Social anxiety makes all relationships difficult, but it can make dating a mess. If you struggle with social anxiety, following these tips can make your dating life easier.
Anxiety Dating Tip 1: Make an Explicit Plan
Approaching the unknown is difficult for those with anxiety. Prevent your fear of the unknown from throwing you off your game by making an explicit plan for any scenario you could imagine happening during a date.
For example, where will the two of you meet? Decide on a firm time, date, and landmark for your meeting spot. How will you identify each other? Dating apps make it easy to get to know how someone looks before you meet them in person. If you have anxiety, though, that may not be enough to soothe your worries leading up to the date. Communicate with each other what you’re wearing ahead of time to make it easier!
If you are confident in the plan you’ve made for your date but still anxious, try coming up with plans in case the date goes wrong. I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve found that it is best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst with dating. Think about contingency plans you can rely on in case something goes awry (especially for first dates)!
- Sharing your location on your phone with someone you trust. This way someone will always know where you are and that you’re safe.
- Is there a friend who lives nearby you can go to in case your date goes sideways? Tell them ahead of time you may come by later if you need an escape hatch from your date.
- Make a plan with another friend to call you halfway through your date. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. Take five minutes to process how you feel about your date with someone you trust.
Creating plans of action like this ahead of time solves any potential problems you could expect and soothes anxiety. You cannot control everything that happens on your date, but you can control how you handle the situation.
Anxiety Dating Tip 2: Build Self-Confidence
Anxiety is your brain thinking distorted thoughts and convincing you they are true. Without recognizing and reframing distorted thoughts, people with anxiety can suffer from low self-esteem or a negative opinion of themselves. This makes dating challenging because low self-esteem can cause anxiety over your feelings of worth and attractiveness.
If you feel unworthy or unattractive, you may try too hard to get someone to like you by acting like someone you’re not. This approach to dating sets you up for failure from the start. If your anxiety makes you act differently while dating, what will happen when you act like you are genuine later on in a relationship? Which version of you did your partner fall in love with?
Confidently embracing your genuine, unique, individual self is the only way to know if your date likes you. Working on improving your self-esteem will help you beat back the voice of your anxiety and embrace yourself for who you are.
Anxiety Dating Tip 3: Be Honest!
Part of embracing who you are includes being honest about anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, it most likely affects every aspect of your life. The easiest way to help others connect with you is by opening up to them about your anxiety. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I know it is difficult to talk about anxiety.
There are many unfair stigmas about mental health, and you can’t always tell what implicit biases your date may have. If the person you are dating has negative opinions about anxiety sufferers, though, do you really want to date them?
Here are some ideas for approaching your anxieties with the person you are dating:
- Discuss specific thought distortions you have about your relationship. Explain to your dating partner what a thought distortion is, and how you know your brain is lying to you. Allow your dating partner to help you reframe your thought distortions and come up with affirmations for you to think in replace of the negative thoughts. This doubles down on improving your self esteem by affirming why your partner cares about you too!
- Explain to your partner what triggers your anxiety, and what anxiety attacks feel like. Explaining the situation from your perspective helps your dating partner build empathy for you. Dating someone who can empathize with your anxiety creates emotional safety in your relationship.
- Talk to the person you’re dating about ways they can support you with your anxiety. Anxiety sufferers often fear being a burden to the ones they love, but our loved ones want to help us when we’re struggling! Therefore, giving your dating partner concrete action steps to help you cope with your anxiety sets your relationship up for success, regardless of your personal struggles with mental health.
Some days it feels like doing almost anything with anxiety is impossible. However, your anxiety is not a barrier to a healthy dating life! Dating with anxiety is much like doing anything else with anxiety; it takes self awareness and a willingness to put the work in managing your symptoms.
Your anxiety is not a barrier to a healthy dating life! Dating with anxiety is much like doing anything else with anxiety; it takes self-awareness and a willingness to manage your symptoms. Put conscious effort into reframing your thought distortions, adopt practices that boost your self-esteem, and engage in structured problem solving, and managing your anxiety will become easier all around.
Have more questions about your dating life? Ask Renea!