Aren't you supposed to be full of happy anticipation before a date? Unfortunately, that's not the case for many people. Dating anxiety is real. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to deal with anxiety and start enjoying the process of dating.
Dating anxiety is a mental health condition where feelings of distress and anxiety are triggered by:
Planning or anticipating a date
Seeking or responding to a request to go out on a date
The actual date itself
People who experience dating anxiety may have both physical and psychological symptoms. They may even engage in avoidance to ensure they don't experience these negative feelings. It's not uncommon for people who are anxious daters to consume alcohol in an attempt to "take the edge off".
Sadly, dating anxiety can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of life. People who suffer from this often want to date, and pursue a normal love life. Unfortunately, their anxiety prevents this.
Dating anxiety is a form of social anxiety. However, it is a bit more complicated. First, not every person who experiences anxiety when dating has social anxiety in other contexts. Still, it helps to treat these and other anxiety disorders seriously. Someone who struggles with anxiety over dating has a valid condition, and the right to be concerned about getting better.
Do you feel as if the dating scene is something that everybody but you is experiencing? This anxiety disorder can certainly be isolating. You may have had some of the following experiences due to being socially anxious over dating:
Faked sick or an emergency to get out of a date
Refused a first date invitation with somebody you really liked
Felt embarrassed at things you said during a date
Inadvertently hurt your date's feelings due to your anxiety
Faked a disinterest in new relationships
Dealt with physical symptoms caused by persistent fear of dating
You aren't alone in this. Dating anxiety is fairly common, and you deserve to experience positive, intimate relationships.
So, what can you do to help yourself? You may be feeling hopeless at the present moment, but the truth is that any anxious person can take some steps to battle the negative thoughts and patterns associated with this anxiety.
Here's the problem. Your anxiety creeps up because you think you aren't good enough or interesting enough. In response to your self-doubt, you are tempted to put on a fake personality, or simply go along with whatever the other person says or does. After all, if you just reflect their interests and tastes, you won't risk embarrassing yourself or feeling inadequate.
Stop it! This doesn't work. You'll only feel worse about yourself. Instead, make a commitment to being yourself. You will feel much more authentic, and won't worry about keeping up a persona while dating. It's hard at first, but a strategy that pays off over time.
Sometimes, you feel socially anxious for a good reason. It could simply be a lack of compatibility or interest on your part or theirs. Accept this as a normal part of dating, not anything negative about your personality or worth. Pay attention to your own thoughts and reactions while getting to know the other person. If things aren't clicking, don't ramp up your anxiety. Instead, bring the date to a cordial, pleasant ending and stop second-guessing yourself.
Here, we aren't talking about physical safety. Although, that is important too. Instead, we are talking about the importance of setting up dating experiences that feel safe and comfortable for you while keeping your anxiety disorder in mind.
For example, if you are nervous about a lot of one on one conversations, suggest a movie or a group date. Try to arrange for a daytime date away from places that serve alcohol if you get anxious in crowded clubs or bars.
Don't worry about possible scrutiny when it comes to your choices and boundaries. It is your right to choose a social situation that works for you.
Does your anxiety disorder lead to physical symptoms? That nausea and headache could be caused by rapid breathing. Even subtle changes in your breathing can make a big difference. Try some breathing exercises when feelings of anxiety ramp up.
First, pay attention to how you breathe. Remember that your abdomen should expand when you inhale, not your chest. This indicates that you are using your diaphragm correctly. This is commonly referred to as deep breathing.
Now, try square breathing. This is a technique that combines awareness as you focus on your breathing with a practice that prevents hyperventilation. To do this, you breathe in through your mouth for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, exhale through your nose for four seconds, and finally hold for another four. It takes practice, but it is worthwhile.
Positive affirmations are a way to replace fear with something better. Write down and repeat some brief yet positive statements about yourself and self-worth.
