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Sept. 7, 2021

What Triggers Relationship Anxiety

What Triggers Relationship Anxiety

Are you experiencing anxiety about being in a relationship? Have you been having a hard time meeting new people on the dating apps? In today's show, Frank talks with relationship coach, Cali Mau about dating during a pandemic.

Show Highlights

  • Is Relationship Anxiety a Normal Process?
  • How to date again after a bad breakup
  • Using dating apps to meet someone new
  • Interview with relationship coach Cali Mau
  • Special offer from our sponsor BetterHealth online therapy

Relationship Anxiety is Common

 So ladies and gentlemen, please go ahead now and fasten your seatbelts because in today's show, I'm going to discuss the very real phenomenon of relationship, anxiety, and more importantly, what you can do about it. Wouldn't that be amazing if you had a few tools in your dating kit to help you weed out some of the bad apples out there. imagine how good it would feel if you could start dating again and maybe even experience the joy of feeling confident in a relationship. So if that's the case, today is the day, you're going to get the info that you need. to help me to discuss this emotionally charged topic and it is emotionally charged. I have a very special guest. Who's going to join me shortly. Her name is Cali Mau, and she's an expert at relationships. She's a relationship coach Cali is coming on the show today to share some of her awesome tips on how to navigate the anxiety around pursuing a new relationship. 

What is Relationship Anxiety?

 Well, what is relationship anxiety? Well, it's not a term that you're going to find in psychology textbook. relationship anxiety is what we use in our society to describe those feelings of worry insecurity and self-doubt that can pop up while dating or being in a new relationship. And I'll tell you straight out that in my own experience, working with patients in my private practice, this relationship anxiety can start kicking in before the first date even happens. You see, there is this term we actually do use it. Psychology called learned helplessness. It was discovered by psychologist, Martin Siegelman and Steven Mayer for the purposes of today's show. I'll narrow this concept down to just human behavior. 

Learned helplessness can be when a person has maybe had a bad experience in the past and they convince themselves that they can't succeed at meeting someone new or in this case, being in a relationship. In other words, the person schema of the world is that they'll have no success at meeting someone new and as a result, they just give up. They don't ask for any hope and they just stop trying. If you've listened to previous episodes, you know that this is negative thinking and negative thinking can be your worst enemy because the truth is you do deserve to be happy. And there's every reason in the world to believe that you can find someone who thinks you're special. This might not happen overnight because dating is a process, but it can happen.

Now just three fast items before we begin the interview. If you like this show, please leave me a review on apple podcast or iTunes. I guess the reviews help more people to find the show with the algorithm. Second, remember you can reach me by going directly to the website at anxiety therapist, From there, you can leave me an email or a voicemail or even follow-on social media. And finally, this show is not a replacement for mental health counselling. And I'm not your personal therapist.

Let's jump in and get started with the interview with Cali on relationship anxiety. Hi, Cali welcome to the show. Can you tell us a little bit about you and what motivated you to become a relationship coach? 

Interview with Relationship Anxiety Expert

Sure. So, as you stated, I'm a relationship coach and I help people create deeply intimate relationships with their partner or within that relationship realm of their life. I got into this business, I kind of did a complete 180 degree flip because I worked in the legal industry before. And I did my internship in like a family law firm handling divorces and custody, and all of those kinds of nasty issues, worked in the legal kind of segment for the better part of a decade. And yet in my own personal relationships throughout my life, I mean, even stemming back from my childhood kind of adolescence into early adulthood, I didn't really have that relationship piece of myself figured out. And I got to a point in my life where I knew that I needed to figure myself out. And so I kind of went on my own self healing journey and really dove into relationships and psychology and what makes people tick and why these patterns in relationships seem to keep happening and reoccurring.

So, as I kind of went in that direction for myself and started seeing these patterns, I decided that this is the new direction that I wanted to take. So I went back to school and got certified and wanted to really help people in this way, not just deal with the problems on the backend. Once we go through the messiness and we're dealing with legal ramifications, I want to help people take a more proactive approach and know that a lot of the time, you know, it's there, that there is a proactive approach that you can take to actually reconnect and create that relationship that you actually want. 

