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Top Tips for Getting Over Your Dating Anxiety, According to a Mental Health Expert

Antonia Greco - Writer for Top10.com
Top 10 Ways Mindfulness Can Help Ease Your Anxiety Before Going on a Date
Do you generally feel anxious about going on dates? You’re always nervous, with your stomach in knots and your mind racing. Whatever the reason, don’t worry; dating anxiety is as common as the cold.

But what can you do about it, especially when you’re trying to put your best foot forward, but it feels like those feet are shoved halfway down your throat? With some mindfulness techniques, you can learn to ease those butterflies before your next date. 

Whether you’re meeting people in person or through online dating sites, I can show you how to come out of your shell comfortably and calmly. Let me use my 15 years of experience as a life and relationships coach to help you get your feelings back under control.

What Is Dating Anxiety?

Dating anxiety, in general terms, refers to someone’s uneasiness, dread, and nervousness around dating. It can stem from various sources, like bad experiences in the past, internalized fear of rejection, or just how someone is naturally and how they connect with others. 

I often work with clients who have dating anxiety because of their attachment style—the way a person bonded with their caregiver when they were younger. Those with an insecure or anxious attachment style often experienced inconsistent caregiving, which led to recurring fears in romantic relationships and anxiety in adult dating. 

These feelings may cause an individual to either stay away from dating altogether or have exaggerated reactions to things that shouldn’t elicit such a response. 

Common Symptoms of Dating Anxiety

If you have dating anxiety, you may:

  • Constantly stress about dating and romantic relationships
  • Stay away from romantic connections because you’re scared
  • Find yourself in relationships that mirror your childhood experiences
  • Worry excessively about being left or rejected
  • Have a strong desire for control and do not like unpredictable dating scenarios

10 Strategies for Overcoming Dating Anxiety

Having dating anxiety means you may not be able to regulate or control your emotions well when it comes to dating and thinking about forming a new relationship. To counter this, you need tools and strategies that can help you manage your feelings. This usually means becoming aware of your emotions, identifying triggers, and dealing with them as they occur. 

If the stress of dating is holding you back, I strongly recommend working with a therapist or coach to develop skills and overcome past trauma. If your anxiety is less severe, building habits that help you understand and believe in yourself more can help you control your fears. To promote self-reflection and boost your confidence, try the following techniques.

1. Do a Pre-Date Meditation

People have been using meditation for thousands of years. This practice can help with various mental and emotional challenges, from anxiety to anger, which means you can meditate before a date to soothe your nerves. You can even do this before you log into dating apps like Zoosk

Try simple techniques, such as lying down comfortably and focusing on a sensation like your feet touching the ground, to find calmness. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the present moment. You can also use self-help strategies to release negative feelings and anxious thoughts. These methods can prepare your mind for more positive experiences.

2. Practice Mindful Breathing

So, we need to breathe—not just to stay alive but also to calm our minds. Mindful breathing helps us slow down, refocus, and think clearly. To practice focused breathing, simply pay attention to the air going in and out of your chest. Sit in a comfortable position, take deep breaths, and then release them slowly. 

Repeat this until you start to feel more relaxed. You might be surprised at how much calmer you feel after just a few minutes. 

3. Use Positive Affirmations

Studies show that positive affirmations can help lower stress and anxiety. By repeating phrases like “I am enough” or “I deserve love and happiness,” you can remind yourself that you’re valuable just as you are. And while they don’t imply that you’re perfect, they help you acknowledge your worth.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a positive phrase and write it on paper or a post-it note.
  2. Place it somewhere you can see it often, like your bedroom mirror or refrigerator door.
  3. Read and repeat your mantra daily, and take a moment to meditate on the words.

The idea is to keep this positive message in your mind constantly. This practice can boost your confidence in life and for your upcoming date.

4. Run a Body Scan

A body scan can put you in tune with your body’s sensations, making it easier to address what’s wrong. Close your eyes and steady your breathing. Then, mentally, go through each part of your body and notice how it feels. If you find any lingering tension, try to let it go. This technique is useful because you can do it quickly, anywhere, and in any position.

5. Take on an Attitude of Gratitude

A lot of times, we cause ourselves stress by dwelling on negative thoughts. Maybe you’ve had notions like “I had such a bad day at work,” or “It took me so long to get this date, and it’s probably not going to go anywhere anyway,” or “All of my dates have been terrible, why would this one be different?”

By focusing on these ideas, we perceive the date as bad before it even happens. With this type of negative thinking, we end up feeling worse and might even become anxious. Instead, try to see the positives in your life. Think about what went well today or what you’re thankful for.

Take a few minutes to hone in on grateful thoughts. See how this shift can change your mood from anxiety-riddled to “Hey, maybe this date will be fun.”

