When you’ve been single for a while, you may still get excited about going on dates, but there inevitability comes a point when you would rather watch TV with a glass of wine on your couch than suffer through another date that’s going nowhere. But is that really how you feel? Here are 10 signs you’re actually afraid of dating and what to do about it.
- You like your life and don’t want anything to change. You know that having a boyfriend will alter your schedule and honestly, you don’t want that right now. You have a job you love, an amazing family and close friends, and that’s enough. You spend your free time catching up on your shows, going to yoga and swearing this is the week you’re going to cook more.
- You’ve gone on too many Awkward First Dates. The kind of dates where you escape to the bathroom and text your BFF needing advice on how to leave gracefully. Where the guy looks nothing like his profile picture and plans what you will do on every single subsequent date… while you’re still having your first drink.
- You don’t want a stranger’s opinion. Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and you live by that motto, but you’ve been insulted by guys in the past and don’t feel like dealing with it. All it takes is one mean comment on a date and it can put you off dating for ages. My favorite bad date story (favorite because you have to laugh): when a guy gave me a hug hello and said immediately, “Whoa, you’re soooooooo short!” Is it any surprise I didn’t want to see him again?
- You don’t want to force anything. Dating can feel like work and you already have a job. Dates involve so many tiny decisions – where to go, what to wear, if you think he’s cute, if you think the conversation was okay or amazing. It can be exhausting.
- You never go on more than three dates. You always seem to find a reason to stop seeing someone after the third date, or the other person senses your hesitation and ends things. Friends say you’re picky or looking for non-existent problems but in reality, you are afraid of someone getting close.
- You’re more inexperienced than others. There’s nothing wrong with not having a ton of dating experience. We all have different backstories. But your inexperience may hold you back if you get scared of telling someone about it or feel you’re too old to have never been in a relationship.
- You have that one friend full of dating horror stories. Every time you see her, she has a new one and it basically freaks you out. If this is dating, you’re not so sure you want any part of it. Hell, maybe you even have multiple friends like this and the chorus of their complaining about their awful experiences are enough to make you just want to be alone forever. It’s no wonder you’re afraid of dating when all you hear is the horror stories!
More signs you’re afraid of dating
- You’re still figuring out who you are. We’re all still a work in progress. We’re still young, after all. Meeting someone new means needing to explain stuff about yourself and your life: whether you love your career or dream of something else, if you’re close with your family, if you’re generally happy with your situation. If you’re not happy and want to make some changes, it can be tricky to picture yourself becoming a part of someone else’s life.
- You don’t want to end up hurt. It’s a classic explanation for a fear of commitment but it’s classic because it’s so true. If you go on a first date, you might want a second and the other person might not. If you date for six months, the other person might break up with you. This freaks you out so much you’d rather keep things status quo for as long as possible.
- You always say you’re too busy to date. It is kind of an excuse, but you also really believe it. It’s probably true that you are busy – we all are. But think about whether anything in your calendar can change so you can go on a date if you really want to. You never know – it could be a good one.
- You’re scared of losing your independence. You’re proud of being self-sufficient because you’ve worked hard to get where you are. That’s great, but independence and a loving relationship aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s possible to still be strong and badass while also happily coupled up.
- You know most relationships tend to end. This is a cynic’s view and is a major sign that you’re afraid of dating if you actually believe it. It’s true that not all relationships end in marriage and happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean them a waste of time or something tragic/worth avoiding. Besides, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.
- Your parents had a toxic relationship. If your parents constantly fought and their marriage ended badly while you were still young, it’s no wonder that you developed views of love and partnership that are a little messed up, to say the least. However, their relationship patterns don’t have to be ones that you repeat or partake in. You have the power to change the narrative, but you have to be willing to try.
- You struggle to really open up and let someone know you. It’s so scary being vulnerable and opening up to someone because this gives them the power to hurt you, and who wants that? You also like keeping your cards close to your chest and like maintaining what you refer to as a bit of mystery. Really, this is a shield you use because you’re afraid of dating and opening yourself up. It makes sense, but let’s call it what it is.
How to overcome the struggles of being afraid of dating
- Start small. You don’t have to go out tomorrow and dive head-first into a committed relationship with someone you just met. In fact, you really shouldn’t. It’s important that you give yourself time to adjust to the idea of meeting possible romantic partners and simply getting to know them and enjoying time with them rather than jumping 20 steps ahead and self-destructing before things really get off the ground.
- Leave the house sometimes. When you’re afraid of dating, you convince yourself that you just love staying at home when really, you just want to avoid the possibility of being hit on at the bar. However, if you don’t want to live the rest of your life petrified at the possibility of a romantic connection, you’ll need to get off your couch, put some decent clothes on, and get out into the world.
- At least be open to the possibility. Again, no one is asking you to be resolute in your desire to find a boyfriend or girlfriend and live happily ever after. What I am saying is that you should at least be open to the possibility of finding love. Believe that it exists and that you’re worthy of it. Realize that it may come to you – in fact, it likely will someday – and be willing to receive it when it does.
- Don’t look for red flags that don’t exist. While it’s so important that you set healthy boundaries and don’t put up with any obviously toxic/inappropriate behavior, you also have to be careful that you don’t start making up issues that don’t exist simply because you’re afraid of dating and need an excuse.
- Give people a chance. Nobody’s perfect, you know that, so why would you expect a potential romantic interest to be? Sometimes people run late, sometimes they might be a little awkward on a date because they’re nervous. Sometimes they’ll do something that annoys you but isn’t a dealbreaker. Be willing to give the people you meet a chance, the same way you’d want them to do for you as they get to know you.
What you’ll experience once you stop being afraid of dating
- The joy of connection I know it sounds cheesy to say, but connecting with other people is really the spice of life. That’s how we find meaning and what makes life worth living. By getting to know other people, bonding with them, and sharing experiences with them, romantically or otherwise, we grow and laugh and love and live fulfilling lives.
- A lot more fun Once you get over being afraid of dating, you can really get out there and enjoy yourself. Not every first date has to lead to a second one – you can simply go out for the afternoon/evening and have a total blast and then move on with your life. It really shakes up the humdrum day-to-day and can cheer you up when you’re feeling down.
- Some memorable experiences Even if you go out with some total disasters, at least you’ll have some amazing stories to tell when it’s over. You’ll be able to chip in with your friends and laugh about your disastrous dates. Or, maybe there’s someone you really found interesting and fun but you just knew they weren’t for you. You’ll still remember them for a long time to come and will look back on that time fondly (or at least hilariously).
- Love, possibly Hey, you never know. I told you that you had to be open to love in order to find it and that’s true. And somany other people have found it, so why can’t you? It might take a while and it might not come in the form you would have expected, but have faith. You might be pleasantly surprised.