You might think that social anxiety and dating are two things that don’t go well together. Throw in a global pandemic and social distancing, and the whole thing can set off alarm bells for all of us.
This is where online dating comes in. It’s common for those who experience social anxiety to lean heavily on internet relationships, instead of face-to-face situations, because they feel safer and more controllable. Although online messaging can be a great way to get to know someone, healthy relationships really benefit from in-person connections.
Though part of you might feel that it’s better to be alone to avoid the rising panic in your chest, we as human beings are hard-wired to connect physically with others. So, what can you do to make the dating process easier if you suffer from social anxiety?
6 Social Anxiety and Dating Tips to Make the Process Easier
1. Focus on yourself first
Your number one priority is to learn to be happy on your own before even thinking about dating. Too many people date because they feel pressured to couple up and settle down, but this is the fastest way to end up with the wrong person and in a toxic relationship.
If the thought of dating worries you right now, then forget about it for a while. Focus on yourself instead. Try new hobbies, take a new class, focus your energy on your career, and spend more quality time with your friends.
2. Try a virtual date
If you struggle with social anxiety and dating, a virtual date can be a good starting point. These have sky-rocketed in popularity since the pandemic, and show no sign of disappearing. Even pre-pandemic, many people enjoyed going on a virtual date before meeting up in person because it can help you gauge whether you’ve got chemistry.
Many online dating apps and sites have enabled video calls within their features, and if not, you can try Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, or Google Meet. And there’s no reason why it can’t be fun! Try making cocktails together or cooking a fancy dinner.
You can even get the taste of traveling together by trying out a virtual city tour. Platforms like Zoosk Great Dates offer interactive guided tours, all from the comfort of your sofa! From exploring the ancient monuments of Athens to checking out the hustle and bustle of Kyoto, you and your date can enjoy an instant adventure together.
These virtual experiences are not only fun, but they can also be a great way to get the convo flowing if you’re feeling a little bit anxious.
3. Simplify what dating actually means
We put so much pressure on dating, don’t we? Let’s stop doing that. When you simplify it, dating is no more than two people meeting up and having a chat.
A date is a way to get to know someone better. All you need to do that is have an open mind and some healthy curiosity. And, if you’re physically attracted to someone, you’re probably curious about them already.
4. Only date when you feel ready to
The pandemic has turned the world of dating on its head. It’s made a lot of non-anxious people anxious, and the already anxious, even more anxious! We all have different beliefs and viewpoints when it comes to sticking to guidelines and getting vaccinations, and that’s okay, but it can make the prospect of dating even scarier.
What’s important is that you’re patient and non-judgmental with yourself and others. Date when you feel ready to, and don’t set any strict timelines for yourself.
5. Make sure you feel comfortable (ish)
When you’re ready to start dating again, think about an environment or situation that would help you feel most comfortable. Maybe going for a walk, meeting in a buzzing coffee shop, or meeting up with a friend would help ease your anxiety? Think about what makes you feel more relaxed about the idea of dating.
What’s important to remember is that dating usually pushes us outside our comfort zone. We’re meeting someone new, and it’s difficult to know what to expect. So while you want to make sure you feel comfortable (ish), you’ll also need to push past your self-imposed limits.
6. If you suffer from social anxiety, be honest
Being honest with the person in front of you is one of the best ways to tackle social anxiety and dating. When someone can be authentic and vulnerable with you, it’s incredibly endearing. Besides, everyone has issues that they’re dealing with. Who knows how your date is feeling? Maybe they’re anxious too.
So be honest about this when you’re deciding where to meet: “I’d rather do this/meet at X instead… is that okay?” And when you’re on the date and the conversation starts rolling, don’t be afraid to say how nervous you are. The right person will be more attracted to you for your honesty.
Social anxiety and dating might come with some extra hurdles but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time and make long-lasting connections. What’s important is that you focus on yourself, take things slowly, be honest with your partner, and don’t be afraid to step away if things don’t feel right. This will help to make the dating process easier and before you know it, you can be planning exciting dates and fun nights out too!