No one said it was going to be easy, but when you have anxiety, the process automatically gets 10 times harder. Don’t fret though, you’re not a lost cause.
Despite the constant overthinking and triple-texting, there are ways to navigate through dating with anxiety. Maybe if you follow them, you’ll actually stand a chance and find a healthy relationship.
Weigh Out Your Standards
Take an honest look at the standards that you’ve set for dating, relationships, and even for yourself. Write them down.
Then think about whether they’re genuinely realistic and attainable, or whether they were formed out of your insecurities, unresolved issues, and romanticized notions. The more realistic you truly feel they are, the less worried you’ll be about chasing them.
Set Up Public Dates In Places You’ve Been Before
It’s hard to find the motivation to go on first dates over and over again, not knowing if they could be a serial killer or if you’ll have to sit through 90 minutes of awkward silence.
To ease your mind, choose a location you’re already familiar with and where you feel comfortable. It’ll put you in your element.
Be Conscious Of The Wiring Of Your Thoughts
It might be to hard make this conscious effort, but be aware of the negative thoughts going through your mind. Take each negative thought and consciously rewire it into a positive one. For example, instead of saying, “He’ll be like all the others,” force yourself to think something like, “maybe I’ll finally meet the person that changes my mind.”
Eventually, by training your brain this way, it’ll start to do it on its own.
Identify Your Attachement Style
The experiences we have growing up cause us to get attached to people differently. Some of us prefer to completely avoid people in order to avoid getting hurt, while some of us hold tightly to even those who hurt us.
Understanding which style fits your experience will make you aware of your actions and allow you to control your interactions so that you only attach yourself to the people who deserve it.
Accept Yourself For Who You Are
Accepting that you’re human and are going to make mistakes gives you the freedom to take risks. Focus on your sense of self-acceptance and self-worth, because once you feel comfortable with it, you won’t feel too intimidated to share it with others.
When you feel good about what you have to offer, you won’t fear how others judge you.
When You Think Of The Worst-Case Scenario, Think Of The Best
Avoid extreme worst-case scenario thoughts, like the thought that no one will ever love you if this person rejects you, or that you’ll just end up alone anyway so there’s no point in trying.
Instead, try to remind yourself that this is your anxiety talking and preventing you from possibly reaching the best-case scenario. Like, what if this next date is the beginning of the rest of your life?
Analyze Your Past Relationships
A lot of the anxiety surrounding dates is rooted in your past experiences. You feel like you might be the cause or trigger of relationships going wrong, maybe for being too much or not enough.
If you look, you’ll see that the blame isn’t on you. There are a million reasons relationships don’t work out.
Determine If The Risk’s Worth The Reward
Almost nine times out of 10, it is. Every time you make yourself vulnerable to a new partner, you’re taking a huge risk. However, that risk could be what leads you to a meaningful, rewarding, and lasting partnership.
If the relationship doesn’t work out, there’s usually still a reward in the form of the lessons you take away.
If You’re Not A Psychic, You Can’t Predict The Future
This isn’t an invitation to go get a tarot card reading. You have to trust that the future will play out in the way it’s meant to somehow.
You basically have two options when it comes to dating: either you don’t do it and your life stays exactly how it is, or you do it and go on an adventure with an unknown series of events.
Avoid Coffee Before A Date
Coffee has been proven to increase cortisol levels. Consuming just one cup can create the same amount of cortisol that you would feel under extreme stress. Caffeine can be responsible for recreating stress conditions in your body.
Keep Your Expectations Low
It would be nice for love to be a Hallmark movie and to meet a prince who shows you that you don’t even need their castle to be happy.
The less you expect of what the relationship “should be like,” the more surprised you’ll be at what you do get (and you’ll be less likely to be disappointed).
Tell Them About Your Anxiety
You’re probably thinking there’s no way you could tell your date about your anxiety without making them run the other way. However, you’d be surprised that some studies found telling your date about your anxiety could be a bonding moment.
Plus, think of it this way: if they feel overwhelmed by your anxiety, you’re probably getting rid of a wrong match early on anyway.
What You Put Out Is What You Receive
Don’t let your anxiety be the cause of the results you’re anxious about. Often, if you think a date is going badly, it’s because you’ve convinced yourself and want to believe it.
You do this because you’re projecting, meaning you are just amplifying your anxieties and bringing them out into the world.
Go To Your Date Prepared
The more you feel prepared, the more you’ll feel in control of the situation. Pretend it’s a presentation and look up some conversation prompts in advance.
Take comfort in knowing that people love to talk about themselves, so as long as you have a variety of open-ended questions, you’ll be avoiding any of the awkwardness you worry about.
Tap Into Your Physical Senses To Stay In The Moment
If you start to feel anxious during a date and catch your mind wandering and overthinking, try tapping into your physical senses so that you can bring yourself back to the present moment.
Take notice of what can you see, what you can hear, smell, and taste. Those details should center you again.
Ask Instead Of Assuming
Rather than driving yourself crazy trying to guess how they feel about you or the date, just ask them. It’s okay to seek some sort of validation as you find balance that doesn’t end up putting all the responsibility of reassuring you on the other person.
Plus, chances are they’re wondering how you feel just as much.
Find Your Relaxation Technique
If you get down to the science, a lot of anxiety is a cortisol imbalance. So there are ways to trick your body into restoring some balance and counteracting the stress response.
There’s a technique for everyone, from deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, to aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, and music therapy. Find the one that you can claim, and resort to it when you’re feeling anxious.
Build Your Own Toolbox For Managing Anxiety
Anxiety may feel like it’s out of your control, but there are ways for you to tame it every time it arises if you build the right toolbox. Rather than feeling like a complete victim to it and letting it ruin your love life, talk to yourself.
Establish your boundaries and your preferred methods of communication and honor them.
Congratulate And Reward Yourself
Just like with any daunting task, choose a reward that you’ll only allow yourself if you actually go through with the date. That way, even if the date goes terribly, you still have your reward to look forward to.
This is also a great way to congratulate yourself for the effort of putting yourself out there without discouraging you from doing it again.
Just Do Your Best
All you can do is your best. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in trying to tame your anxiety or it could have the opposite effect.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, either, in the instances that it takes over, because once you meet the right person, they’ll be able to adapt to your ways of thinking and feeling, rather than making you feel bad for them.