Absolutely. I think that's so important that you shared a little bit about your own journey. You know, there is a misconception out there with people. They think that all relationship coaches or life coaches, or even therapists are perfect and not realize that a lot of us have had to go through our own journey. It's a continuous journey in life to be able to help people.

Related: Why Dating Apps are Bad for Guys

How to Manage New Relationship Anxiety Triggers

Yeah, absolutely. I mean even personally I'm a very open book, but you know, I want people to, I'm very open about the fact that, you know, in my early adulthood, I say that I was the relationship train wreck. And I say that because first of all, it's true. And second of all, I want to really normalize for people that, you know, there is, even if you're feeling that way, there is a way out and there is a way to kind of do it better. But you're right. It's always a continuous journey just because I'm a relationship coach doesn't mean I have a perfect relationship. You can ask my husband, but you know, it's about finding a better way to move forward and have more consistent connection, less arguing, have more of that relationship that you actually want. Yeah.

Cali, with your business, what are the most kind of, sort of common issues that people come to you for help with?

So it depends on what kind of person is coming to me because sometimes I will have a married person come to me. And generally when someone that is married is coming to me, it's because we're dealing with a real breakdown in the relationship. So we're kind of at a place and people, a lot of the time don't even ask for help until like, things are bad. And we don't ask for help until we're like, okay, there's a complete breakdown. We're on the verge of a divorce. We've mentioned divorce where like the relationship is at a crossroads basically. So a lot of the times I get clients that are coming to me in that state in which case it's really- my approach with my clients, whether they're single and looking to date and looking for a relationship or married and an interrelationship, it is the same process actually. 

So sometimes I do have single people come to me and they're like, I'm looking for a relationship. And, you know, I don't know what I'm doing wrong, or I don't know what I'm looking for. And so I help guide them in that way. But like I said, no matter what state people are coming to me in the process itself is kind of the same.

I understand having done my own relationship counseling on occasion, I normally work with individuals, but on occasion, right there is that sort of glide path that's very similar when you're working with people. Another question I had was how has COVID 19 changed the dating process over the last year and a half or two?


Pandemic Dating Anxiety

Oh my gosh. I mean significantly because I know a lot of people prior to COVID-19 that were strictly against the dating apps, dating websites, they were just like, I am not going to meet my person that way, just I refuse to. And I always tell people if that's what you still decide, that's okay. You know, but understand that in the world's being what it is right now in this pandemic, you are significantly you're possibly putting your dating life on pause, or at least significantly limiting who you meet, because it's not like you can bump into a stranger, you know, out at the bar, you know, or ways that people used to just run into people or meet up other people, you know, classes or the gym or whatever. Now, because so many things are shut down online, just like everything else, you know, meetings and people are having to get online to then meet people in this sort of untraditional way. And it creates its own opportunities as well as problems.

Especially. And I've had, you know, some of the, especially some of the male patients that I work with, which I'll talk to a little bit in a little bit about, and they would say, Frank, where do I go on these dates to bars are closed? Or I can't go to the restaurant. And I would say, well, maybe you can go for a walk somewhere in a public place, of course, to meet but I mean, it was, it was really difficult trying to help them with places that they could even go on the dates. because some people they're just not comfortable with, Hey, come over to my place and let's hang out. I mean, I don't know you. Right. So it's, it could be a mess.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, like I said, this is one of those areas that it's one of those things we've had to sort of problem-solve through a pandemic, but my mind absolutely goes to things like this is an opportunity to get real cute guys, because you could even be like, I want to take like, I would love to take you out for Chinese food, but the Chinese food places close, let's both order Chinese food and we'll do a zoom date and we'll talk and we'll get to know another.

Why Are Dating Apps Essential?

That's awesome lot of these are women and they feel really frustrated with the dating scene and they feel kind of stuck. They're kind of confused so my question is, what advice would you give to some women out there who are putting themselves out there and are on the verge of giving up? They're just kind of over it now.

Yeah. I mean, again, where we're using an app or a website or this untraditional means of meeting people. But even when that wasn't so much the case, even when it was going out on physical date and meeting people in person. I still knew a lot of people that were meeting the wrong kind of people and just feeling like, oh, what's the point I want to give up. So whether or not you're on the apps, the websites or meeting in person, I think that dating fatigue is a very real thing. And so what I encourage my clients to do is sort of sit with themselves for a beat and figure out what the boundaries are that they need to set around kind of opening themselves up to the dating scene in that way. so that they don't feel the burnout because if you're on the apps and you're on the apps and you're on the apps and it's not working and you're feeling frustrated, but I have to keep putting myself out there. You know, if I'm going to find someone and all you're doing is kind of getting stuck in this cycle of frustration. 

