Dating can be exciting and sometimes daunting for anyone, as it is one of those rare instances where we expose our true self to a stranger in the hopes of creating a meaningful and long-term connection with that person. For that reason, dating is often described as an anxiety-inducing situation that requires mental preparation. To put it bluntly, no one wings a date!
By contrast, someone suffering from social anxiety might see dating as an impossible task, because revealing one’s true self is the one thing that they will avoid at all cost. Individuals struggling with social anxiety seek constant approval from their peers, and they don’t take rejection well, because they will attribute it to their deficiencies as a person resulting in a drop in self-confidence and a lowered self-esteem. Rejection then further validates their inherent feelings of inadequacy, leading to increased social withdrawal.
To support and empower you in your dating endeavors while struggling with social anxiety, we have compiled a comprehensive guide of dating do’s and don’ts. Our aim is to equip you with valuable insights and strategies that will enhance your experiences while navigating the challenges posed by social anxiety.
The Do’s of Dating:
- Be candid: You do not need to reveal that you have social anxiety on your first date, but you can surely let your dating partner know if you feel nervous. For example, you might say something along the lines of, ” I am a little nervous, so please don’t mind my quirks or awkwardness.” That may be stating the obvious, but you are not doing it for them, it will actually help you feel more at ease during your dates, and not worry about how you may appear to them.
- Stay positive: Do not waste time ruminating about the mistakes you might have made; instead remind yourself of all the good things that happened on your date, even if they don’t include your date. For example, you might remind yourself of how delicious your dish was, or how much fun you had playing mini-golf. By emphasizing the good moments, you will be motivated to go on more dates (even if it is with someone new), rather than giving up and withdrawing from the sating scene.
- Be communicative: Openly express your preferences and let your dating partner know of any discomfort you may experience in a specific situation. It is essential to establish clear communication with your date, ensuring that they are aware of your boundaries and understanding of the situations that may make you uncomfortable. If your date is annoyed about some of those boundaries, then he is probably not a good match for you.
- Practice, practice: As with any new challenge, the more practice you have under your belt, the better you become. Go on as many dates as possible to increase your experience and your level of comfort. Avoid rushing into commitments or making assumptions too quickly. Be patient with yourself, but also with your date.
The Don’ts of Dating:
- Don’t make assumptions: In the grip of social anxiety, you may find yourself making faulty judgements or attributing unflattering qualities to your date. As you anticipate rejection, you might use this defense mechanism to preemptively reject them instead. Understand that it is just your anxiety talking, and in doing that you are depriving yourself of the one thing that would help reduce your anxiety, which is to confront the reality.
- Don’t neglect your appearance: Although this is an obvious statement, it is important to look your best when you go on dates. When talking about “looking your best”, it means focusing on enhancing your self-confidence. This involves wearing outfits that that make you feel comfortable and align with your personal taste, rather than simply following trends dictated by others.
- Don’t compare: It is very easy to succumb to the inclination of comparing your date to idealized notions of what a date should be like or how your dating partner should behave. This comes from a gap in your dating experience that you may be inclined to fill in with romantic notions conjured up in your head. Stay grounded in the reality by giving your date the opportunity to show their true self and allowing yourself to enrich your dating experience.
- Don’t blame yourself: Notwithstanding everything mentioned above, there is still a possibility that your date may not go as planned. In such cases, it is important to avoid blaming on yourself or your social anxiety, as it would not be productive. Instead recognize that many individuals experience disappointment in dating, which is part of the normal process. Prioritize your safety and pay attention to the red flags; you should not endure uneasiness or discomfort, which in this case implies following your gut instinct.