Dating anxiety occurs when a person has excessive fears or worries before, during, and after a date. While nervousness is expected when meeting a new person, dating anxiety is more intense and long lasting.
Dating anxiety may feel awkward, overwhelming, and stressful. It may also affect other areas of a person’s life and can cause them to avoid dating altogether.
A person with dating anxiety may exhibit physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and a fast heart rate. They may have repetitive negative thoughts relating to fears of shame, embarrassment, and rejection. However, there are ways to manage the condition.
It is important to note that dating anxiety is not an official condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
This article discusses the causes of dating anxiety, how to manage it, and when to speak to a healthcare professional.
Usually, dating anxiety occurs before a person has a first date with a new person, though it can happen at any stage of dating.
It occurs for a variety of reasons, which may relate to a person’s health, upbringing, and relationship history. A 2021 study suggests that people with dating anxiety may fear being rejected and rejecting others.
People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) may not feel comfortable meeting new people or engaging in social situations, which could cause them to avoid dating. A 2021 study outlined the findings of older research, which found that individuals with more social anxiety were not as likely to have a romantic partner.
A person may encounter dating anxiety when they start dating again after a long-term relationship, especially if they have experienced rejection or emotional pain. They may also feel stress that relates to finances, employment, and family situations, which can affect their self-esteem.
Dating anxiety often has links to:
- previous relationship trauma
- lack of confidence or self-worth
- shyness and introversion
- anxious or avoidant attachment style
- fear of rejection, embarrassment, and judgment
- concerns about personal safety
- chronic health conditions
- abandonment issues
- dating inexperience
A person may learn to manage and overcome dating anxiety. They can examine the causes of their anxiety and how it affects their well-being.
Below are some tips a person may use to manage their dating anxiety.
Establish values and needs
An individual should define their dating goals, values, and needs, so they have a clear understanding of what they want from their dating experience. They can make an honest assessment of their relationship patterns, strengths, and weaknesses.
A person may decide if they prefer casual dating or a long-term commitment. This may help them set healthy emotional and physical boundaries.
Learn more about what makes a healthy relationship.
Use clear, effective communication
A person can establish open, honest communication with their date. This communication should derive from mutual respect and consideration.
Individuals should clearly express their standards and expectations, which may include deal-breakers for a relationship.
A person should decide what helps them feel most at ease. To the best of their ability, they should ensure their potential partner is trustworthy, understanding, and supportive.
People can also arrange to have dates in places they feel comfortable. Some may prefer going on a double date or group activity.
Additionally, some people are more comfortable if they come up with a plan for their date. It may include the duration, transportation options, and who will pay.
Be open and share
A person can gradually build trust, understanding, and connection with self-disclosure. This is when someone shares information about themself with another individual.
According to 2016 research, increasing self-disclosure helps alleviate social anxiety and increase the motivation to connect again. This suggests that people should be open and honest about themselves while dating.
To feel more comfortable, a person may practice sharing information with a trusted friend.
Learning how to practice mindfulness may help a person learn to regulate their emotions and change negative thought patterns. An individual can develop mindfulness to observe their thoughts while minimizing their reaction and attachment to them.
They may also use meditation, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to center themselves and focus on the present moment.
A person should learn to love, forgive, and accept themselves to practice self-love. People should aim to be patient and kind to themselves, especially if they are nervous about dating.
Choose not to date
Some people, such as those on the asexual or aromantic spectrum, may feel pressured into dating due to societal or familial expectations.
In this case, a person may take a break from dating or decide not to date at all. Some may wish to take time to focus on themselves and their goals.
A person can reach out to a healthcare professional if dating anxiety affects their overall mental health and quality of life. They should also consider seeking help if they have previous trauma or debilitating anxiety.
It is important for a doctor to diagnose anxiety disorders, so they can create a treatment plan, which may include therapy and medication.
A person can work with a mental health professional to identify and work through the underlying issues that impact their dating experience. Common types of therapy may include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- mindfulness-based stress reduction
A person who has experienced trauma or has post-traumatic stress disorder may benefit from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.
Therapy may help a person learn how to:
- manage their emotions
- improve self-awareness
- develop a strong sense of self
Dating anxiety involves feelings of fear and worry that are more intense and long lasting than typical nervousness.
To reduce dating anxiety, people can examine the root causes of the condition and make positive changes to overcome them.
A person may benefit from speaking with a healthcare professional about their dating anxiety, particularly if it affects their mental health.