A positive intention is like an affirmation. However, it is related to a single event. In this case that would be going out on a date with someone. Simply put, you come up with some positive outcomes that you want to achieve during a date. This way, you have something to work on. Just don't use something overwhelming like starting a long-term relationship.
Here are some examples of positive intentions in social situations:
I'm going to enjoy a great dinner.
I'll get to see a movie with my favorite actor.
I'm going to practice making conversation without getting overwhelmed
I will enjoy playing video games and listening to music during this group date
The more positive things you intend to accomplish the better.
As a whole, the adult population engages in more navel-gazing than is healthy. This means they overanalyze and become too fixated on their feelings at any given moment. This can lead to an inability to cope and a sort of paralysis that actually makes struggling worse. Don't spend too much time obsessively focusing on what you are thinking and feeling.
Try taking your mind off of your negative feelings for a bit. Instead, focus on the experience, getting to know the other person, and engaging in whatever planned activities you are doing on your date. This is very good practice for being an active participant in relationships instead of being paralyzed by fear.
All of this anxiety can leave you feeling as if you don't have anything positive to offer in a dating relationship. You might clam up or give one-word answers. That ends up creating a feedback loop where you perceive you are boring, and that's the experience you create.
Try to plan ahead and think of some positive things to contribute to making dating conversations interesting. Think of some open-ended questions to ask. Do you have interesting hobbies, or have you read any recent articles that might kick off a good conversation?
It's okay if you aren't a natural at spontaneous conversation. You can do a bit of planning so you don't have to fear running out of things to say.
Should you have your anxiety medically reviewed and seek professional help? You absolutely should if your depression becomes overwhelming, or you find that you struggle to cope in these social situations. If anxiety is making it difficult for you to start dating or find a relationship, it's time to get help. This isn't just about dating, it's living the life you deserve.
There are so many things that can cause you to struggle with dating. You could fear rejection, have past trauma, or simply struggle with navigating the dating process along with your emotions. Getting help can do wonders for your mental health, and take the first step towards learning how to understand your emotions, remain calm, and actually enjoy the experience of dating.
Admittedly there is no such medication for dating anxiety. However, there are plenty of options for those who wish to gain control of their anxiety disorders. If you wish to take these medications, you may be tempted to take advice from a friend or order an anti-anxiety medication from an online pharmacy. Don't do it. Get with a specialist who can analyze your symptoms and overall mental health and provide you with the best choice and dosage.
And don't get more anxious if one medication doesn't work. It's common. Just stick with that specialist while other options are explored. That medical specialist can track your progress and any possible side effects.
There is a number of reasons why a medication may not work for you. Your body may simply require something a bit different. Or perhaps you have a mild allergy to it as well. Just remember that medication is constantly improving, so if there isn't anything for you now, there might be something for you at another point in time. Just don't go it on your own.
For some, finding help is difficult because they feel as though nobody else in the world is dealing with the same problems they are currently facing. Admitting you need help or support is always hard to admit, but it is a vital step. If you consider this option just remember that when you go to support groups you are likely going to be surrounded by others who share the same feelings as you and even have tips and ideas on how to be more comfortable.
Many mental health issues such as anxiety disorders tend to stem from previous issues. Perhaps you are more afraid of rejection than anything else so you tend to shut yourself away. Or maybe you find yourself struggling to meet new people because you felt like you were genuinely uncared for during some important years of your life?
Therapy is a wonderful option for those with anxiety as it gives them a chance to speak with a professional one-on-one. By taking the time to speak to said professionals they will not only figure out ways to control the anxiety, but why the anxiety disorder exists in the first place.
This is a popular method that many therapists and psychologists tend to suggest. Essentially if you choose to take this path then you make yourself responsible for your mental health. For example, if you decide to use a self-health plan you will be responsible for using and creating strategies in order to help your mental wellbeing.
For many people, self-help plans can be difficult as most of the work is up to you. You are essentially responsible for keeping track of things such as triggers and warning signs, your personal wellbeing, as well as the recovery that you may require.
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