Social Anxiety and Dating: How to Start Dating Successfully When You Have Social Anxiety

Social anxiety and dating are often thought of as mutually exclusive. If the mating ritual is hard for a shy person,the idea of dating can be downright terrifying for someone who has social anxiety disorder. So much of what happens in romantic situations requires ease of mind–the ability to “go with the flow” and be tuned into the other person–which is something that the social anxiety sufferer can find difficult, if not impossible.

However, there’s hope for the social anxiety sufferer who wants to improve his or her dating life, or even get one started. Here are a few essential tips.

Social Anxiety and Dating Tip #1—Actively Address Your Social Anxiety and Become More Social

The fact of the matter is that dating often requires more of a tightrope walk than friendships do. With friends, you can often relax and let your guard down. With dating—especially for the first several outings—a social anxiety sufferer is likely to stay on his or her toes, constantly watching for signs of approval or disapproval from the other person, and generally being too nervous to relax and enjoy the date.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to build up your social life and start addressing your social anxiety as soon as possible, whether that means getting treatment, starting a serious self-help program, and pushing yourself to join local hobbyist clubs you would be interested in.

Once you get a few casual friendships going, you’ll be experienced at holding conversations, and feeling comfortable in your own skin around people. Chances are that you’ll also be more prepared and motivated to approach someone with romantic intentions.

You’ll realize on an intuitive level that a date is just another social interaction–something you can definitely handle. That confidence will make you more attractive to your dating prospects, which always helps turn first dates into seconds and thirds.

Finally, if you start to develop a relationship with someone, working on your social anxiety will reduce the chances that it’ll creep back up and get in the way of a very good thing.

Social Anxiety and Dating Tip #2—Stop Pressuring Yourself to Get Everything Right

Dating is more of an art than a science. That means, there is room for both you and your partner to be imperfect human beings.

So what if you have an awkward laugh, or you spill your drink on the table? You have the power to simply laugh it off, and if your partner is an easygoing person who already likes you, he or she will forget it or may even find it endearing.

You might also be pressuring yourself to say the right things, or make the right physical moves. Don’t! Intimacy takes time. Just focus on enjoying your date and having a good time.

Taking the pressure off of oneself is easier said than done.  However, keep in mind that your dating partner is also human. Would you suddenly dislike the person if they made a small mistake or wasn’t the smoothest flirt? The answer is, probably not. Approach dating from that perspective and you’ll often find the pressure lifted from your shoulders.

Social Anxiety and Dating Tip #3—Meet Likeminded People in Low-Key Environments

Much of the time, when people look for dating opportunities, they head to the local bar or nightclub. Environments like these should be generally avoided by the social anxiety sufferer, unless he or she is truly comfortable in such places.

Bars and clubs often play loud music and attract crowds of loud, often rowdy people, which isn’t conducive to the socially reserved person’s attempts to meet someone special. For example, a man looking to meet a woman in a bar or club might find that she already has her guard up, might not welcome his advances, or is only expecting extroverted or talkative men to approach her.

Instead, if you have social anxiety, a better strategy may be to meet dating prospects during the day in low-key places like parks, bookstores and coffeehouses. If approaching random people in public places causes you too much anxiety, joining local hobbyist groups, volunteer organizations, and religious institutions will allow you to meet likeminded people and get to know them over time without so much pressure.

Overcoming social anxiety and dating insecurities is not impossible.  Building a solid love life doesn’t have to be a lofty goal that’s out of reach.  It’s simply a matter of becoming more social, reducing pressure on yourself to be perfect, and meeting prospects in places that suit your unique personality. Once you follow that simple plan, you’re well on your way to a fun, meaningful relationship!

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