Let’s face it dating is difficult at the best of times but it’s almost impossible right now. Just being vulnerable is hard enough; the fear of the unknown can feed our anxiety before we get anywhere near our prospective date.
But for people who have even mild anxiety disorders, which is different from the body’s natural response to merely being nervous, dating can be even more difficult and complicated – so much so that people with anxiety will decide to opt-out altogether.
Intimate relationships indeed magnify our personality, so if you’re already struggling with anxiety, it’s going to show up even more when you’re considering getting up close and personal with someone.
Help is at hand, read on to find out what you can do to make your life easier.
Best Ways To Reduce Anxiety Before A Date
1. Clear Your Mind
Before you leave to meet your date, take five minutes to clear your mind. Consider a five-minute meditation, and if that sounds complicated, just sit quietly for five minutes and breathe deeply.
Get a shortcut to serenity by inhaling aromatherapy essential oils such as lavender or frankincense; these oils can help to quell anxious feelings. Oils like peppermint can wake up your brain and settle your stomach.
For free mediation tips and suggested soundtracks try headspace.com, there are also some instruction videos on YouTube that might be useful.
2. Address your Assumptions
A leading psychologist is quoted on the NHS website, stating that the first step to “challenging any type of negative thoughts is to address them head-on, identify them, and replace them with positive reinforcements”.
The trick is to challenge the negative thoughts as they arise. It’s essential to try and silence your inner critic while you’re on a date, remember that most people prefer imperfection because most people know they are far from perfect and are happy to acknowledge that.
If you make a mistake, so what? It may even increase your chances of a match.
3. If You’re Feeling Anxious Say So!
It may sound obvious, but communication is the key, expressing your feelings is the best way to take away their power. It’s okay to say “I feel nervous” after all it’s unlikely that your date will feel relaxed completely .
Since many people have experienced anxiety in one form or another, telling your date could be a bonding moment, an ice breaker and also an insight into your dates mindset, all the things you need to know to make a great match.
Also read: Cozy Up With These 12 Cute Winter Date Ideas
4. Positive Projection
It’s all too easy to convince ourselves that a date is going badly because that’s what we want to believe. These thoughts are called projection, and it’s just a mirror of what we think about ourselves, not necessarily what other people think about us.
As easy as it is to project negatively, it’s just as easy to turn those thoughts on their head and project positively.
When you’re on the date, take things slowly, look for positive things, particularly evidence that things are going well and that your date likes you. According to psychologytoday.com if you pay attention to your date, you will notice some subtle hints that will tell you how things are going.
For example, pay attention to whether they smiled when they sat down at the table, did they ask about your favourite movie or anything about your job or family. If they did these are good signs, just remember to return the favour.
5. Be Prepared
As with anything that makes us uncomfortable, a little homework can go a long way, and dating is no different. Preparing some talking points or questions to have at the ready can help to stop the experience feel overwhelming.
Remember everybody loves to talk about themselves, so if there’s a lull during the conversation, reach for one of your go-to questions. Here are a few questions that might help.
- Do you have any pets – it seems like a boring question, but if you’re an animal lover, you wouldn’t want to date someone who didn’t like animals.
- What films have you seen recently – again not earth-shattering but a great way to get some insight into your date’s personality.
- If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be? We like this one as a bit of escapism on a date is a good thing.
- Comparing musical taste is also a great way to check if your date is suitable for you.
- What’s your favourite food? If they say Marmite you might like to think again (joke)
It’s probably best to avoid politics, religion and career advice on your first date but saying that dating experts say opposites attract.
6. Stay present, Ignore Your Phone
How many times have you seen people on a date who are looking at their phone? Sadly too many and this is such a shame, and your chances of a positive experience are limited if you can’t take your eyes off the screen long enough to make a connection.
We know that these days looking at your phone is acceptable but really if you can’t keep your eyes on your date how can you expect to find out if they are right for you? Apart from anything else, it’s rude.
7. Get Reassurance, But Seek Balance
Most of all, remember that the key to maintaining calm is balance. Some people with anxiety hold on to the belief that it’s the other person’s responsibility to make them happy – it’s not.
When feeling anxious, lonely, worried, or rejected, some sufferers ask that their partners, friends and family provide constant reassurance. Putting pressure on people to change their behaviour to accommodate, such as return texts immediately or commit more quickly in new relationships.
Remember you’re the only person who can manage your anxiety, so build your toolbox and use every trick you can to reinforce positive behaviour. But at the same time, it’s also a good idea to remember that not all dates will be successful. There’s no shame in agreeing to disagree.