.

As for other resources that may benefit you, I love following different therapists on Instagram. Lisa Olivera (@lisaoliveratherapy) and Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy (@drlaurenfogelmersy) are two of my favorites. They provide so many prompts for self-reflection and discovery, and it could help provide some more self-care into your daily life. Please note, though, that therapists on Instagram are NOT an alternative for therapy.

I also think you might enjoy the podcast called Why Won’t You Date Me? by comedian Nicole Byer. She’s hilarious and talks about dating every episode, but she also opens up about her abandonment issues. I may be biased because I love her AND I love dating podcasts, but I highly recommend.

Okay. Now that I’ve gotten the responsible advice out of the way, let me tell you what I think. I think you’re incredibly self-reflective and have the ability to identify when you do or don’t want to do something. 

Based on this question, it sounds like you want to get into the dating scene again. Before you said you “stopped feeling the need to be on it”, but that’s not how you feel now. Now what’s stopping you is the quarantine and other personal issues you’ve identified.

Even if the quarantine wasn’t going on right now, my first advice to you would be to say, “Fuck it! Open up Bumble!” Go to your profile, and upload the pictures you feel most confident in. Swipe on one person a day or swipe for a couple hours a day. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. I advise you to start with Bumble specifically because you have full control of who gets to message you. It’s perfectly fine to just swipe on people, and then never message them. It’s perfectly fine to message people once, then never message them again. You are in control, and I want you to remember that. You never, ever, ever have to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with, ESPECIALLY when it comes to dating.

As for the body image issues, commitment issues and abandonment issues, I get that these feel like they can consume you sometimes, but by just using an app at your own pace, you aren’t setting up anything for the long term. 

Dating can seem paralyzing and scary for so many people because of expectations. I genuinely believe that’s why dating is so difficult, but I don’t think it has to be like that—dating can be and is fun. It took me a long time to fully believe that. Once I moved to Los Angeles, I decided dating was something I was going to do just to meet new people, get a story out of it and discover what I like. I didn’t go into a first date thinking, oh my fxcking god, he’s the ONE. (Okay, maybe sometimes…) It’s better to just ride it out and see what happens, then cross the commitment bridge when you get to it.

For the longest time, I felt like my struggles with commitment and abandonment issues would severely affect my dating life. I lost my dad when I was 17, and a lot of my mental health issues stem from this. I didn’t think I would ever want to commit to someone because I didn’t want to let people in my life become that close to me just to lose them. And now that I have a loving boyfriend, I get so anxious thinking about losing him, as well as my fear of losing my mom. It’s such a horrible, sinking feeling, and I really feel for you. But please, please don’t let your anxieties get in the way of enjoying life.

The past few months, I’ve been getting really panicky at times when I drive. When I’m anxious, I often experience derealization, and I find it gets triggered a lot more while in control of a car. Something about the moving scenery, or the fact that I’ve had a few panic attacks while in a car, who knows. Either way, my brain associates this and puts me on high alert when I drive. I, of course, told my therapist about all this. I wanted answers. What the fuck do I do, quit driving forever? Take an Uber? Have my mom drive me everywhere???

My therapist told me to drive more.

If something (that shouldn’t scare you) scares you, you need to dive in head first and do it. So get into that car (this is a metaphor for logging onto Bumble, I think), and drive. You’re in control. You got this.

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