Going on a date can be an exciting, yet nerve-wracking experience; however, date anxiety does not have to take away from the joy that comes with meeting someone new. There are some practical steps that can be taken to reduce the anxiety associated with dating and make the experience more enjoyable. In this blog post, we'll be discussing how to eliminate date anxiety effortlessly, so you can get on with enjoying your night and the exciting future that could lie ahead.
1) The Psychology Behind Date Anxiety Date Anxiety is not a separate version of anxiety simply a situation in which you are more likely to feel anxiety, very much like a job interview. Dates are perceived as situations where you are likely to be scrutinised or judged by a prospective new partner and that mindset adds a lot of pressure to the occasion, however, there are ways to reduce your anxiety level both short term (to help you get through it) and long term (to make you more confident in the future) and we’ll cover both of these. Medical news today highlighted that a “2021 study suggested that people with dating anxiety may fear being rejected and rejecting others. People with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) may not feel comfortable meeting new people or engaging in social situations, which could cause them to avoid dating.”
Let me first say there is absolutely no reason why someone with any mental illness including anxiety disorders can’t find a partner. You may feel more often than others that it’s harder to find someone due to anxiety but that absolutely does not mean you won’t! I myself have had the “no one is going to want someone like me!” conversation with friends before and I managed to come out of it so you can too! It’s about defeating those dark places and not letting them consume you. Everyone has something to bring to the table and wouldn’t it just be boring if we were all the same?
2) You aren’t alone
"eharmony has partnered with Married at First Sight UK relationship expert Mel Schilling to conduct a study of 2,000 people that found two-thirds (64%) of singles say they get first date nerves, while six in 10 (61%) find first dates more stressful than public speaking."
The more we learn about mental illness and anxiety specifically the more we realise that EVERYONE has suffered at times from its grasp. There is a good chance that the person sitting across the table from you is feeling it too.
Anxiety can be a very lonely disorder and you may feel like you are the only one who has ever felt this way, but as you walk through a busy shopping centre and you are fighting to hide the anxiety you are feeling, in hopes of looking “normal” how do you know the people that are walking right past you aren’t doing the same thing?
Dating is nerve-wracking for everyone, we are pushed out of our comfort zones and put on display! And as I’ve previously mentioned in another blog “control and judgement” a lot of anxiety disorders are embedded in these two components.
When on a date you seem to have less control, over the conversation, the person sitting across from you as well as the judgement aspect of whether or not you are saying the right thing or looking the right way. The chances are high that they are feeling the same way, so you might want to focus on easing their anxiety, to lessen your own.
Communication really is a great tool to build bridges and make connections.
3) Short-term date night anxiety tips
In the short term you probably just want to be able to leave your house and get through the night without a hitch, so here are some things you can do to reassure yourself:
Allow time for yourself beforehand. Take a moment with yourself before going anywhere to just feel what you are feeling. Try and release some of that pressure by allowing yourself some time with yourself.
Look like you. You probably want to make a good impression, but the best advice I ever heard was “wear something comfortable if you look uncomfortable people will sense it” You don’t want to be worried about pain or fidgeting, whether something is too tight or “showing” too much when you are just trying to focus on your date. Be you, you might want to fancy something up a little but if you seem uncomfortable it will likely increase your anxiety and that will be visible to the person you are with.
Be prepared. If you are worried “something” might happen when you are out on your date, keeping supplies or comforts close to you, in a bag or a pocket can ease your stress and keep you in the moment rather than fixating on “what ifs” cause you are already prepared for them.
Trust your senses, not your mind. If you begin to feel a little overwhelmed try a bit of mindfulness, if you are unable to do this right there and then, you can always excuse yourself for a couple of minutes. Try and focus on your senses, what you hear, smell, see etc.. these grounding techniques can bring you back into the moment and leave you feeling calmer overall.
4) Long-term tips
It is completely normal to be anxious before and during a date but when you are in “fight or flight” mode continuously this is referred to as an anxiety disorder.
Identify who you are. One of the best things you can do to overcome an anxiety disorder is to get to know who you are. Understanding your condition and who you are apart from it will give you back a sense of self away from what you believe anxiety has shaped you into. You may get to a stage in your life where you no longer know what are you and what is anxiety. Take some time to be with yourself and don’t rush into dating if it doesn’t feel like it’s the right time. Going into dating with a sense of confidence in what you want, who you are and what you expect is a much more balanced place to be and you’ll likely find your overall anxiety is reduced when it comes to it.
Identify the reasons you feel anxious about doing on a date. Try jotting down some of the anxieties you might have felt from a previous relationship and reflect on whether they have affected your mindset and how you might overcome them. By finding out the root causes of your anxiety, as well as highlighting what you want for yourself in the future, you may find you are more confident going into dating.
Comminate your anxieties. This will likely build trust with the person you are sharing the date with and also give you a sense of relief. The more understanding you have about yourself and your condition the more concise you can be with a partner and you might find it puts their anxieties at ease too.
You can practice communication prior to dating with a therapist, or friend, and self-communication within a journal.
Put a positive spin on it. It’s not always the easiest thing to do when you have an anxiety disorder but it can be learnt. You may want to practice a form of meditation prior to dating, which teaches you to acknowledge when your thoughts have drifted into a negative cycle and bring yourself back into a positive mindset. Instead of concentrating on negative outcomes, try seeing the positive ones too.
If you are on a date and you start to drift into worry, start trying to find the positives instead, by concentrating on when they smiled or shared memory with you. There are always positives to find, but we tend to overlook them. Did they make eye contact with you? Share a truth? Or try and teach you something you didn’t know?
Choose the right date for you! There are obviously some “go-to” locations for dates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be the right atmosphere for you. Lessen your anxiety by selecting the kind of date you want to go on. You can take a bit of control and voice your opinions so you don’t end up silently watching a film for two hours only to come out and say “what did you think?”
If social anxiety is a problem for you, you may not want to go to a busy place or somewhere where you are fixed in a position such as a restaurant or cinema. You could decide bowling or crazy golf are better options to keep your mind engaged.
Take some of the pressure off of dating. If you don’t want to date…don’t. You know when or if the time is right. If you’ve been in and out of relationships you may need to concentrate on yourself and being happy with who you are without a partner before searching for someone new. If you feel pressure from family and friends to “settle down” or “meet someone” try and practice blocking out their negativity. Don’t let yourself be pushed into anything you aren’t ready for. You need to be ok with the decisions you make for yourself and not be guided by someone else’s idea of what your life should look like. If you see pictures on social media of happy couples and family units and you find yourself feeling down, just ask yourself “do I want their life?” the chances are you won’t because their life is not the right fit for you. Remember most of what you see on social media is just what they want you to see.
Exercise regularly. Exercising will put you in a less anxious mindset, you can concentrate on working towards a goal that’s just for you and you may even find you are more body positive and confident in the process.
The goal of heading into a date without stress or anxiety is achievable. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can start to enjoy dates again. Knowing how to eliminate date anxiety means recognizing triggers, building self-confidence, and relaxing your body and mind by making small changes in the hours before the date. Your reward is a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Share this post with someone you know who could use a few tips for reducing date anxiety.