You know that feeling of excitement when you start dating someone new? It’s fun to feel the excitement when you open a new text message or butterflies in your stomach before you go on a date.
At the same time, opening yourself to someone new puts you in a vulnerable position. When you start dating, you also open yourself to rejection or being hurt.
And sometimes, it becomes so easy to focus on the potential rejection, or other fears, that we forget to enjoy the experience of dating. That nervousness you feel is called dating anxiety.
Completely normal interactions start poking at your internal insecurities. You start questioning what you should say:
● Should I wait a couple of days before following up?
● How can I craft the perfect text message?
● Did I *actually* say that?
● What if this person doesn’t like me?
● Should I just cancel the date?
These questions can take you away from the dating experience.
When you feel anxious, remind yourself:
1. Everyone feels anxious and nervous. It’s a common, human emotion to feel anxious! If you find yourself in a loop of anxious thoughts, remind yourself that every human has thought something similar at one point or another.
2. You can make the choice. Instead of worrying about what your date thinks about you, shift your frame of mind. Try to focus on what your goals are for the dating experience. Ask yourself: what does my date bring to the table?
3. Be yourself. There’s no benefit to hiding who you are! Your anxiety might want to hide parts of who you are to keep you safe. Keep in mind that if you end up dating someone long-term, they will learn about your quirks anyway.
Follow these tips to manage your dating anxiety:
1. Separate facts from feelings. Your brain might be hardwired to think that being rejected by your date means that you are unlovable. But is that actually a fact? Practice sorting through facts and your feelings.
● Do you have any proof that your thoughts are true? If so, what is the worst that could happen?
● What is another, more positive way you could look at the situation?
2. Be transparent. Let your date know if you’re feeling anxious or nervous! The feelings you’re experiencing are human. And you never know – your date might share their own feelings of nervousness, too!
3. When feeling anxious, take a moment to focus on your environment. This action helps bring you to the present and calm your feelings.
● Acknowledge negative thoughts and move on.
● Appreciate five things that are around you.
4. Accept yourself. Your anxiety might stem from low self-esteem. Build your self-esteem and your acceptance of yourself! Focus on things outside of dating like friendships, family, and hobbies.
5. Share your needs or expectations. What goals do you have for dating? Share any needs, expectations, or goals upfront.
6. Learn to identify the fear you feel. Does your anxiety come from fear? It’s important to identify fear as it comes up and avoid making decisions based on fear.
● Avoid pretending you’re someone else because you fear being rejected (or accepted).
● Avoid pushing someone away because you fear they might not be interested in you.
7. Enjoy the experience! Sometimes the anxiety we feel causes us to focus too much on the outcome that we forget to enjoy the experience. Remember to allow yourself to enjoy dating. Challenge yourself to have fun – no matter what.
● Notice positive things as they happen, like your date’s smile.
● Ask yourself, “How can I enjoy this moment?”
Anxiety can amplify the stress you feel. But anxiety does not have to control your life!
Practice managing your anxiety by bringing yourself to the present and finding positive things around you. Learn to identify your feelings like fear so you can learn ways to manage that fear.
Above all, enjoy the experience!