Are you one of those people who gets confused whenever they have to talk with someone new? Especially if you like that person, words just won’t come out properly. What does dating with social anxiety actually look like?
Social anxiety usually starts during the teenage years and it simply doesn’t go away for some people. Others get better as they get older.
Some symptoms of this disorder are a constant fear of being criticized, low self-esteem, and continuous worry that something may go wrong or that they may say something inappropriate. It can be an extremely difficult task to meet new people, socialize, and spend time with a group of people.
In some extreme cases, a person with social anxiety can have panic attacks lasting several minutes in some of these situations. They may start shaking and sweating, and their heart starts beating faster.
If you’re a person with social anxiety and you’re here because you want to figure out how to deal with the problems you encounter every time you want to start dating, congrats! You’re well aware of the problem and you’re ready to work to better yourself.
I’m not going to lie, it will take some time and practice, but I’m sure you can do it. I mean, you already took the first step!
Here are a couple of tips that can help you fight social anxiety the next time you go out on a date.
1. Practice makes perfect
This has been said for a reason and it can easily be applied to this case as well. In case you’re struggling with social anxiety, try to practice before the date. Same as the experts explain how to beat the fear of public speaking, stand in front of a mirror and practice what you’d like to say to someone.
Another thing that can help is if you simply go out and talk with people when it’s not a priority to meet someone new. Face your fears and practice approaching people.
Online dating is a thing lately, so use it to your advantage as well. It may be easier to meet someone in person once you’ve already exchanged a couple of words. Just be careful, since the online world isn’t always the safest place.
2. Focus on the present moment
When you’re out on a date, focus on what’s happening right then and there. Try not to think about the past or future. Embrace the moment you’re in.
Focus on the food you’re eating, notice the colors around you, and acknowledge how you’re feeling. If it feels like anxiety may kick in, just be honest about it. Everyone appreciates honesty, that I’m sure of, and your date is probably no exception.
3. Talk about the things that are important to you
To relax a bit more when you’re talking with someone new, talk about all those things that are important to you. Talk about your hobbies, adventures you’ve been on, and anything that makes you feel calm. Those things define you, not your anxiety.
This way, it will be more comfortable for you in a new environment and you won’t feel the need to run away. However, don’t be the one who’s talking nonstop – let your date share something they enjoy doing as well.
4. Suggest a place to meet, rather than going somewhere you won’t feel comfortable
If you’re afraid that your social anxiety may mess up another date, trick it. A panic attack usually happens when you’re in an unknown environment and in a situation that you think you can’t control. So, adjust the date to yourself.
You can be the one to suggest the place where the two of you meet, and make sure that it’s someplace you like and enjoy spending time at. It will be easier for you to relax and focus if you’re in a familiar, comfortable space.
5. Ask for your friend’s help
That’s what friends are for, right? To help you in tough situations. In this case, don’t be afraid to ask for moral support from your friends.
They can send you supportive messages before the date – because sometimes a simple “You can do it!” message can do wonders.
Also, if you really want to go to that party, but your social anxiety is stopping you, grab your bestie’s hand and just think about it as another adventure with them. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
6. Listen to your body
If your anxiety kicks in, that means there is something wrong. Simply listen to your body. You have certain boundaries that you’ll move as you grow as a person, but if at any point you feel uncomfortable, abort the mission.
Don’t force yourself to do things others want you to do, just so you fit in better. You are perfect the way you are, so embrace yourself completely. You have a lot to offer to others, don’t forget that.
7. Don’t jump to conclusions
Please, don’t jump to conclusions. When we experience an anxiety episode, we tend to overthink and overanalyze everything. There’s no reason for that.
Just because the person you went out with on a date didn’t compliment your outfit or hairstyle, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Who knows, maybe you left them speechless!
8. Learn breathing techniques that can help prevent panic attacks
When you have severe anxiety symptoms, hyperventilation can happen. This means you start breathing quickly and so your body receives more oxygen than it actually needs. You may experience chest pain and dizziness, as if you’re about to faint.
There are different breathing techniques that can help you in these moments and you can apply them every time you feel like some problems may appear.
For example, inhale through your nose for 5-ish seconds, hold your breath in for 3-4 seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth for approximately 7-8 seconds. This won’t make hyperventilation simply go away, but it may prevent panic attacks and lessen the symptoms.
9. Stay busy after the date
Don’t think too much about how your date went or if the other person likes you or not. The most important thing is that it has passed and you survived it. When you’re struggling with social anxiety, your thoughts may be occupied by all the things you could have said differently.
So, try to keep your mind busy after the date. Go out with your friends, watch something on Netflix, or finally start reading that book on your nightstand.
10. Be persistent
The final tip I can give you is to be persistent. Don’t give up after the first failure. Everyone is bound to fail at some point or another, so there’s no need to worry about another person leaving. The right one will accept you completely, anxiety and all.
So be confident in yourself, start mingling, and maybe at the next party you go to, you’ll meet your soulmate. For all you know, he may just be fighting the same battles.
You never know who’s waiting around the corner. Be brave and conquer your fears, princess!