You’re ready to meet someone—maybe even to fall in love—but the idea of dating leaves you with your heart racing for all the wrong reasons. You’re not alone. Dating makes most people at least a little nervous, and it can even intimidate some out of getting the happiness they deserve.
So how can you overcome your dating anxiety and get back in the game? It’s easier than you think. All you need is a pinch of wisdom, a dollop of dating advice, and a dash of bravado. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you relax your mind and ease the racing thoughts surrounding dating.
Everyone enters new relationships with their own psychological makeup and history. Dating anxiety can stem from different places and take different forms. You may have or had experienced issues with:
Any of these conditions or experiences can cause you serious anxiety about dating. When you’re seeing someone, anxiety-driven behavior is often counterproductive to your dating goals. It can lead you to push people away just when you need or want them the most. Ultimately, dating is about being vulnerable, and being able to expose our true selves to our partner. This level of intimacy can be scary, and difficult for people to get to that place emotionally. The fear of putting everything out there and not knowing the outcome is an anxiety-inducing thought that holds many of us back.
Anxiety isn’t an entirely bad thing. It keeps us sharp and shows that we care. While you don’t want to let your fears control you, the goal is a healthy balance rather than total paralysis.
Let yourself invest in the person sitting across the table. Sharing in their life—even if only for the evening—and allowing them to share in yours will make you a little nervous. Instead of trying to fully dismiss your nerves, acknowledge and accept them as part of living the life you desire.
A touch of anxiety will also help you not to invest too fully in the wrong people. Evaluate your anxious thoughts. Are your negative thoughts falsely triggering an alarm, or are those alarm bells really ringing and signaling a red flag? Don’t allow your anxiety to keep you from romance, but don’t let it trick you into settling for less than you deserve either.
There is no magic cure-all or the perfect piece of dating advice that transforms every romantic situation into an easy, breezy day at the beach—although you could always opt for a date of sandcastles and surfing.
These strategies take practice. You’ll need to commit to them—and to yourself—as you get ready to meet new people and build new experiences. Be patient with yourself and try out these tips.
Do you have that little voice in your head that tells you that:
Don’t listen to it. These are all lies! But we all have automatic thoughts that bypass our rational processing and infect our minds. It’s easy to mistake these for truths or gut feelings, but they’re just thoughts.
Let these thoughts come to the surface, and then handle it with all your intellectual and emotional intelligence. Recognize how your anxiety has distorted reality and has tricked you into exaggerating negative possibilities and anticipating catastrophe. Being able to properly filter thoughts as they to mind is critical to having control over your dating life.
In stressful situations, anxiety can become circular—you can start to feel anxious about being anxious or about people discovering your anxiety. Get it out into the open, and lean on your support network.
Talk to your friends or a dating coach about your fears. You can even briefly mention your anxiety to your date. Odds are that they can relate and you can bond over shared jitters. But try not to obsess. Address the issue and move on.
In the unlikely event that they’re a jerk or dismiss your feelings, that’s a red flag! They probably won’t be a good partner for you — or the partner you deserve.
Take the time to verbalize all the qualities that make you worth dating. Say them out loud or write them down in a journal. You can also enlist a good and trusted friend to help you.
Acknowledge the positive indicators that you receive from your date or new partner, too. It’s tempting to downplay affirmations and dismiss compliments but resist the urge. Accept the signs that they’re into you, like:
But don’t make them responsible for your feelings. Shore up your self-esteem rather than solely relying on external validation.
When we feel unprepared or caught off guard, we are more likely to go into anxiety-driven tailspins—so prepare for your date. Try role-playing first-date scenarios with a trusted friend. Make a list of possibilities, and rehearse your response to them. How will you handle it if they’re late, or if they make an advance that you’re not into?
Come to the date with conversation topics and ideas. Ask them about their hobbies, interests, and favorites—foods, music, books, and more. You should also practice self-disclosure. It can be difficult to open up, but you need to be prepared to share things about yourself, too.
You can also prepare an emergency exit plan for the date—a way out if things head downhill.
Relaxation techniques can help you control your dating anxiety thoughts and calm yourself when it starts to spiral out of control. Try the following:
You may also want to tackle your dating anxiety with a trained therapist. They will be able to offer you further relaxation techniques and to help you work through any underlying issues.
Your dating anxiety is part of you. Accept it. It will never completely go away, but you can learn to manage it. Be honest and open with yourself and with your date. If you need reassurance, ask for it—but then accept the reassurance. Don’t project your insecurities or fall into clingy behavior.
Remember that your date might be nervous, too. They need affirmation and attention—just as you do. If you want them to make a safe space for you to open up, you need to do the same for them. You’re looking for a partner, after all—not a prop.
Heart Appeal offers a variety of dating and relationship coaching services. Our goal is to help individuals find and sustain long-lasting love. Our expert coaches are dedicated to walking individuals through past experiences, current dates, and what potential improvements could be made to achieve a fulfilling long-term relationship. We’re here to make dating easier and healthier. Ready to talk with a coach?
Hi, I’m Raghed!
Founder and lead relationship coach at HeartAppeal.
Our blog will be your new favorite place to go for advice, laughs, and comfort through all the stages of dating. We stay up-to-date on all the latest dating trends, so you don’t have to. Have a topic you’d like us to cover or a story you’d like to share with our community? Send me an email; we’d love to include it!