Dating can be hard and can trigger a lot of anxiety. You might feel exposed, vulnerable, scared of failure, and yet afraid of success. You might be worried about how your date will perceive you, judge you, and evaluate your worthiness. You might wonder if your date will see the messy, imperfect, dark, and unloveable parts of you and leave. You might be afraid of repeating past patterns of dating unavailable or hurtful partners or self-sabotaging good relationships. You might be scared that dating will confirm all of your worst fears about yourself – that you are broken and unloveable.
Don’t let the anxieties hold you back from taking steps toward the future that you want. I love working with my clients to soothe their anxieties and insecurities around dating, find strategies that help them overcome the barriers, and take steps toward finding love. The journey of finding a romantic partner can be challenging yet extremely meaningful and fulfilling.
Below, I offer some cognitive behavioral strategies that I often share with my clients to reframe anxious thoughts and make dating fun and enjoyable:
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On one side, write down all of your negative beliefs and fears about yourself. You might be surprised how many negative thoughts you hold about yourself. On the other side, next to each negative thought, write down a positive one. For example, if you wrote, “I will never find the right person,” you can reframe that to, “The right person for me is out there looking for me too.” If you wrote, “All the good people are taken,” you can reframe that to, “There are many wonderful people who can be a good partner for me.” If you have trouble reframing a negative thought, ask your close friends, family, or a therapist for help.
Identify a Positive Mantra
Chose five positive statements and read those to yourself every day. Even if you don’t believe them just yet, reading the statements will help your brain begin to see different possibilities. You can post these statements on sticky notes around your home or make them the background on your computer or smartphone. Below are some examples:
- I am worthy and deserving of a wonderful partner
- I am attractive and beautiful inside and out
- I am ready for the right person to step into my life
- Dating is a fun adventure
- I know how to set good boundaries and advocate for myself
- I am an interesting person with unique experiences, stories, and viewpoints
- I have gone through difficult things and they have made me stronger
- I am going to learn something new from every person I meet
- I am whole and complete
- I am ready to let go of the past and be open to what comes in the present
Practice Grace and Gratitude
Dating can be an exhilarating, exhausting, painful, and magical experience. You will probably make mistakes, feel disappointed, get hurt and find love in the process. Take some time each day to send gratitude and grace to yourself. At the end of each day, make it a practice to identify one thing that you did well and one thing that you will forgive yourself for. Tell yourself that you are proud of yourself for the efforts you are making to create the future that you want. Tell yourself that you do hard things. Send gratitude for your own courage and resilience. Intentionally let go of any embarrassment, guilt, or shame that comes up.
Make the Stakes Smaller
A strategy to make dating less high stakes and therefore decrease your anxiety is to make a list of fun activities that you have been wanting to do anyway then invite your date to do that with you. This way, your date will get to know you and your interest. If you two are not a good fit romantically, you will have done something meaningful and fun with your time. It’s a win for you no matter what.
Celebrate Your Wins
Sometimes you can be so focused on the outcome of finding a partner that you do not acknowledge the little wins you make along the journey. Take time to recognize and celebrate each small step you are taking toward your goal to keep your momentum going. Make it a big deal that you created a dating profile, sent a message to someone you are interested in, went on a fun date, and connected with another human being.
Seek Extra Support to Address Dating Anxiety
The beginning of a healthy and lasting romantic relationship begins with a healthy dating process. Knowing how to establish boundaries, set standards, overcome your insecurities, express your needs and emotions, and facilitate clear communicate in the dating process can set your relationship up for success from the start. If you need extra support on your dating journey and address anxiety symptoms related to dating, working with an anxiety specialist can be helpful. If you are interested to learn more about our anxiety counselors, contact us today or schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.