How to Date With Social Anxiety
Everyone has some anxiety about going out and meeting new people but if your head is getting in the way of your heart, you need to do something about it. Whether you’ve always been a wallflower or you have recently lost your confidence after a break-up, there are lots of things you can do to get out there.
You don’t have to be looking for ‘the one’ or even push too far outside your comfort zone. All you need to do is try a few new ideas and you’ll be on the right tracks. You never know when you might meet someone so by opening yourself up to friendly and romantic opportunities, you might just surprise yourself.
Life is all about learning and there aren’t many skills that don’t require at least a little bit of practice. Dating is just the same. If you don’t go on any dates, how can you possibly improve your anxiety? Or, if you go on dates but you don’t fully engage, how can you expect the date to go well? Take the pressure off and take every experience as a chance to practice and learn.
Social anxiety will always try to push you back into your shell but the reality is that if you take a small step forward, it will probably be okay. Everyone’s had bad dates so don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t immediately hit it off and get married on the spot! Even if you’re kind of late to the party, practice is good for you.
If you are really worried about going out, a smaller step to take might be to try chatting online or experimenting with a FREE Phone Chat. This way, you can try out different approaches and learn to make conversation without having to concern yourself with body language and all the worry that comes with it. Learning to relax into conversation is a really important skill and will help to stop your brain jamming up because you can’t think of a new topic or figure out what to say. Going with the flow is weird when you want to be in control all the time but, guess what? It’s actually a lot easier!
Put Yourself Out There
To get dates and meet new people, you have to put yourself out there. There is a 100% chance of not getting a date if you stay in all the time, refusing to talk to anyone new! If you want to increase the odds, think of this as a numbers game. The more people you open yourself up to and the more people you are willing to meet, the more likely it is that you’re going to find someone who wants to date you.
Going to bars and clubs is one way to get out and meet people but it’s not the only way. If you’re more academically inclined, finding a class or a lecture could be a nice way to go out and find like-minded people. Similarly joining a club – any club like sports, arts, theatre – is a brilliant way to have fun while meeting new people. While you may not be guaranteed dating opportunities, you never know who might have a friend they think you’d like.
If you really want to increase your chances, you should try seeking out clubs or nights for singles. Speed-dating is one solution but there are all kinds of events around you could try. Of course, online dating is another excellent way to meet singles and, once again, you have a chance to speak online before you meet. Like all things, there are a few pros and cons to online dating but if you fancy giving it a go, it’s all good practice.
Take it Slow
Just because you want to find a partner doesn’t mean that you should put a lot of pressure on yourself to go fast. Sure, some people might be perfectly comfortable going home with a partner on the first night for a bit of Netflix and chill but that doesn’t mean you have to too.
You’re allowed to go slow. In fact, going slow can be even more rewarding as you can get to know your date no your own terms and build up trust and friendship, not just a romantic bond. Slow dating should be all about having fun and getting to know each other. So, even if you’re not ready to jump between the sheets straight away, you should get creative with your dating ideas. Instead of the standard dinner or drinks, try going for a walk or taking a class. Cultural activities like the theatre, art galleries and museums are also great for sparking conversation.
If your date is showing signs of wanting to go faster, you should definitely tell them that you want to keep things slow. There’s no shame in expressing exactly what you want and it’s okay to make it clear where you’re up to. Openness is essential to any relationship so don’t allow yourself to be dragged along. Explain where you’re coming from and be clear that you’ve had fun. It’s also a good idea to suggest further activities that are within your comfort zone so that your date doesn’t think your just blowing them off.
For people with social anxiety, the thought of ‘being yourself’ is probably the most scary thing about dating. When you spend a lot of time agonizing about what you should be doing or how you come across, it’s really tough to be present in the moment and relax. There’s no two ways about this – you’re going to have to steadily overcome your fear and stop leaning on safety behaviors that maintain your social anxiety.
The fear of rejection is often the driving force behind social anxiety which makes it even harder to be yourself. However, if you take each experience as a chance to learn, put yourself out there in different ways and take things at your own pace, you will find that rejection is simply an inevitable part of dating and it doesn’t mean everything. Reducing the weight of the rejection is really important.
When you do deal with rejection, remember that this is evidence that you pushed past your comfort zone in pursuit of something better. Being rejected is painful and no-one likes it but it shows that you are trying for something. Plus, rejection isn’t always one way. As you start dating, you’ll find that you are rejecting people just as they are rejecting you. It might be personal but it isn’t the end of the world. There are over 7 billion people – you can’t love them all!
Being true to yourself is the best way to find someone you really get on with. You won’t find a deeper connection than with the person who understands your anxieties and worries and still loves you for who you are. As tempting as it might be to put on a more confident persona, this will only take you so far. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable takes real bravery but it is worth the risk.
Dating with social anxiety is tough but it’s not impossible. As you gradually widen your comfort zone, look back at your achievements and celebrate reaching your goals. Even if you are starting as small as leaving your house and saying hi to the guy at the till in your local store, you can, and you will, get there. This is your journey and all you have to do is take a step in the right direction.