6. Plan Mindfully 

Here’s another tip to be less anxious before your date starts: Plan mindfully. Think about where you’ll meet and choose a place that makes you feel comfortable. Go for a familiar spot where you’re usually at ease. 

Also, consider keeping the meeting short. That way, you aren’t stressed about coming up with many topics and long conversations. Plus, it makes it easier to get out of a bad date. Of course, you can always stay longer if you’re enjoying yourself. 

7. Change Your Perspective

This mindfulness activity works for any situation, not just dating. Often, pre-date jitters come from focusing too much on yourself and your perceived flaws. You may think things like, “My outfit is all wrong,” or “I can never come up with something funny to say,” or “I sweat like a pig.”

Stop for a minute. Shift your attention to the other person—they’re likely nervous, too. Consider the date from their point of view to understand how they might be experiencing things. When you realize that they’re just as anxious as you are, it can help you relax.

Before going out, think of some interesting first date questions you can ask to spark a connection. A thought-provoking query can distract both of you from your nerves. If your partner starts opening up and flirting with you, take it as a sign that things are going well.

8. Set Yourself Up for Success

To have a better dating experience, it helps to prepare in ways that can lead to success. While you can’t control everything, you can improve the outcome of the date by:

  • Avoiding stressful situations
  • Exercising to release endorphins and promote positive feelings
  • Eating something so you’re not hungry and irritable
  • Listening to music that can calm or psych you up
  • Taking a relaxing shower

9. Write Down Your Feelings in a Journal

Journaling can make you more aware of your emotions, beliefs, fears, and the cause of your anxiety. Writing down your feelings can stop negative thoughts and help you understand what’s bothering you so you can address them in a healthy way. 

First, make sure you keep your book in a safe place so you don’t have to worry about others reading it. Also, choosing a journal that feels right for you can motivate you to start writing regularly. I like using a notebook with lines to keep my entries neat. 

Additionally, use a reliable pen that won’t run out of ink mid-sentence. You want the words to flow smoothly so you can complete your thoughts without interruptions.

10. Try Grounding Techniques

If all else fails, grounding techniques can be a simple way to distract yourself from your anxious thoughts and help you redirect your focus. Activities like memory games, counting odds or evens, and reciting song lyrics can help clear your mind and improve your mood for a positive dating experience.

You can also try:

  • Naming objects around you
  • Engaging your senses by identifying certain smells, sounds, or textures
  • Holding a comforting object like a soft blanket or smooth stone
  • Doing gentle stretches or yoga poses

Top Tips From a Mental Health Therapist for Managing Anxiety in Dating

Dating anxiety can cause you to feel overwhelmed and fearful. To help you deal with these emotions, I’ve reached out to Angela Paoli, a licensed social worker and online therapist who specializes in relationships and anxiety management. Her seven tips below can help give you a calmer mindset and make the search for connection a bit easier and more enjoyable.

  • Set clear boundaries: Before dating, establish your comfort zone and communicate your needs openly with your partner. This builds a sense of control and reduces uncertainty.
  • Practice visualization: Imagine positive scenarios, such as a date filled with laughter or the night ending with the two of you setting up a second date. With these hopeful images, you can foster an optimistic outlook and counteract anxious thoughts.
  • Engage in self-care: Try activities that promote relaxation and boost your confidence, like doing yoga or some of your favorite hobbies. These exercises can enhance your overall well-being and distract you from anxiety.
  • Try cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Use CBT to reframe your negative thought patterns, recognize and change irrational beliefs, and manage anxiety. 
  • Develop a support system: Share your concerns with trusted friends or professionals. They can give you new perspectives, validation, and emotional support. 
  • Adopt a gradual exposure approach: Slowly expose yourself to dating situations that trigger anxiety. Start with less challenging scenarios and move to more complex ones to help desensitize your emotional response and build confidence in handling dating-related stressors.
  • Practice patience: Be patient with yourself. Remember, forming connections and navigating the complexities of relationships take time. Understanding that dating anxiety often comes from fear of judgment or rejection can give you the space you need to learn and grow through the dating process. 

Your Dating Destiny Is in Your Hands

At some point, we all wonder why dating is so hard. Many individuals find it challenging to meet new people because of anxiety, but it’s possible to manage this and have fun connecting with others. 

Remember, not everyone knows how to date someone with anxiety. So, try these stress-busters the next time you’re getting ready for a date. With these simple tips, you can do a 180 and may just become really good at dating.

This article was reviewed by Angela Paoli.

Antonia Greco - Writer for Top10.com
Antonia Greco is an IDCA certified personal development coach, relationship expert, author, and communications graduate. For almost 15 years, she has helped clients reach their goals in life and love. Antonia has written for several leading publications, including Elite Daily, Bustle, Seattle Weekly, and Top10.com.