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I'm really disappointed in myself - I'm scared dating and intimacy

Community Member

Hello friends

I've posted here a few times. I was in a 5 1/2 year old relationship with someone very abusive. She was never formally diagnosed as such, but she had very strong covert narcissistic traits. A lot of the abuse was covert in nature, gaslighting, isolating, silent-treatment and subtle put downs.

For me the worst abuse occurred in intimate situations. Unfortunately I experienced for a while ED as a result of A/D medication I was on. It was not something I could control. My ex would scream and yell at me, she would say all sorts of horrible hurtful things. She made it very clear this problem was entirely my fault, and that I had to fix it. I believed her, so I tapered of the A/D medication, and sure enough the ED issue did improve. Although I never felt safe/comfortable around my ex, so naturally that would have an impact.

To make matters worse, once this problem was resolved, she told me I was a monster and an animal basically for having a sex drive (which at that times wasn't exactly high due to the abuse).

I managed to escape that relationship 10 months ago. I've had quite a bit of therapy and felt like I was making progress and healing.

Recently I was contacted by a good friend. She said a friend of hers took interest in me, and suggested we go on a blind date. Nothing high-pressure, just coffee during my lunch break at work. I agreed to this. I figured there's nothing to lose, and it would be good for me to meet someone new.

As time passed, and the day this would take place got closer, I cancelled it. I was having panic attacks, so scared of just having coffee with someone. Instead of feeling excited and maybe just a little nervous, which it probably normal, I felt paralysed by fear.

Now that I've cancelled this, I feel really disappointed in myself. I though I had made more progress in overcoming the damage caused by my ex. It like being back at square one again.

I feel totally stuck. I'm 29 years old, and quite lonely in many respects, yet I'm unable to even have coffee with someone. In one sense I'm ready to meet someone new, but there almost a hard-wired circuit in my brain that activates a panic response at the slightest hint of potential romance.

I would be so grateful if anyone has advice for me that might help me get out of this predicament.

Thank you

5 Replies 5

Dear rhinoceros
Welcome to the forums and to this kind and supportive community. Thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing that experience.
We are sorry that you have gone through this.  Domestic abuse can have a long lasting impact on the way we think and behave; this is because of the trauma it creates and what you are experiencing right now, for example, fear, avoidance, anxiety and panic; it’s our brain’s way of trying to keep ourselves safe.  Please allow yourself time to hear and take care of you, you might find 1800 RESPECT (telephone 1800 737 732) a good resource to understand the impact of domestic abuse and to obtain some strategies on how you may navigate the future.
In addition to posting in the forums, we also invite you to call or chat to one of our trained mental health professionals who will also be able to listen and offer care; it’s completely confidential and available 24/7:
To call us, contact 1300 22 4636
To use webchat, Click Here 
We are here to help and support you through this journey.  Thank you again for joining this community, we hope that you can join other conversations that resonate with you and read about other users and their journey to better mental health.
Sophie M

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello rhinoceros, I'm sorry about your previous r/lationship, but perhaps to overcome this fear, may be you could make this coffee date into taking a friend with you, so it will be 4 people, instead of you and her, then you can decide whether or not this could be a suitable r/lationship, however, perhaps you could have this foursome a few times.

Just a suggestion.


Community Member

Thank you Geoff for your reply

I agree, I think a group setting would be more comfortable for me. It would certainly make me feel less pressured. I'm trying to see the positives out of this experience. If I was asked to go on a date like this even 2-3 months ago, it would have been totally out of the question. The fact I'm even thinking about dating again, and feeling some sort of desire to connect with someone again one day is an improvement.

The recovery from that abusive relationship has been slow and difficult at times. I did feel like I was making progress. I think what really upset me, was realising how I still suffer extreme anxiety and fear about romance or intimacy. It's a combination of not being able to trust, and having zero self confidence.

In the 5 1/2 years I was with my ex, I had zero sense of safety or comfort.

Tomorrow I'm going for my first session with a psychologist who specialises in trauma recovery, and is an EDMR practitioner. I really want to one day be able to go on dates and meet people and not feel quite so paralysed.

I'm very lonely, but I have to say, I'd rather be lonely than being gas lighted constantly etc.

While I feel sense disappointment, I'm trying to look at this in the most positive way I can.

Community Member

Hi op.

lt also hasn't been very long for you either , that was very serious stuff you went through with your ex, sometimes time we need can't be rushed.

l'm sorry about the coffee though but firstly l'd say during a work lunch break might be a pretty awkward and rushed time to be meeting somebody new, on top of what your still dealing with . Seems as you cancelled so it's not like you just disappeared, maybe you could contact her or the friend again and try to make it at a new time and try again. Mae it after work though or on the wkend.

Anyway give yourself time.


Hello rhinoceros, when you go out and have coffee as a group of four people, it's not to necessarily mean it's a dating service, it's only means you are going to have coffee, whether it works out that the two of you get on and want to go somewhere else depends on how you feel.

There shouldn't be any pressure because this will only make you nervous, so another foursome at some other time may be more suitable.

It doesn't mean you have to ask them out.