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Sex + Relationships

How To Cope With Dating Anxiety

What do I say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if they don’t like me? What if I embarrass myself?

Feeling a bit nervous about a dating situation is totally normal. Dating requires a certain amount of vulnerability, and it comes with the risk of getting hurt or being disappointed. Because of the uncertain outcome, people can experience a fair amount of anxiety about their current romantic relationship or the hurdles of pursuing a new one.

Here are some tips to overcome dating anxiety and put yourself out there

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Recognize the symptoms of anxiety

Addressing your own anxiety may be the key to improving your love life. Recognizing and understanding the symptoms of anxiety is the first step towards managing dating anxiety.

It is important to note that you don’t have to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder for anxiety to interfere in your romantic relationship. Everyone is susceptible to day-to-day stress manifesting as worry about a relationship, fear of the dating process or trouble communicating with a partner. Anxiety is different for everyone, and people will experience a different set of anxiety symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), most people experience a combination of psychological and physical symptoms, including:

  • Feelings of nervousness, restlessness or feelings of tension
  • Intense fear, panic or dread
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat or chest pain
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue, weakness or lethargy
  • Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
  • Sleeping problems, such as insomnia
  • Digestive issues, such as nausea
  • Excessive fear of social situations (social anxiety)
  • Trouble functioning in everyday life or carrying out daily activities

Don’t avoid Dating

The intimidation and uncertainty that comes with dating can make dating seem unappealing and could lead to avoidance of meeting new people, as well as a sense of isolation and hopelessness about the prospect of finding a suitable partner.

This is only a temporary solution. Psychcom states that If you’re not certain where to start, think of what you worry about most when it comes to your romantic relationship. How would your best version of yourself address this issue? Chances are, you already have an idea of how to improve the relationship and your own ability to manage anxiety.

Try to enjoy the moment and pay attention to the good parts of dating. Be optimistic, open, and positive. “When you find yourself worrying that things are going badly or that your date isn’t interested, stop yourself,” says Kathy Nickerson, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in couples counseling.

And here’s a tip that has helped me feel more comfortable on dates – tell your date you’re feeling nervous. This will ease your mind, and your date will probably respond positively to your disclosure.

Set boundaries

Boundaries in dating are a person’s limits in a relationship. They allow each person to maintain their needs, space, individuality, and health. Boundaries help you and your partner know your limits and expectations.When you are dating someone, it’s important to make sure you always feel comfortable in the relationship and are being true to who you are.

According to 2016 research, increasing self-disclosure helps alleviate social anxiety and increase the motivation to connect again. This suggests that people should be open and honest about themselves while dating.

  • Decide how you feel
  • Listen to yourself
  • Feel comfortable
  • Communicate with your partner
  • Understand the types of boundaries in a relationship: physical, sexual, emotional, material, intellectual, time.

Focus on the present moment rather than the what-ifs

Being present and in the moment can help you to focus rather than your mind spinning on the what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.

Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a conscious effort to focus on the present moment, the here-and-now. If you connect to the present moment with acceptance rather than judgment, this will lead to greater emotional awareness within yourself.

You might try protecting yourself from reliving past hurt by doubting yourself and doubting the intentions of your partner. Try to hone in on how this new bond enhances your life in the present moment. Maintaining a practice of focusing on all the good stuff the new relationship is adding to your life can help dispel that negative energy and allow you to enjoy the ride—unknowns and all.

Practice self-love

The only way to eventually have a healthy relationship with someone else is to love yourself first.

Learn to love, forgive, and accept yourself to practice self-love. Aim to be patient and kind to yourself, especially if you are nervous about dating. Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Never settle for less than you deserve.

Early relationship anxiety can feel stressful and overwhelming. However, it’s common and can be addressed as long as you identify your triggers and are able to work through your emotions in a healthy way.

Meredith is a recent college graduate and PR professional who loves writing about all things beauty, lifestyle, health, wellness, and pop-culture. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can catch her going on long walks, playing with her two dachshunds, or catching up on her latest TV obsession, Law and Order.