So by creating some boundaries around maybe the amount of time that you spend on the app or the amount of time that you invest into talking to other men or women. Just, you have to figure out your own limits before you get to that point of frustration. And if you're getting to that point of frustration, sort of taking a step back and saying, I need some time for me to recharge so that I can be emotionally available to even engage in any kind of relationship.

Do you think people even meet anymore without the apps? Like they do it the traditional way. when I was younger, there was no apps. You went out there, you had to give your best line and hope it worked. So I do people even meet that way anymore.

You know, in the age of a pandemic, honestly, I don't, I don't know how much that's happening. I mean, I'm sure it does happen, but much more so we're seeing the trend toward the dating apps where the websites and other things. I've even encouraged clients, those people that are very against those dating apps. Okay. What kind of alternative maybe unconventional means could you possibly look into, to meet someone in person and some of the times that's maybe even hiring a matchmaker. there are lots of different things that are out there that, you know, don't necessarily think of, or aren't deemed traditional, but you have to sort of create your own rules and what's going to work for you. And that's because all of us are different. And so if you're like, I'm not going to be on the apps, I'm going to meet someone in person. Okay. Just go into it, knowing what that means. 

Can Someone Overthink Relationship Anxiety?

Okay because on the other side of that, Cali is I work with a lot of women who do use the dating apps and they have no problem getting dates. Like, they can get a date on accident, but here's what, at least they sorta tell me, they say, I'm going on all these dates, but I can't seem to find the right guy or the right one. And then it just turns into this cycle of dating and dating and dating and not being able to sort of get the right fit. Do you ever run into this sort of issue with people you're working with and what might you advise people who are going through this?

 Yeah, so I have absolutely heard that, seen that from clients. And the approach that I take is really more so I think that oftentimes women tend to, and not just women, men as well, tend to focus on what am I looking for in a partner. And we kind of get this tunnel vision on, like, the more I am clear about that and focus on that, then I'll be able to know him when I see him. Or I'll be able to know her when I see her. And I actually kind of take the reverse approach and say the clearer that you can actually get on you, the better. the more that you know yourself, you will know when someone is able to compliment those things in you. So the process that I take my clients through is definitely more so self discovery and that self identification, rather than pinpointing what you think you want in a partner.

So there's kind of that part of it then, you know, for women, I think that we tend to- I think women are more socialized to not know or not actually say what we want. I think that we tend to be socialized to be more passive. And so by knowing, and again, kind of ties back into that self identification is like the more that we know ourselves and we know what we want the more competently, we can say what we want and we know what our boundaries are, and we know what those red flags look like. This is all about creating more awareness within ourselves. I think a lot of the time. And I found that that has been hugely helpful with women moving through the dating world. 

So You're saying that it, and this is for men and women, but you're speaking to, especially the women here get right with yourself first, get to know yourself first, before you can get out there and meet someone that you can be close with. Right?

Can Relationship Anxiety Ruin a Relationship?

Okay. Over the years, I also, I've worked with both men and women who struggle with anxiety about getting into a new relationship. And a lot of these people I've worked with have been burned in the past. In other words, they've been cheated on and there was some scarring there. You know, my question about that is what do you say to someone who's listening right now who's had like a really bad breakup and is thinking about dating again, and it's a little bit scared to get started?

Yeah. you know, been there, done that. Got the t-shirt.

I do too.

Yeah, I mean at this point it was like, I own the t-shirt factory. But you know, so many of us have been there. And part of the the pain about going through cheating is that it triggers so many, like unhealthy messages in us. We start wondering things like, is it me? Is there something wrong with me? Why did this happen? Am I not good enough? Am I not lovable? I mean, all of these unhealthy messages get triggered. And so it's very important before you're putting yourself out there again, if you don't deal with those messages, all you're going to do is you're going to put your next partners through the ringer of having to deal with the baggage of what you've already been put through. So I think that it's very important for us to, you know, start to heal those parts of ourselves to then be open, to treating another partner fairly.

