5 Science-Backed Ways to Beat Your Dating Anxiety

Science Backed Ways to Beat Dating Anxiety

Dating anxiety can happen to all of us even if we don’t normally have anxiety.

There are so many variables when you’re meeting someone completely new on a first date. You start to think about what the other person thinks about you, and how you’re coming across to them. At the same time, you also start to evaluate if you like them enough, how you’re going to end the date, and if there’s going to be the next date.

You get the gist.

Sometimes calming your dating anxiety is just taking a deep breath, casting those thoughts aside, and moving on with your date.

But for some of us, dating anxiety can be crippling and cause us to avoid dating completely. If you want to take that step to put yourself out there but fear doing so because of your dating anxiety, we have five science-backed ways you can try, to cope with it.

1. Set aside time for worrying

This might sound counterproductive, but we’re saying it’s okay to be anxious and to worry about how the date might turn out. Your worries are valid. But if you start getting too worried or anxious then that could be paralyzing or even cause some physical symptoms like insomnia or a migraine.

So what do you do?

You acknowledge your dating struggles and anxiety, but during a set period of time in your day, around 20 minutes. This is a technique that psychologists recommend — putting aside some time to work through things that we’re worrying about.

What you can do is fully use this time to acknowledge the feelings of dating anxiety, why they came up, and to not be too hard on yourself for it.

Often this does help you put your worries and anxieties into perspective, and to realize that some of the concerns you had weren’t really issues at all. Best part, after the designated worrying time, you get a free pass to not revisit those worries for at least a day.

It isn’t going to happen immediately, but you’ll get better at worrying a bit more effectively and not allow it to consume you, pre or post-date.

2. Have a worry/anxiety box

Woman sitting on the window and writing in a dairy

If your Uber is arriving in 10 minutes to bring you to your date, and you are panicking hard still, write those thoughts down.

Grab a small piece of paper or a post-in and write down what you’re worried about, your concerns and your fears about the date. Next, find a box in your room. You can pick something fancy or you could just use a plain container.

Next, place that piece of paper in the box, and remind yourself that once you’ve written down that worry and put it in there, you have ‘deposited’ it and you turn your attention back to the upcoming date.

Again this isn’t going to be easy at the start and you might find your mind still drifting to those anxious thoughts, but when you write them down and put it in the box, you are consciously making a decision to let that anxious thought go. And that itself is a start.

3. Reframe worst-case scenarios

Often we worry because we think of the worst-case scenarios. We think, what if they don’t like me? What if I embarrass myself on the date? What if they don’t think I’m funny? And we get anxious because it can feel like the end of the world because someone doesn’t like you back, or if you embarrass yourself in front of someone you do fancy quite a bit. You might feel like you’re not good at dating, you’re not likable, and you start to wonder if you’ll ever find love. Yes, these situations could happen. But hold on, are the subsequent statements true? When you find yourself anticipating the worst possible outcome, allow yourself to acknowledge that it could happen. There could be awkward silences or your date might seem disinterested. But, let’s take a step back and reframe this worst-case scenario — what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t ask you on a second date. Does it mean you are bad at dating, you’re not likable or that you’ll never find love? No, it doesn’t. It just means that this one person did not like you back, and you might not find love with this one person. But take heart, it does not mean you’ll never find anyone, just not this one.

4. Practicing mindfulness

Woman doing meditation on the bed

Anxiety often presents itself when you worry about what will go wrong in the future, or when you start analyzing what you did in the past, such as what you said and what you texted.

Instead of looking at the past and the future, try to quell your dating anxiety by practicing mindfulness. A study of close to 20,000 mediation studies showed that mindful meditation can help with psychological stresses such as anxiety, depression and pain.

When you practice mindfulness, you are making an effort to focus on the present and to be in the moment now.

Some apps you could use to help you with this include Calm or Headspace. These typically include a daily guided mindfulness meditation, or provide soothing, relaxing music for you to practice mindfulness to.

5. Breathe

Woman is doing yoga breathing exercises at home
Quite literally yes, breathe. But if normal breathing doesn’t help, then try some breathing exercises to calm yourself down. Studies have shown that simple breathing exercises help you reduce your stress both immediately and in the long term. When you are anxious, the part of your brain that typically does the rational thinking is impaired so it may be hard to be logical about your fears. When you pause and change your breathing pattern, you can also change the way you’re thinking and feeling because your brain associates different emotions with different forms of breathing. So if you’re stressed, you will take short, quick breaths. But when you’re relaxed, such as when you’re falling asleep, your breath slows down and gets deeper. So when you change your breathing pattern, you could also reap the benefits of the emotions associated with that breathing pattern. So the next time, someone tells you to breathe, don’t just take that one deep breath, but give yourself at least a few deep, and slow breaths and let your mind and body do the work in helping you feel a little more relaxed.

Dating anxiety is very real and you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you do worry about dating or meeting a stranger. It takes immense courage to put yourself out there when you can’t be sure or control the outcome and we get that it can sometimes cause a lot of stress. But we hope these methods have helped you manage some of that anxiety, and that you’ll be able to step out and show the world how much you have to offer. You got this!

Sarah C.

Sarah C.

Sarah C. is a writer from Singapore, who runs on caffeine. She loves a good rom-com and considers 10 Things I Hate About You her all-time favorite. Her dating pet peeves are those who are rude to waiters, and those who can't stop looking at their phones.

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