Let’s dive into a topic close to many of our hearts: dating anxiety. It's like a flutter in your stomach, but not the good kind you get when you see a text from your crush. It's more of a swarm of butterflies, and not in a nice way. Let’s talk about it, understand it, and find ways to ease it.
What is Dating Anxiety?
Dating anxiety is the jittery, nervous feeling that can cloud your dating experience. It's like having an overzealous inner critic constantly whispering doubts in your ear. But where does it come from? Often, it's a cocktail of past experiences, attachment styles formed in childhood, the influence of other relationships, and yes, a dash of everyday anxiety.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Butterflies Gone Wild: Not the excited kind, but the kind that feels more like anxiety. You feel your anxiety kick on which leads to other symptoms below…
Overthinking Everything: Analyzing texts, conversations, and gestures to the nth degree.
Out of The Moment: You may find it hard to concentrate on other things or relationships because you are constantly thinking about that person. This can really be distracting. You may even find yourself jumping far into the future, such as thinking about your wedding with this person, saving your free time in hopes to make plans with them (this might even mean not committing to other events in hope to spend it with that person).
Avoidance: Dodging dating opportunities because they feel just too overwhelming. Dating anxiety can also swing the other way where it is more comforting for you to avoid versus slowing stepping your toes into the dating world more.
Self-Doubt: Constantly questioning your worthiness of love and affection.
Why Does it Happen?
Your past often plays a leading role here. Those attachment styles we mentioned? They're like scripts written in our early years, influencing how we connect with others. If your script is a bit rocky, it might manifest as dating anxiety. Plus, our previous relationships – romantic or otherwise – can leave imprints that shape how we view new connections. There is no one thing to say here unless we are diving deeper into you specifically (right, cause everyone’s experiences are different).
Reflect on the Past: Understanding your relationship history can shine a light on current anxieties. I think of being understanding and kind to yourself with reflecting. We can get stuck in the negative or self-sabotage easily (it’s like quicksand!)
Mindfulness: Stay in the present. A date is just a date, not a commitment for life. It can be an opportunity to learn about someone and connect, if anything maybe it is something you learned about what you want or don’t want in a person you are dating.
Self-Compassion: Speak to yourself like you would to a dear friend. This can go a long way when you are navigating the dating pools.
Baby Steps: Take dating at your own pace. There's no rush. Sometimes we place expectations on ourselves (maybe some people push their expectations onto us too) and it will only lead us frustrating especially if we are running into obstacles along the way.
How Can Therapy Help?
A therapist is like a skilled navigator in the often tumultuous sea of dating. They can help you:
Understand Your Attachment Style: And how it plays out in your dating life. There are strategies to navigate the times when attachment styles don’t lend itself too well in dating.
Process Past Relationships: To reduce their impact on your current dating experience. You can’t move forward if the past is still rearing its head.
Develop Coping Strategies: Tailored to your unique experiences and anxieties.
Boost Self-Esteem: Empowering you to approach dating with confidence.
It's okay to feel anxious about dating. It's a journey, not a destination. By understanding and addressing your dating anxiety, you're setting the stage for healthier, happier relationships. After all, the most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. Nurture it, and watch how it transforms your approach to dating.
Better Minds Counseling & Services provides therapy through our virtual mental health platform. Brittany Webb, LPC CCATP, a certified clinical anxiety treatment expert and licensed professional counselor, is ready to help you have the relationships you want! Schedule your free introductory session with her today!
Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.