If you've ever had shaky hands or felt like you were about to toss your cookies before a first date, know these kinds of nerves are par for the course, especially when it comes to meeting IRL if you connected online. But if you get dating anxiety so severe that it can prevent you from showing up — even if you want to — know that you aren't alone in that either. And there are ways to do the whole dating thing on your terms while honoring your boundaries and anxieties to help you feel safe.
"It's scary to reach out for connection and intimacy especially when you've never met the person or you've been hurt in the past," trauma-focused counselor Maryann W. Mathai, LPCC, LMHC, LPC, NCC, who works with people who have difficulty trusting others, tells Bustle. "If your body begins to respond out of fear with panic or anxiety symptoms, there are several tricks you can use to calm yourself down."
Additionally, Mathai says, there are things you can do before and during the date that can help you to get into a more comfortable state of mind. Just remember, the first step of all of it is going at your own pace, no matter what pace that is.