How do I avoid dating anxiety and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed?
Everyone goes into the dating process hoping for an exciting and fun experience. Yet all too often it turns into an overwhelming and stressful job. This is especially true for people coming back to dating later in life.
- There are too many partners to choose from in the dating apps and sites.
- There is uncertainty about the best way to navigate the whole process.
- There is doubt about how many apps and sites can a person reasonably manage.
- There is skepticism about ever being able to screen everyone to find a compatible match.
And when the going gets tough, it can seem like the rest of the world is having fun while the struggling dater feels alone and dissatisfied.
The Antidote to Dating Anxiety and Overwhelm
If you’re overwhelmed and anxious about the dating process, here are some tips to help you stay grounded and just as importantly, have a little fun along the way.
Set realistic expectations
Get your mindset about dating squared away by setting reasonable expectations. The dating process takes time and patience, and it’s not always going to be easy.
Instead of expecting to find the perfect match on your first date, expect that you’ll be going on plenty of dates.
Think of the dating process as a way to get to know different people. Enjoy that experience. There are lots of wonderful human beings in the world, yet not all of them will be compatible partners. You might meet some potential good friends along the way.
If you get lucky on your first couple of dates, like I did with Daisy, count your blessings!
Give the dating process time
Don’t pressure yourself to find the perfect match right away. There’s no need to rush into a serious relationship. It’s essential to get to know someone before committing to a long-term partnership. This takes time.
Don’t forget about self-care
A divorced friend recently called to say he was stressed out. Turns out he had four dates scheduled for the coming week and had already had one date the night before. His car had broken down, he was busy at work, and his kids had activities to attend. My suggestion—cancel the dates. He did, and the anxiety lifted.
The dating process can be draining, so don’t forget to take care of yourself and focus on your own needs and wants.
This may mean taking a break from dating altogether or simply slowing down and not seeing as many people at once.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation or journaling to manage stress and stay grounded in the present moment.
Focus on deeper connections with potential partners
Rather than just focusing on prospective date’s appearance or more superficial qualities, slow down and think about genuine connection.
Instead of swiping left or right on dating apps, take a minute to read someone’s profile. Take a chance and send them a message to get a sense of who they really are. Have a quick video date if the dating site has that feature.
Set and keep personal boundaries
Boundaries are essential for a healthy relationship, even at the dating stage.
Set boundaries and stick to them. They lay the foundation for a future relationship. Boundaries help to screen out incompatible partners. After all, someone who won’t respect a boundary on or before the first date is not going to be a good partner.
Decide what you’re comfortable with and set limits on what you can accept in another’s behavior and your own. At the appropriate time, communicate those boundaries to your potential partners.
Boundaries can include many things like:
- not wanting to see someone more than once a week
- not being ready for a serious relationship
- only wanting to do daytime dates at a coffee shop
- not being ready for a sexual relationship until you get to know them better
- not dating smokers or drinkers
- not dating people outside a desired age range
and so on.
Don’t compare yourself to others
A wise person once told me that comparisons are faulty by nature. When I compare, I’m comparing my insides with someone else’s outsides.
It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Yet everyone has their own journey and timeline when it comes to dating and relationships.
Everyone’s experience is unique. And as an onlooker, we don’t know what’s going on inside them, their true emotions. That only happens once we get to know the person better.
Final Thoughts on Dating Anxiety and Overwhelm
In summary, dating anxiety is to be expected, especially if it’s been a long time since your last experience with dating. The following practices can prevent anxious or overwhelming feelings:
- Set realistic expectations
- Give the dating process time
- Don’t forget about self-care
- Focus on deeper connections with potential partners
- Set and keep personal boundaries
- Don’t compare yourself to others
Be patient and enjoy the journey of finding a compatible partner.
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Want to put together your own dating game plan?