I’ve been single for a while now. I’m not exactly desperate for a relationship, but I also don’t really want to die alone. So, I’m on a couple of apps and I spend a few hours a week swiping. Sometimes I even talk to a guy who seems pretty decent. Of course, that tends to go downhill pretty quickly and fizzle out before we ever actually meet up. It’s gotten to the point that the whole process of trying to find someone to go out with is more nerve-racking than anything else. Dating makes me anxious as hell these days and I don’t know what to do about it.
- There are way too many options out there. This works both ways, of course. There are so many single people out there in the same boat as me that I really do feel like the tiniest fish in the ocean, forget a pond. Because the dating pool is so big, the chances of being deemed worthy enough to get to know are slim. I realize rejection is a natural part of life, but the idea of being pied by a guy I legitimately liked gives me a minor panic attack.
- Nothing ever feels good enough for guys. They don’t just want physical perfection, though that’s a huge part of it. They also want you to be confident but not TOO confident. Smart but not smarter than them. Funny but not hilarious enough to outshine their incredible wit. You have to fit in this tiny little box and if you step outside of it, you’re done. Dating makes me and so many other people anxious for this reason.
- Letting someone in is terrifying. I’ve been hurt before, as I know many people have. It took me a long time to get over my ex and I hated the grief I felt for too long. I don’t really want to go through that again. I know “nothing ventured, nothing gained” or whatever, but your girl is scared. Being vulnerable and giving someone else power over me is not something I’m comfortable with. It’s a necessary evil, I guess.
- I don’t know how a guy is going to fit into my routine. Yes, this is anxiety-inducing for me. I’m pretty career-oriented and spend a lot of time advancing my professional life. Plus, I actually like hanging out with my friends — not just because I don’t have a boyfriend right now. I also go to the gym five times a week, go see my grandma once or twice, and I’m in a sewing group. I’m not saying I don’t have time or room for a relationship, but dating someone regularly makes me anxious about how I’ll fit him in.
- I also don’t really want to get raped or murdered. Sorry bros, but this is an actual concern for all women. No, I don’t think all men are going to force themselves on me or kill me if I refuse. However, there is a distinct possibility of that happening. I take every precaution possible when going out with a new guy. My girls know where I’m at and who I’m with, “Find My Phone” is enabled, etc. However, there’s no way to be 100% safe and I’m well aware of that.
- I always second-guess my decisions. This is totally down to my own neuroses, I’m aware, but it’s one of the biggest reasons dating makes me so anxious. I always wonder if I’m missing red flags. Or, sometimes I wonder if I’m being too cynical and writing guys off who are actually decent. I know I have to trust myself but it’s really hard.
How I’m combatting the fact that dating makes me anxious
Despite the fact that I’m an emotional wreck over the prospect of going out with someone, I really do want to meet a great guy and eventually have a solid relationship. So, here’s what I’m doing to combat how anxious I get about dating.
- I’m paying more attention to my anxious thoughts. I don’t mean that I’m listening to them or letting them control my life. More like I’m noticing when they crop up, acknowledging them, and then tucking them away in the back of my mind. The more I try and remember that I don’t have to be anxious about dating, the more I assume it’ll help in the end. It’s definitely a work in progress.
- I’m trying meditation and doing relaxation techniques. I’m hoping this will help my overall stress levels, not just those about dating. I can be a bit highly strung sometimes (okay, all the time). I know I need to chill out, relax, and learn not to sweat the small stuff so much. That’s easier said than done. However, I have noticed that doing meditations — I like Headspace, but there are a ton of different ones out there — and focusing on body scans to relax my body has relieved a bit of the anxiety.
- I’m practicing self-care. This is in addition to all the meditation and stuff (which is part of self-care, I guess). I’ve also been spending more time moving my body. I’ve always gone to the gym, but I’ve been focusing more on my training lately. I’m also going for walks and getting away from my phone/computer more often. Plus, I’m eating well, reading more, and doing other stuff that makes me feel good. That all works towards reducing my anxiety levels.
- I’m setting realistic expectations. One of the things I struggle with the most is remembering that a date is just a date. It’s not a marriage proposal. I don’t even have to see this dude again if I don’t want to. By setting realistic expectations when I go on dates, I can kinda take the pressure off and go with the flow (At least that’s the case in theory!)
- I’m talking it out so I don’t get too in my own head. When I’m really spiraling, I just call my mom or one of my friends and am like, “Yo, help me get my life together.” They always hear me out and when I want it, they give me some solid feedback or advice. They remind me that I’m freaking out about nothing and that everything is going to be okay. I can’t tell you how helpful that is.