It’s normal to be anxious about meeting people and making a good first impression, however, this anxiety can be so great that it holds you back from finding romantic companionship. Dating anxiety occurs when a person has excessive fears or worries before, during and after a date. It usually occurs before a person has a first date, but it can happen at any stage of dating.
Signs of dating anxiety
Dating anxiety manifests differently with some common signs including:
- Excessive worry and overthinking before and during dates
- Fear of rejection or judgment
- Difficulty making decisions
- Strong desire for perfection
- Physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, nausea and restlessness
- Avoidance behaviours like cancelling or avoiding dates
- Negative self-talk and self-doubt
- Lack of confidence in social interactions
Causes of dating anxiety
Dating anxiety is linked to:
- Previous rejection
- Previous relationship trauma
- A lack of confidence or self-worth
- Shyness and introversion
- Body image issues
- Anxious or avoidant attachment style
- Fear of rejection, embarrassment and judgment
- Concerns about personal safety
- Chronic health conditions
- Abandonment issues
- Dating inexperience
- Financial instability
Managing dating anxiety
Begin with why
Begin by identifying the source of your anxiety. Is it a product of trauma from a previous relationship or caused by a concern about personal safety? How you respond will be determined on why dating gives you so much anxiety. If it’s concern for personal safety, for example, you can take steps to be and feel safer such as meeting only in public places you trust with maybe a friend present looking out for you.
Figure out your what
What are you looking for in a relationship, in a person? Once you clarify your needs and desires for yourself, you fear of rejection decreases. Most of the time we fear rejection because we’re trying to morph into what we think the other person wants and are afraid we will fail. Focus instead on what you want and less on whether you are what they want. Be open and honest on the date looking at it like an exercise in finding out whether they are a good match for you based on your needs and values.
For some people, being the one to make plans can help reduce anxiety as well as just having a measure of control. This can be anything from picking the place to having your own transport to and from the date to having money to pay for your half even if the other person plans to pay.
Put yourself out there and consider it practice so that it’s low stakes. It may make you feel less anxious going in. Plus, if you view it as practice, you judge yourself less harshly afterwards. Reject the pursuit of perfection. There’s no such thing as perfection which is why practice exists. It doesn’t mean you don’t take the people you meet seriously, just that it’s no longer so high stakes.
Don’t put your life on hold as you wait to figure out this one part of it. Keep nurturing your other relationships and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Set aside time for self-care and activities that boost your sense of self-worth. For example, practice engaging in positive self-talk and affirmations.
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