Being nervous about dating is normal, but not when it gets in the way of your happiness. Learn how to get over dating anxiety and get back out there.
As someone who was single and dating for about six years straight, I understand dating anxiety. It is torturous. All you want to do is get out there and meet people, maybe your person, but dating anxiety paralyzes you. You might wonder if it really is possible to learn how to get over dating anxiety.
It makes you cancel dates, forego meeting anyone, and worst of all, it prevents you from taking chances that could truly make you happy.
For years I battled with this anxiety. I was on and off dating apps for four years before meeting anyone because the dating anxiety controlled me.
And the thing is, dating anxiety is very irrational. Sure, there are things about dating that make us nervous and make sense, but the stuff that keeps us from putting ourselves out there is pretty bogus when you think about it.
What is dating anxiety?
Dating anxiety manifests in so many ways and is caused by so many things.
Sure, when it comes to meeting online, you could be nervous about catfishing or being kidnapped, an extreme yet plausible fear. There are also the nerves about being stood up or rejected.
But, then there is the anxiety that makes no sense. You can power through the nerves of dating. Meeting someone new is scary, but when your nerves turn into crippling anxiety that leads you canceling plans every time, you may need some help.
Whether you have social anxiety or going on dates is nerve-racking, we always anticipate the worst. We make negative assumptions about how the date will go.
And what is even worse is the unexplainable anxiety. I chatted with a guy for a couple of weeks a few years ago. We made plans to meet after video chatting. I knew he was who he said he was, and we got along fine.
The day of the date arrived. Although I felt safe and comfortable, my anxiety was through the roof. I considered calling it off all day and ended up doing so. The second I texted him that I couldn’t go, I felt such relief.
I realized my dating anxiety was preventing me from actually dating.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably going through something similar. The unexplained anxiety about dating is so frustrating. Your brain is rational, but the anxiety is not. So, how do you get your feelings and thoughts on the same page when it comes to dating anxiety?
How to get over dating anxiety
Learning how to get over dating anxiety will not happen overnight. It takes practice and time to recalibrate the way you think about dating. Whether you have a fear of being hurt, rejected, or just falling on your face on a first date, rethinking how dating works takes a lot of time.
For years, I went into dating with so many expectations and fears. If I were going to push through the anxiety to go on a date I expected it to be everything I was dreaming of.
I had friends tell me I had to lower my expectations or have none. But, I convinced myself that wasn’t me. I convinced myself that because I had so much anxiety that expectations were the only thing motivating me to go through with a date.
The thing is, those expectations were what was giving me dating anxiety in the first place. Was it hard to let that go? Hell, yes.
I went from expecting a lot from people I dated to expecting nothing. I would anticipate being ghosted or stood up. Then, I would go into a date knowing it wouldn’t work out. Sure, it lessened my anxiety, but it lessened the chances of any good coming from dating too.
It took me years to come to terms with the fact that I needed to be hopeful, but with no expectations. I had to take each date or even dating app chat for what it was, a moment. I would go into chats and dates thinking this could go any way, but all that I have control over is how I react to it. I could let a bad date get to me or I can let it go and move on. I can get overly excited for a mediocre date or just let it be what it is.
And I had to find that balance between letting go of what I wanted to happen, but still maintaining a glimmer of hope to keep me invested and excited.
And, spoiler alert, that way of thinking is what led me to my current relationship that is so healthy and stable.
Changing how you think about dates is an internal battle, but I do have some tips on how to make it easier.
#1 Don’t dwell. For years I let myself rot in the aftermath of being ghosted nonstop. I fell victim to the unknowns and frustrations. I would go on and on about how annoying it was and how it made dating impossible.
The thing is, ghosting and rejections by someone you really don’t know too well is not the end of the world. It says more about that person than it does about you. It took a while for me to realize it, but, instead of mourning those potential relationships, I celebrated the fact that I didn’t end up with a person who could be such a coward.
Instead of dwelling on the bad times, I let it go. Instead of ranting to my friends about how much of a jerk someone was, I just let them go and moved on. It takes practice, but dwelling only feeds that frustrations that leads to anxiety.
#2 Have fun. Dating anxiety prevents us from actually having fun on dates. Whether it is working out or not, enjoy it. Modern-day dating seems more like a job or a cruel joke than a fun social outing, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you take it for what it is, you can enjoy dating. It is when you have expectations that the date fails. Whether you expect the best or the worst, dates usually don’t go how you plan. Just going into it and enjoying it for what it is can help you enjoy every date experience without the dating anxiety.
#3 Try not to overthink. Overthinking leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to overthinking. Even for someone who has a natural instinct to plan and look at every situation from each angle, overthinking never helps.
Whenever I’ve over-thought about the temperature of a restaurant, if I should look cute or comfy, and if I should have an emergency text ready to send to a friend, it only increased my anxiety.
Instead, keep yourself busy up until the date. Occupy your mind with something productive so that your anxiety doesn’t creep up and overtake you.
#4 Stay open. This was the hardest part for me. As someone who faced so much dating anxiety and knew what my end goal was, it was difficult to stay open to other possibilities. I didn’t want to settle. I knew dating for me was a step towards a relationship.
Going into a date with someone that wasn’t sure what they wanted terrified me. Why risk catching feelings for someone when we may want different things? Well, openness to other possibilities may help you realize what you wanted really wasn’t what you needed.
I dated someone who wanted the same things as me from day one, but it freaked me out. He wanted a fast and serious relationship; although, that’s what I thought I wanted it freaked me out how into it he was so quickly.
After that, I changed my mindset. Instead of having a relationship be the goal, I had happiness be my goal. I then met my current boyfriend. We both said eventually we wanted a relationship but weren’t in a rush or closed off to anything else.
Within three months, we were in a happy relationship, and I never felt rushed or uncomfortable.
Don’t settle. For example, if you know down the road you want a relationship and you meet someone that knows they only want something casual, in the long run it won’t work. But if you are both open to what feels right, it could be the best thing.
With time, patience, and a bit of thought, you can learn how to get over dating anxiety and get back out there with the right mindset.