I Get So Nervous On First Dates And I Think It’s Keeping Me From Finding Love

I turn into a ball of nerves whenever I’m on a first date and no matter how hard I try to combat my anxiety, it never seems to go away. The second date is fine — it’s just that initial meeting that gets me all riled up, and I’m starting to get concerned that it’s keeping me from attracting the guys and the relationships that I deserve.

They don’t get to see who I really am. 
I feel like my nervousness creates a veil over the true me and I’m completely unable to really open up to my date. Sure, I’ve had fantasies where I’m sitting with my date cool as a cucumber, sipping my drink and speaking freely about the details of my life. The reality is that the nerves take over and any hope I had for a laid-back time goes out the window. I find it hard to really know if I like them because I’m not being myself, and I feel like it’s out of my control.

I avoid dating because of it. 
If I get asked out, I’ll eventually agree, but I’d never do online dating and expose myself on purpose to the scariness that is the first date. If I didn’t have this fear of first dates, I’d probably have a boyfriend by now, but it’s not something I usually go after. It’s the same reason I don’t like rollercoasters — why would I scare myself on purpose?

It makes me feel unworthy.
 The idea that I can’t even have a conversation on a first date without internally freaking out doesn’t make me feel too good about myself. After the date, I end up walking home with my head down, regretting pretty much everything I said and did. I wonder over and over again why I can’t just pull it together and act normal, but for some reason, I just can’t.

I have trouble trusting people upon meeting them. 
I have a social anxiety that only relates to people I’ve never met. Kinda inconvenient when you’re single and looking to find love, wouldn’t you say? Even if a guy was initially interested in me, I still don’t trust that he really likes me. It just doesn’t compute in my brain. Once I know someone well, I can let my guard down but in a first-date situation, I’m always wary of what they must think.

It weirds my dates out.
 I know they’re probably just as nervous as I am, but I can barely keep it together and I’m so sure my dates think I’m totally weird for it. I know that a symptom of anxiety is to catastrophize situations and make things seem about 10 times worse than they actually are. I know that I’m making a bad impression on my dates and there’s no way I can stop it! Ugh, it’s so frustrating.

I was a late bloomer so this is all still new to me.
 I don’t totally know what I’m doing when it comes to dating and that’s mostly because I haven’t been doing it for that long. I was in a long-term relationship for most of my 20s and didn’t even start dating until I was 21. I never really had to go on first dates until now and I’m afraid that I’ll mess it up due to lack of experience.

First dates are already so much pressure.
 Not only am I a chronically nervous person, but first dates are like giving a speech on national TV — at least to me. I feel like I’m performing, and maybe that’s why it makes me so nervous. It’s like I’m being judged by the other person on how well I behave or how pretty I am. It’s too much pressure!

I’ve had a few first date experiences that were hard to get over. 
There’s a reason why I have this intense fear of first dates. For starters, my date left me on prom night, which made me feel like a perpetual loser. Secondly, I’ve been stood up on multiple occasions. I don’t have the best references when it comes to first dates and this directly affects my attitude and the way I behave these days.

It all comes down to how I see myself.
I know that at the end of the day, I’m the one doing this to myself. My nervousness is coming from the shame I felt about past dating experiences. I know I shouldn’t let it affect my love life, but it’s hard to shake off the bad when there are so many examples of it.

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