So, you know, definitely working on that, but then also there is like, I tell my clients that have been through a recent breakup, whether or not it's a nasty one or not. With breakups come disappointment and I think that when you've been in a relationship with someone, you're kind of constantly looking to the future and saying, do I see them in it? Do I see being with them a long-term, especially people that are married, you saw a future with this person forever. So when that doesn't happen, I think that it's very important to actually go through the grief process and I'm sure you're very familiar with it as a therapist. But literally walking them through each step of what do you need to grieve about this relationship so that you can move forward and walk away with what did you learn from it and how can that help you move forward?


little bit limited in the way. So in other words, I very rarely, if ever will say to someone directly, you know, cut it out, stop it. Because I want the person to be able to share their feelings. Yes. But it's very apparent sometimes when I'm working with someone that they've just gotten out of a relationship and they started a new one and the new one has all the red flags, anybody you could be on Mars and see the red flags, but because the person wants so badly to get into a new relationship, they completely miss all the red flags and they end up getting into a very very similar type of situation that they just got out of.


Right. Well, I know when I'm working with, and again, men and women, and as a therapist, I'm a Absolutely. And I think that to our core, we all want to be loved. I mean, we all wanna be loved. We all want to be accepted. And so that's part of what not having a partner trigger in us, I think, is the potential that we are not lovable. It's one of those core wounds that, you know, I really try and help my clients work with, you know, work around is the more that you can understand that you have everything that you need within yourself. The more that you can love yourself, the more that you will be able to easily identify red flags in another person, because you know that you don't need that you don't need bad behaviour to be loved because you can love yourself and you can respect yourself.


Absolutely. And again, I think that grief process that you talked about, there's the five stages of grief. If anyone's wondering, and one of them is grief, the last one is acceptance, but that grief, and then that part of acceptance, accepting how things happen and the way they are. And then having the ability to move forward is so important, but that grief really needs to happen first. So Cali, if it's all right with you, I wanted to do just a few rapid fire questions. 



All right. So some rapid fire questions just to sort of get to some burning questions people might have. All right. If there's a guy out there listening right now and they've been going on the dating apps, or they're just going to get started, what sort of tips can you give them for making a first impression a good first impression?

So I would say worry less about making a good first impression and worry more about putting your true self out there. I think oftentimes people generally tend to lead with their best foot forward. Right? It's very natural for us, but if I show you the best version of me and maybe not the real version of me I can potentially be fooling someone into a relationship. Cause you think that you're getting this person and really, I'm not that person I'm this other person. And so I say worry less about being your best self and worry more about being your true self.

So, right. And that doesn't necessarily that on every day you're out there spending hundreds of dollars, but it does mean that you're being honest with the person, right? Like about who you are and what you like and what they might be able to expect if they were in a relationship with you, not the fake self that's being put out there.

 Right. I mean there are women out there, there are people out there that are in it for the money. Like if you can't take me out on a high class date, then you aren't worth my time. 

You don't say?

If that's, yeah. I know shocking and if that's the kind of person you're looking for by all means, go that route, then go buy the fancy dinners. But if what you're looking for is somebody that is real and not in it for the money. And like, you know, it, it's all about kind of what you're looking for and keeping that in mind, because I know plenty of women that are less about the quality of the place you take me to. And it's more about the effort you put in. like, you could take me out to a picnic that is, you know, all set up and you know, and it costs you maybe $20 to put together, but you put in the effort of like setting this thing up for me. And it just shows that you're invested and that you maybe pay attention. Maybe you took me to do something that I mentioned that I like to go do. I think that that's more so what people should be focusing on and less about the, I have to spend this much to impress this person again, that's the recipe for disaster.

So what I'm hearing you say there is, especially for some of the men that might be listening to this, try to take a moment and get to know this woman, this person that you're taking out on a date, find out what their likes and make an effort to show them that they're special. And they mean something to you. It's not just about the bling.

Right? Absolutely. Or even show them, you know, part of what you're interested in, you know, and take them to go do something that you like to do is saying if you're part of my life, this is what it would look like. 

