Wirtten by Dr. Carol Morgan
Remember when you were a kid and you had a crush on the popular boy or girl? And you didn’t think that they would ever give you the time of day? I’m sure you can remember that.
We all have crushes in our lives, and along with them comes doubt and anxiety.
But now you’re an adult. So why are you feeling the same old feelings of anxiety as you did when you were in junior high school? Shouldn’t you be over it by now?
No. Absolutely not.
If you find that you get anxious when you are on a date with someone you really like, then you’re not alone. Many people – both men and women alike – feel this way. It’s natural and normal.
That is very important to remember: anxiety is natural and normal.
But let’s face it – no one likes to feel anxious, right? So, what can we do about it?
Well, let’s start by defining exactly what anxiety is, and then later, we’ll talk about how to effectively deal with it.
What is Anxiety?
I’m sure we all think we know what anxiety is because most of us have felt it at one time or another in our lives. Some people live with it on a daily basis, and they are usually thought to have what’s called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This is characterized by a persistent, excessive worrying about everyday events and activities which a person finds difficult to control.
But we’re not talking about everyday anxiety – we’re here to talk about a very specific kind: dating anxiety.
Regardless of what someone feels anxious about – whether it is paying their bills or going out on a date – the feeling is still the same.
Sometimes anxiety is rooted in real problems, such as knowing that you are going to have to score a big sale or lose your job. But other anxiety is just perceived. In other words, it’s a worry that is almost made up in our minds that doesn’t necessarily even really exist. That’s the kind that dating anxiety is all about.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes of anxiety are plentiful, and the specific source of it varies wildly from person to person. But at the core of it lies the perception that we are being threatened in some way.
Back in the cave man days, this anxiety served a good purpose. If we knew we were being threatened by a lion that wanted to make us its next meal, then the anxiety would propel us to run away and save ourselves.
But in today’s society, we are no longer running away from lions.
Now, most people feel anxiety when their emotional or mental stability is being “threatened” – whether it really is or not.
This could be our ego, our self-esteem, and how we generally feel about ourselves.
So, in terms of dating, your anxiety could come from a variety of places. For example:
Thinking you are not attractive enough for your date.
Thinking you don’t have enough money to impress them.
Thinking you are too shy to have an interesting conversation.
Thinking you are too short or too tall.
Thinking your car isn’t nice enough.
Thinking you should be taking them out to a fancy place.
Thinking you won’t have enough to talk about on the date.
Thinking you are out of practice when it comes to dating.
Thinking you don’t know if you should kiss them or not.
Thinking pretty much any other thought that may or may not even be true.
As you can see, the word “thinking” was used for every statement above. That is because that’s all it is – a thought. Thoughts aren’t always rational. And they aren’t always right. You can think something all you want, but it doesn’t make it a reality.
And everything is relative too. For example, maybe you are a man and you feel insecure because you are 5’7” and think you are too short. Well, if you go out with a woman who is 5’10” or taller, then there may be a reason for this thought. On the other hand, they may not really care about your height. But if you go out with a woman who is 5’2”, suddenly you are not so short.
Get my point?
The bottom line here is that once you realize that your anxieties are simply nothing more than thoughts – thoughts that can be changed – then it doesn’t feel so scary.
What Dating and Relationship Anxiety Looks Like
Anxiety in dating and relationships is the fear of being lonely, but sometimes messing up by doing and saying things that just reinforce our fears. You can care too much, yet still act carelessly because of your anxiety.
One of the main challenges that anxiety sufferers face in dating and new relationships is getting their needs met. In other words, they want reassurance, consistency, and accommodating behaviors from the other person. And sometimes this behavior can be seen as being “needy,” which is obviously not the image you want to portray.
Instead, you want to overcome your anxious thoughts and replace them with feelings of confidence. But it all starts with becoming aware of the thoughts running through your head.
We can’t change what we don’t recognize. So, you have to begin with admitting you have anxious thoughts and identifying exactly what they are.
How to Deal with Anxiety When Dating
If you are suffering from dating anxiety, don’t worry! It can be dealt with. You are not doomed to feel negative feelings of anxiousness every time you go out on a date. Here are some tips for how to deal with anxiety.
Keep a Journal.
As I said above, it all starts with identifying why you are anxious. What specific thoughts are causing you this anxiety? Let’s say one of the dominant feelings is that you have just been divorced and you haven’t been out on a date in 20 years. Okay, no problem.
So what? Who cares? It’s not like you’ve never been out on a date, right? I mean, you got married! Just because it’s been a while doesn’t mean you’re going to be “bad” at dating. It’s like riding a bike. You might need to practice a little, but it will all come back to you in time.
As you can see, keeping a journal of your negative thoughts will help you challenge them and turn them into positive ones.
A lot of people think of meditation as kind of “woo-woo” and weird. But meditation is not restricted to Buddhist monks! It’s a very common practice in today’s world that has a lot of health benefits.
Meditating helps slow your breathing and your racing thoughts. You might want to try guided meditation which has music and someone’s voice leading you through it. However you decide to go about it, if you do it regularly (especially right before a date), you will automatically be more calm and collected.
This might sound corny, but there really is scientific evidence to back up that it really works. What you would do is to close your eyes and envision the date(s) in your head. Picture how happy she looks, how confident you feel, and what a great time you are having. Replay it over and over in your mind.
The reason this works is because the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. So, the more you visualize, the more your subconscious will think it’s true. And therefore, you will eventually manifest it as your outside reality. [Read: The absolute worst communication mistakes you might be making (and don’t even know!)]