Living with anxiety can be an intimidating process, and dating can seem downright impossible. It may help to know that you aren’t the only one, an estimated 18% of Americans are suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder. There’s a good chance that if you have been in the dating pool for any amount of time you have dated someone with anxiety or may be dealing with it yourself. Here are a few things some of our clients reported helpful regarding dating and anxiety.
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1 – Exposure
The idea of exposure as help with anxiety is common and it applies itself well to the dating environment. Open yourself up in small steps that help acclimate yourself to the idea of going on a date so when you do it is less overwhelming. Go out and enjoy a social activity, force yourself to converse with a stranger without the pressure of a date setting. Whatever small steps make sense for you, will help take you closer to a stress/anxiety free date.
2 – Working Yourself Up
Try not to dwell on the worst that can happen. I know, it isn’t so easy, if people could just ‘not work themselves up’ then this anxiety thing would be handled! But there are some strategies you can use to help keep these negative prophecies to a minimum. Try to replace negative thoughts with positive, ‘Everyone will think I’m weird and anxious’ can be replaced with ‘I’m proud of myself for going out and trying.’ The more often to change the negative narratives in your head the easier it will be to think positively and clearly.
3 – Don’t Try to be a Mind Reader
Stop worrying about what your date thinks about you. It can be easy to get caught up in how people will perceive you. Will he like my dress? Will she think I’m smart? Try focusing less on how you stack up and instead try to determine if your dating is right for you. What do you have in common? Are you having a good time? Take the focus of your insecurities and instead put that energy towards evaluating the quality of your dating experience.
4 – Don’t Obsess over the Details
Obsession and anxiety are close cousins. Remembering every awkward or embarrassing moment can equal hours of lost sleep. Try to fight this. Once the date is over, put it to rest. Try to remember it in terms of how your date made you feel if you had chemistry – not the one time you got spinach stuck in your teeth.
These are just a few tips for dating with anxiety. Obviously, everyone is different and depending on the severity of your anxiety, these steps may not be for you. It’s important to find your own way to make it through and that takes trial and error. Don’t give up!