Absolutely. I mean, like I said, I think that women tend to be those more passive creatures. We're socialized to be more passive. And it's part of what I try to help my clients work towards is am being more assertive. You know, we don't want to be aggressive, but we do want to be assertive and understanding that it is 100% okay to ask for what you want. So if you went out on a date and you had a good time, I think that the rules about like, no, the guy has to be the first one. You know, if you're traditional in that way, then there's nothing wrong with that. But if you want to hear from him, talk to him, you know, everybody enjoys being pursued a little bit men too.

Absolutely. I can speak for a lot of the males that I work with, the males I work with. A lot of them, their problem is being ghosted. And I talked about that in, in a different episode. So to follow that up Cali, how long should a woman may be wait after that first date? She went on this date. She had a great time she's attracted to this guy. She felt that chemistry, how long should she wait to reach out to him?

You know, I think that there's no hard and fast rule about that. I think that as long as you like, have had time to sort of process the date. kind of analyze, okay, how did that go? I felt like it really went well, you know, what do I like about them? What do I not like? As long as you've had time to process and you've come to the conclusion that I'm interested and I want to know more, I don't think that there is a hard and fast rule, whatever feels right in the situation.

Okay. All right. So that is some very good information. I think people are going to take heart too. All right. My last question around this rapid fire is for guys out there, what should they not do? So not do after the first date they've just went on this date. What should they not do? 

Oh, goodness. Talk to, I mean, again, it depends on what you're in this for. If you're looking for a serious relationship, I think one of the, like, don't dos. And this is honestly for men or women is don't, don't be a player. Like don't be, looking at this person and saying, do I potentially see a relationship with them? If the answer is, yes, I potentially see a relationship with them then, you know, playing the field can get really dicey because if you're continuing to talk to other people and explore these other relationships as well, just understand that you could lose the right person.

 Absolutely. And I'd be interested to hear what, what your take on this is. What I tell both my male and female clients that I work with, if you're looking to hook up with somebody, that's fine, but be honest about it. 

 Yeah. Well now you're not going to go on Bumble or tumbler and say, yeah, I'm looking to hook up. But when you talk to him, you're going to say, I want something casual. But the last thing you want to do is tell people that you want something serious when that's totally not what you want at all.


Wrapping Things Up

Well, exactly. And I think that it's a very fatal mistake and I think that it happens a lot. I think because I have actually worked with male clients that have said like, yeah, I'm interested in a relationship and then when they go out with someone, they're kind of like, eh, yeah I don't know. But they can't like, yeah, I really liked her, but I'm going to keep looking around, like there's this thing that we do. Like, you know, it's almost like it's fear of missing out, right? It's FOMO, you know, I like this person, but if, if I stay off the market for them what if someone better comes along? Well, you know, what, if they are your person and you decide to explore your options and then you miss out on the great person, the love of your life.

Therefore, it just, at least in my opinion, it's so important to just be honest and upfront. I mean, there's, to a point you don't have to be too candid, but at least don't mislead someone. Okay. Cali if someone wants to get a hold of you what would they do? How could someone get a hold of you if they would like some help with the relationship or just dating again? 

Sure. Well, I am on all the social medias. I have a Facebook group called deeply intimate relationships. I'm on Instagram at @Calimaucoaching. I'm on, Tik-Tok at coach Cali and LinkedIn, of course I'm Cali Mau. And if you want to know more about me and what I do, as far as my process on relationships and how to work together, you can go to my website and that's

Okay. Cali thank you so much for joining us today. And it was a real pleasure to have you on the show and I hope we can have you back again soon.

 Yes. Thank you so much. 

Okay. So that was my interview with relationship coach Cali Mau. I hope today's episode was able to give you some useful information. If you're out there on the dating scene or you've just gotten into a new relationship. I also want to say thanks to everyone who's taken the time out to listen to this show. Well, that does it for today's episode. I'm Frank Sasso and you've been listening to the anxiety therapist podcast.

Cali Mau Profile Photo

Cali Mau

Relationship Coach

Cali Mau is helping people create deeply intimate relationships. As a relationship coach, Cali uses her unique process to guide people to develop healthy habits and discover the truest version of themselves so that they can start having the love-life they truly deserve. She is based out of Sitka, Alaska and is a speaker, blogger, and certified life coach.