Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes
“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.”~ Amanda Seyfried
Does meeting someone new, exchanging info, or calling or texting that person and meeting up with him or her for a date make you nervous? Does asking someone out give you the jitters? You’re not alone.
What’s the cause of dating anxiety?
What causes this uncomfortable and nerve-wracking phenomenon? The fear of rejection. Or, the fear that the spark of love will not be there. Chemistry is important, after all. But, unfortunately, you have to take that risk if you want to find the person you’re meant to be with. Sucks, I know.
So, what exactly is “dating anxiety?” Well, it’s more like “anticipatory anxiety.” In other words, the “anticipation” of connecting with someone else and going on a date that causes the nerves. The truth is, most of us experience mild anxiety when meeting new people and going on dates – that is normal and healthy.
You want to be cautious when going out with someone you don’t know well. Even if the person is a friend of yours, you probably don’t know him or her in a “dating capacity,” so this is still a new experience for you. A new experience that could trigger anxiety.
However, for those who do suffer from an anxiety disorder or severe dating anxiety, going on a date can be downright terrifying. It can cause excessive perspiration and a clinched-up knotted stomach. Forget about butterflies, it’s more like a bucket of worms slithering around in your gut and making you queasy at the mere thought of talking to or going on a date with another person. Dating can be so overwhelming for some individuals that they “ghost” their dates or they swear-off dating altogether.
How to help
The good news is you can conquer your dating anxiety, so you can have fun on your dates. The first step is to make an effort – even a baby one. In other words, venture outside of your comfort zone. Offer your date a small glimpse into who you are and try to connect with him or her on some level – i.e. musical artists, vacation spots, common experiences, etc. Find something that will help you relax during your date.
But, what about before the “big date,” while you’re still “talking” with each other – how can you get over that pre-date anticipatory anxiety? Take your time. In other words, get to know each other better before planning a date. How? Video-chat so you’re able to see one another, as you get to know each other, and don’t rush the process. Enjoy the experience of getting to know one another.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you’ll probably still experience dating anxiety during those first few actual, in-person dates. Remember, that’s normal and healthy. But, it won’t be nearly as scary and overwhelming as going into your first date blind – not knowing what your date looks like or what his or her normal mannerisms are. So, go on virtual dates before setting-up an in-person one. You’ll feel better, your date will feel better, and you’ll both enjoy the experience better.
Thanks to our sponsor, Earnest, you can save big on your Student Loans!
Take a couple deep breaths
Go to a quiet place and take a couple of deep breaths when you experience social anxiety, panic attacks, or dating anxiety. Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing, or abdominal breathing, is a relaxation technique that reduces the number of breaths (when excited, scared, or nervous) you take, so you can calm down and think rationally.
Don’t wait until you are in the midst of a full-blown anxiety attack – take those deep breaths when you first start to feel overwhelmed, worried, or nervous.
Question your anxiety
Next, you’ll need to question your anxiety. In other words, you’ll need to figure out what is causing your dating anxiety. Is it a fear of rejection? A fear you will not have any chemistry? Is it stemming from your insecurities? Are you afraid that your date may not be the person you envisioned? Are you afraid your date will ghost you after meeting you? Is this a rational fear or are you being impulsive? Do you suffer from a diagnosed anxiety disorder?
It’s important to understand why you feel the way you do about dating, so you can resolve it and enjoy your life.
Plan a fun date
A good way to embrace dating anxiety and have a good time on your date is to plan a fun one! In other words, plan an “activity date” – one that is low pressure and fun, of course.
Activity dates are great distractions when you have dating anxiety. They take the pressure off of you so you are less anxious and more relaxed. These dates allow you to be your naturally beautiful and goofy self. Doing something you enjoy allows your real personality to come through and shine!
So, go bowling, double date with friends, explore the city, take a sunset hike together, go to a festival or concert, go on a dinner date at a lively venue (I love going to Mexican restaurants because they are so lively and fun), play laser tag or putt-putt golf, sign-up for a couples class (i.e. cooking), or get a couple’s massage.
The first step in planning a fun date is to find out what you both enjoy. Once you’ve got a good idea of what types of things you both like to do, you can schedule a date that helps you feel more comfortable. The result? You’ll be able to embrace your dating anxiety and have a great time with your date.
Read the longer version
You can learn more about embracing dating anxiety by reading the following articles: What Anxiety Actually Is And Why It Makes Relationships And Dating So Hard, How to Cope With Dating Anxiety, Dating Anxiety in the Age of Tinder, and Anxiety in Dating and New Relationships: Here’s What You Need to Know.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | All Articles | LinkedIn