Not everyone looks forward to dating. While some people have the time of their lives, others may suffer from a social anxiety disorder. Reports show that more than 18% of the entire US population suffers from at least one form of anxiety disorder. The reports also state that social anxiety disorder (SAD) is the third most common form of anxiety disorder in the US.
Dating anxiety is what some people call the fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of not being good enough, fear of being good enough, fear of being judged, or whatever else it is that makes you worry about dating. It is absolutely possible to date and have fun, even if you suffer from anxiety.
However, dating is not something to look forward to for anyone suffering from SAD. So, is there a way around this? Can I relax and have fun despite having dating anxiety?
The simple answer is “Yes, you can,” and we will show you how in this post.
Below are a few tips to get you to relax and have fun whenever you experience dating anxiety:
1. Plan for the Date
There’s probably nothing that fuels dating anxiety more than the uncertainty that accompanies not knowing how the date will play out. This is why you should enroll in pre-dating preparation. Feel free to express what you wish to happen during the date and make a plan to guide you towards your wish. For instance, if you feel being closer to your home will help you feel more relaxed and less nervous, do not be shy about suggesting that the date is somewhere nearby. Visit the Happymatches website to learn more.
You can also suggest that you both go in separate vehicles if you feel being picked up by your date will make you more nervous. Don’t shy from asking for a double date if you feel the presence of another couple will help ease your mind.
2. Learn To Express the Way You Feel
It is always advisable that you are able to express the way you feel under any circumstances, and experiencing anxiety is not an exception. Trying to hide your anxiety is the perfect recipe for being even more anxious. Instead of relaxing and enjoying the date, you will exert more effort trying to hide that anxiety. However, when your date knows that you are quite nervous, they will help you through the process. Your date will often offer supportive words and be patient when you experience a nervous breakdown.
3. Relaxation Techniques Can Be a Lifesaver
Whenever you feel the anxiety getting out of hand, you should practice some relaxation techniques like guided imagery, journaling, deep breathing, etc. Practicing these techniques will be easier if your date knows about your feelings of anxiety. These techniques will help you relax and pause the moment so you can continue enjoying your dating event when ready.
You can also check out our blog on Exercise to Relieve Stress and Anxiety for more information.
4. Take a Break
What if everything goes wrong? This is where you will have to take a deep breath and muster the courage for the next date. You should avoid going on another date immediately after a bad one. Give yourself time to get comfortable and try again.
5. Go For a Walk or a Cup of Coffee Instead of Getting Dinner Right Away
You shouldn’t meet a new person and immediately jump into seeing if you can be their boyfriend/girlfriend. Instead, give yourself time to get to know them better before deciding if you want something long-term with them.
This is because you’re going to have a lot of things to do with this new person. You’ll be setting up the date, driving to it, and then spending time together. Plus, it takes time to get to know someone (at least a few dates usually).
Go for a walk or a cup of coffee instead of getting dinner right away. It’s best to meet in a place where you can talk and get to know each other before committing to a full meal out. Some people with dating anxiety find that they become less nervous once they talk to each other, making it easier to relax at dinner.
6. Join a Club or Community Group That Interests You
If you find yourself having dating anxiety, you can relax by joining a club or community group that interests you. This will give you something else to focus on and help you feel more confident as it involves other people.
7. Don’t Panic If You Don’t Find a Date
When you have dating anxiety, you can feel your anxiety rising when it comes to the thought of finding a date. It’s natural to feel nervous when meeting new people, but if your anxiety is overwhelming, you might want to make some changes.
Change your approach. You can’t control how other people will act, but you can control how you react. If the mere idea of being on a date makes you feel anxious, change your mental approach to dating. Think of it as a fun adventure instead of something that will cause you stress. If nothing else works, try something different: You might not be comfortable joining an online dating site, but perhaps meeting someone in person would be less stressful for you.
8. Remember that Your Worth Isn’t Determined By Your Romantic Status or the Status of Your Romantic Life
A little anxiety before a date can be a good thing. It means you’re interested in someone, and it can help you stay alert so that your first impression is a good one. But when dating anxiety interferes with your ability to enjoy the date itself, it’s time to do something about it.
If you need an ego boost, remind yourself of your good qualities (and there are plenty). You’re smart, funny, and kind. You’re a wonderful daughter or son and sibling and friend.
9. Notice When You’re Feeling Self-Conscious about Dating and Tell Yourself That It’s Okay to Feel That Way
Notice where you feel stress relating to dating — Are you anxious about not knowing enough? Is it making you feel bad about yourself? Do you doubt what you say or do? Are you worried about being judged by others? When you notice, take a deep breath and tell yourself that these feelings are normal, and they will pass.
If you’re nervous, tell yourself that feeling this way means that this person must be worth your time! Remind yourself of the great qualities they have; those thoughts will help put those nerves at ease.
10. Lastly, Don’t Pressure Yourself. It May Take Some Time Before You Feel Like Dating Again
Take things slow, and if you’re nervous, that’s okay. Try to keep an open mind, and don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad first date or two.
If your anxiety is really bad, try going on a few “practice dates.” These are casual, low-commitment outings with no expectation of romance or sexual contact (take your dog for a walk, go to the movies). Practice makes perfect!
If you tell your date about how nervous you are, there is a huge chance that you both will be happy to reschedule your date if the first one goes wrong. Hence, it is safer to share your feelings than trying to hide them.
Want to know if you have anxiety? See if you have these Top 10 Signs of High Anxiety.