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Dating Anxiety Is Real: Symptoms and How to Overcome It

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It’s normal to feel anxious about dating, especially when you’re meeting the person for the first time. You worry whether you’ll make a good impression and if your date lives up to your expectations. There are also niggling fears of rejection. What if your date doesn’t find you as attractive as you do them? What if you say the wrong things? What if they find you weird?

It’s okay to wonder about these things. If, however, your fears are getting ahead of you and preventing you from actually going on dates, you might be suffering from dating anxiety.

What Is Dating Anxiety?

Dating anxiety is a subset of social anxiety or the fear you sometimes feel when you’re thrown into unfamiliar or intimidating social situations. Social anxiety is described as the fear of rejection and being judged by others. It becomes a disorder when the fear becomes persistent and affects your ability to function in school, at work, and in everyday activities where you need to out in public.

When you experience social anxiety in a dating situation, you’re experiencing dating anxiety. It may become a problem when your fear intensifies to the point that you call at the last minute to cancel your date.

Signs of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety has physical and physiological symptoms:

It also has behavioral and emotional symptoms, such as:

These symptoms usually don’t appear piecemeal. If you’re experiencing one during social events, you may also be experiencing more. So it should be apparent if you do have social anxiety towards dating.

Ways to Overcome Dating Anxiety

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) acknowledges various treatment methods for social anxiety disorder. These are medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support groups.

Medications for social anxiety need a doctor’s prescription. Self-medication should never be an option: the wrong prescription and dose could be harmful to your health.

Other Coping Methods

Sometimes small adjustments to your date can help reduce your anxiety and save you a visit to your psychotherapist.

Since the root of social anxiety is fear, avoid surprise dates. Take part in planning your date and suggest things to do that are within your comfort zone. You can recommend having dinner at your favorite restaurant, for example, then go to places that are familiar and comfortable.

Another option is to have a double date and invite a close friend whom you know can help you relax the entire time.

Finally, Psychology Today offers a useful tip: be curious about the person you’re dating. This is to shift your focus from yourself to the other person. When you are curious about your date, you think less about what you feel and focus more on their words, behavior, and character. Curiosity is a good thing to practice because it reinforces the purpose of dates: to know the other person better and discover if he or she is the one for you.

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