A level of nervous energy when dating is typical. Panic, trembling, shortness of breath, difficulty thinking, nausea and having a panic attack isn’t. However, it’s the reality for many people who have anxiety. Depending on the degree of anxiety, it can feel debilitating and keep them from dating.
The good news is, there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms of dating anxiety.
It starts with knowing what it is, trying strategies to improve it, and maybe speaking to a mental health professional.
Why People Experience Dating Anxiety
First, it’s important to note that while anxiety is an official medical condition, dating anxiety isn’t. It is, however, a common term coined to describe the anxious feelings associated with dating.
Dating anxiety can occur for many reasons, including:
- Overall anxiety: Perhaps a person has anxiety in many areas of their lives. In this case, it makes sense that it would also occur when dating.
- Past experiences: Previous trauma, especially related to relationships – including abandonment and rejection – can lead to dating anxiety
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD): When a person has SAD, various social situations can bring up these anxious feelings.
- Health issues: Both physical and mental health conditions can lead to embarrassment or fear of judgment causing more anxiety when dating
Anxiety vs. Dating Jitters
Anxiety and dating jitters can have common symptoms. Sweating, muscle tension, excessive worrying and difficulty concentrating are all typical with dating jitters.
However, your jitters should decline throughout the course of your date.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a chronic condition. If you have anxiety, your symptoms will linger or resurface depending on the trigger. Also, the type of anxiety disorder you have can impact this.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can look and feel different for everyone. There are common symptoms though. Once you learn your triggers and how it feels you can better manage it.
Here are some common anxiety symptoms:
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble focusing
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing digestive problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Whatever your symptoms are, know that many people do ease them with the right treatment. Various options are available, including medication and therapy.
1. Date for Yourself
Some people date for fun, others do so seeking lifelong partnership. There’s another less healthy reason people date – to be happy. Dating should not be used to fuel your happiness or make yourself feel whole. Amir Marashi, MD, gynecologist and relationship & sex expert states, “…butterflies to go on a date because your date is cute is different from having butterflies because you wonder if this is the one that’s going to save you.”
When you date with the hope that someone will save you, you’re coming from an unhealthy place. There’s also a greater likelihood of letdown in the process.
2. Be Positive
Go into your dating experience with a positive attitude. Don’t have unreal expectations that you’ll find the love of your life each time you go to dinner. That can be disappointing. Just focus on being present at the moment and enjoying yourself.
If you enter the situation thinking about all the things that could go wrong, you’re not allowing yourself to find joy in the experience.
Practicing positive self-talk can help you combat those negative ideas that creep into your mind.
Incorporating positive affirmations, and even complimenting yourself are ways to practice positive self-talk.
3. Date When You’re Ready
Going out on a date before you’re ready can backfire. Marashi states, “…just going through a break-up, grieving and trying to depend on someone to take that pain away or distract you…these are all unstable emotions and feelings. Any let down or disappointment could be exaggerated and taken out on your dating experience, when in reality you have some personal issues you need to work on.”
The dating anxiety you experience will not improve if you don’t work on yourself first. In reality, putting yourself out there before you’re ready and being let down can heighten your feelings and keep you in a negative spiral.
4. Be Honest
It might feel embarrassing to admit, but sharing you have anxiety with your date can help take some of the pressure off the situation.
You never know, your date might also have anxiety or be more mindful about how you interact with each other.
5. Prepare for Your Date
If part of your anxiety around dating is not knowing what to do or say, take a few moments to prepare. Having talking points and questions can help the experience feel less overwhelming.
6. Talk to a Professional
Working with a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist can help you learn to manage your anxiety symptoms with coping strategies. Overtime, you can develop new ways to meet people and date that feels healthy.
Since stress, other mental health conditions and trauma are risk factors for anxiety, you can also address anything else you’re going through or have experienced.
Once you have an anxiety diagnosis, your therapist or doctor can develop a treatment plan. The purpose of the treatment plan will be to help you manage your emotions, become more self-aware and develop a strong sense of self.
The most common treatments include therapy and medication. There are several treatment options for both, including cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy and psychotherapy.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Quiana Darden is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, finance, wellness, education and recent events. She currently lives in Virginia with her fiancé, daughter and their four-legged furry son.