“Put yourself out there!”
“It’ll be fun, just give it a try!”
“You don’t know until you do it!”
“It’s not going to be as bad as you think.”
“That’s how my [insert any random woman they know] found her husband!”
Sound familiar? Our friends and family are well-meaning. They love us. They want us to thrive. Start living our best life. In fact, they may be encouraging us to do the very thing we have been clear that we want to do! But. There’s always a “but”. And, that’s the issue. You WANT to date. Or, you at least want to meet someone who you find interesting, engaging, fun…whatever. You want to either find a special person or be in a relationship. So, the topic of dating has come up once or twice. Or, a million times. BUT, the whole thing stresses you out. Maybe you are scared of dating. Or, keep making excuses to avoid it. Dating anxiety has taken hold, and you’re not really sure where to go from here.
How does dating anxiety look?
Did you know there’s an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” playlist on Amazon Music? Probably any other music streaming platform too. But, the point is that there are so many songs all about getting scorned. Left. Cheated on. Broken. Of course, there’s some empowerment in there too, thanks to Queen B, P!nk, and other incredible women. The point is, the playlist exists. The hurt, pain, and anger that people feel after bad experiences with love and dating are well documented. Whether you have dated a lot, or are just trying to figure it out, it’s scary. Dating can feel like you’ve been pushed into the deep end of the pool without a raft and you’ve either got to sink or swim. In fact, some people with dating anxiety have panic-like symptoms. Either while talking with someone new, waiting for them to respond, or while preparing to meet. Dating anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms of panic right before or even during your dates.
Dating Anxiety at the Beginning
Making the decision to start dating can be a big one. Perhaps you just graduated, or moved, or got your first job, and now you’ve decided to “get serious” about finding someone. Or, you recently got out of a relationship or have started dating after divorce? These are all vulnerable times for people. Women, especially, tend to internalize so much of the social pressure around dating. We can talk ourselves in or out of something pretty artfully. If you deal with dating anxiety, getting started may take even longer than you expected. First, you have to get over your own negative self-talk. This idea that no one will like you for YOU. Yes, this could stem from past hurt or rejection. But, remember, that relationship clearly wasn’t fully serving you! Otherwise, you’d still be in it. So, that person’s rejection and criticism is not yours to carry. We are often our own worst critics, but if you wouldn’t say those things to your best friend, please don’t say them to yourself! Build yourself up for dating, just like you would for her.
The trap of “waiting for the right time”
Another way dating anxiety can present is this idea of being perfectly “ready” to start. There is always something else to “get done” before you are ready to put yourself out there. Such as exercising more, buying something, making more money, living on your own, etc. Of course, if you need to work some things out to heal past hurts, do that. Relationship counseling for singles can be so powerful to help identify and avoid repeating toxic patterns. If you need to evaluate priorities first, please do. But, if you find yourself saying, “I’ll start dating after my taxes are filed”, you may just be letting your anxiety drive things more than it needs to.
Dating Through Dating Anxiety
Perhaps, you don’t like online dating. Yes, it’s sort of inevitable these days. You can certainly ask your friends to set you up, or even try to meet someone out and about once we’re spending more time out and about again (Ooh, are you using COVID as an excuse to not date? Or, are you being health-conscious? That one is tricky! Let’s talk.) Regardless, online dating will probably be a part of your dating journey in 2021 and beyond. Maybe, it has not worked for you in the past and you don’t see the point? Makes sense. But, could all of this be your anxiety holding you back? If you are able to find a way around online dating, awesome. If it’s actually the dating anxiety we’ve been discussing, you may need someone to help you make the leap. We’ve talked before about having some trusted advisors in your corner. Maybe it’s time to tag them in? Your friends want to help you! Your single friends even want to commiserate with you! So, let them. Online dating has its imperfections and challenges, but you can navigate this with grace and some great pals.
Boundaries. Of course, I’m going to mention them!
You didn’t think I was going to miss this, did you? Boundary setting and boundary management are critical for so many aspects of your life! From daily routines to communicating with your family, healthy boundaries are key. Of course, with dating anxiety, boundaries can be a casualty of the process as well. When you are already anxious about dating, fearing rejection, or just apprehensive in general, you might forget to set boundaries. While dating, you may end up allowing those people-pleasing behaviors to sneak back in, even when you know better. I recently spoke with a friend who could tell me all of the “red flags” she saw in this new guy she was talking to. When I asked her why she started talking to him, she said she thought maybe he was actually a nice guy in spite of his arrogant, narcissistic-sounding profile. This is something people think about a lot! But, it’s also a well-documented trap to fall into. Dr. Maya Angelou brilliantly said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Could he actually be a great guy with a dumb sense of humor? Sure. But, that’s not her minefield to navigate. Especially, when she’s already anxious about dating and has a hard time setting boundaries.
Waiting and Wishing with Dating Anxiety
A few final things that dating anxiety can make even more difficult are waiting for a “match” and waiting for people to respond. I won’t go down a whole rabbit hole about the psychology of dating apps or try to placate you about the process. It DOES take time. That said, anxious people can get a set amount of time in their head about how long something should take. It helps provide parameters that can help keep anxiety at bay…but, only when those timelines happen to work out. But, all too often, those arbitrary timelines are not going to actually pan out that way. For example, a person with dating anxiety might track how long it takes for someone to text/call and use that to determine how interested they are. Keeping those unspoken expectations and holding someone else to them will often not work out the way we might want. And, it can make dating anxiety even worse.
Begin Dating Anxiety Treatment for Women in Miramar, FL or Start Online Therapy in Florida
You don’t have to deal with the anxiety of dating alone. Not only should you have your trusted friends and advisors around, but a quality therapist who “gets it” would help. To begin therapy for women in Broward County in-person or for online therapy in Florida, follow these three steps:
Contact Counseling Solutions of Boward to schedule your free 20-minute consultation on a video platform,
Meet with Enid and get to know her!
Live life with more security and confidence as a fully whole, beautiful human.
Other Therapy Services Offered at Counseling Solutions of Broward:
In addition to providing anxiety treatment for women in Florida, Enid De Jesus offers a variety of mental health services at her counseling clinic in Broward County, FL. Her goal is to create lasting transformative change and growth in your life. So, she offers codependency therapy, depression treatment, counseling for imposter syndrome, after divorce counseling, and relationship counseling for one. For more information on counseling, please check out her what to expect page or contact her counseling office.