I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and dating is my greatest trigger. Dating brings up my deepest insecurities and my darkest moments of failure and rejection. I have been ghosted. I have been stood up. I have been strung along. I have had my heart broken. I have felt the gnawing feeling that I'll never find a partner, that I'm not good enough, that I'm not worthy of true love. I've experienced the excruciatingly unbearable moments of an awkward first date. The chaos of my mind matches the chaos of the vast, unpredictable world of dating. “The number one thing that seems to cause dating anxiety the most is the pressure of meeting expectations, whether it's theirs or their dates’,” Certified Matchmaker Marissa Ventura tells Bustle. “People think way too much into first dates as if it were a trip down the aisle!”
Ventura says that if you experience dating anxiety, these thoughts may be running through your head.
- Will they be attracted to me?
- Will I be attracted to them?
- What do I talk about?
- This has to work out, I'm at the age where I need to settle down and have kids.
- What happens if it doesn't work out? I'll never meet someone.
- What if I get so nervous and clam up? They'll never want to go out again.
- Is it too soon to ask if they wants kids and marriage? I hope that my parents would like them. My mom is begging for grandkids.
- Did I plan a good first date?
- Do I kiss? Make a move?
- The end of the night is always so awkward, how should I end it?
I deal with my dating anxiety through mindfulness. I remind myself that I attract the energy that I exude. When I love myself, I attract people who love me and appreciate me. I tune into my feelings and my fears, but I refuse to let them hinder me from living my life. I can't control how my partner acts or how the night will turn out, but I am ultimately responsible for how I let it affect my mood and my mindset.
If you're looking for more ways to deal with dating anxiety, here are how 16 people cope.
1. Isa, 28
"I use online dating."
2. Diana, 22
"I go to singles' mixers with my girlfriends. We laugh, mingle and have fun!"
3. Valerie, 27
"I write my feelings in my diary."
4. Andrew, 25
"I take my dates to spots that I'm familiar with."
5. Helen, 20
"I use positive affirmations. I write down a list of the reasons why I am a good date!"
6. Kyle, 28
"I focus on connecting with my date. I focus on our conversation, on their body language, on engaging with them."
7. Leslie, 22
"I just really focus on what my date is saying. I try to pick up on what they're interested in and I try to bring up fun topics for them."
8. Amelia, 29
"I used to go on blind dates but now I always ask my friends to set me up. It takes away my sense of nervousness because I trust my friend's judgement!"
9. Tabby, 28
"I blast my favorite music while I'm getting ready."
10. Chris, 24
"I think of our date as a learning experience... it's a chance for me to get to know someone new and get more perspective on life."
11. Alyssa, 28
"I go on dates where we're having fun and doing something, not just talking!"
12. Marisol, 28
"I go on double dates with my friends."
13. Ian, 25
"I try to go on a date that involves something we both love... like a concert!"
14. Casey, 28
"I take my dates to group events."
15. Lauren, 27
"I ask my date to plan our date. It takes some pressure off of me and it gives me a jumping point for conversation with them. It's a good way to learn about their favorite food and their interests."
16. Ellen, 20
"I keep it real and I share how I'm feeling. I tell my date that I'm feeling anxiety — in my experience they've all been supportive and we've been able to laugh it off!"
Undoubtedly, dating involves a lot of components that are entirely out of control, and that is a scary thing. Our mind can race with all of the hypothetical, worst-case scenarios that end with catastrophe and disaster. It's important to acknowledge our feelings and figure out what coping methods work best for us.