Being anxious is something that we all feel, but for those with social anxiety, many things that we take for granted are difficulty and, at times, impossible. One of those things that often feels impossible is dating. After all, if meeting new people and going to new situations is terrifying for you, then imagine dating. See where this makes sense? If you are someone who is suffering from social anxiety and looking for a way to get into the dating world, here are some great tips to help you do just that.
Whether it’s before or after the date, exercise is a great way to deal with the panic and stress that often accompanies anxiety. You can enjoy a run after the date and work through everything that happened. Likewise, you can also burn off extra nervous energy before your date at the gym. Use exercise as a coping tool however it works best for you. It’s a great option and will really motivate you to stay healthy, too!
Meet in a common place
The best way to tackle the terror of meeting someone at a cafe is to go somewhere that you are familiar with. This will give you control and you know that when you walk in, you’ll know where the counter is, what the place sounds like, and maybe even the people that will be working. This will really help you get in tune with what you need to do in order to make sure that you succeed on the date and keep yourself calm whatever that may mean for you in particular.
On that same note, arrive early if it makes you feel in control. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t arrive too early, otherwise you’ll overthink everything and stress yourself out even more. 10 minutes is the sweet spot.
Don’t hide your feelings
If you are stressing out and panicking in the middle of a situation with your date, tell him/her about it. Seriously, odds are they will understand, and you’ll feel much better about it because you don’t have to hide your panic any longer. It’s terrifying to confide in someone about your weakness – which it isn’t, by the way – but it will really make things smoother, and s/he may even be panicking too, you never know! Have some faith and remember that s/he wants to know that you’re okay and having a good time, too!
Don’t give up
If something bad happens and you panic or entirely freak out, sending you to the restroom in a hurry, don’t leave. Don’t give up and back out. Calm yourself down and return to your doubt with confidence. Fake it til you make it if you have to, but make sure you show back up to your date and try again. It’ll show you how strong you are, and it will also show him/her that you really care about them. This is something you need to do no matter how hard it may seem at the time. We are all rooting for you!
When panic distracts you, do what you can to stay present. Change the topic, ask him/her questions, whatever. Staying present in the situation can often times make the panic go away completely and allow you enjoy your date. This is definitely something to try if you feel anxiety clawing its way up your throat, which is more common than you would think.
Practice makes perfect
Simple, but true. The more dates that you go on (with the same person, or a different one each time), the easier it gets. Don’t shy away from dates if you have bad ones. Get back out there and jump on that horse again so that you can tackle the demon from the high ground. Remember that you are always stronger than you feel, so trust that your partner will be there for you if you need him/her. You aren’t going on a date with a monster after all, and even if it’s uncomfortable, your date will understand that you’re just having a bad moment and need to calm down. Then, the next time, it’ll be easier to get the anxiety to totally fade into the background. It does get easier with time.
Celebrate every tiny thing
No matter how the date goes overall, celebrate every good thing that happens. Be it shaking his/her hand, holding hands as you walked to and from, or even a goodnight kiss…it doesn’t matter, celebrate it all. You’ll be surprised with all of the good things that will come out of the date itself and you will have accomplished them all yourself. Sometimes – okay, a lot – it’s easy to get trapped in the awkward moments. Pull yourself out of them by enjoying a replay of positive moments only. You’ll absolutely love the fact that you have so many of them.
Social anxiety is a serious life-long condition that impacts many of us, even if we hate to admit it.
Diagnosed or not, you need to remember that you only can do so much on your own. Turn to those around you to help you find the positive moments of each date that you go on, and don’t be afraid to use all sorts of different methods of coping mechanisms if you need to. A date isn’t as scary as we often make it seem, so use the above tips to help you get through some of the hardest bits and try to relax for a bit and have a good time. There was something about this person that attracted your attention in the first place, and vice versa, so have some faith that it will show its head again and you will have a great time, start to finish.
You are brave, strong, independent and lovable. Use that as your mantra as you march into that restaurant and take care of the date. You can do it with the skills that you have, and social anxiety in dating is just one part of your personality, after all. You’ve got this.
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