If you’ve ever had that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling pre-date or frantically Googled “what to talk about on a first date,” you’re probably familiar with dating anxiety.
While jitters are normal, the negative impulses that often accompany them can keep you from finding the love and connection you deserve. Fortunately, with treatment and practice, anxiety can be managed.
1. Fear of rejection
If you’re constantly avoiding situations that could lead to rejection, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. A therapist can teach you skills to manage your fear and expose you to situations that challenge your fears without the negative consequences (i.e., anxiety).
People who have a fear of rejection often think that they’re not good enough. This can be a result of past experiences or underlying issues such as depression, poor self-esteem, and anxiety.
Using avoidance coping methods to deal with the fear of rejection can actually make it worse. Instead, work on developing confidence by putting yourself out there and connecting with people. Trust that every conversation is a learning opportunity. Over time, you’ll learn that rejection is not as scary as you might think.
2. Fear of failure
People with relationship anxiety often have unrealistic expectations of what a healthy relationship should look like. They may worry their partner will find someone better or be suspicious of their honesty and trustworthiness. This insecurity leads to overanalyzing and overthinking, which isn’t good for either person involved.
Additionally, many anxious daters have a tendency to overestimate how harshly their date will judge them in social situations. If something goes awry, they’ll beat themselves up for hours or days afterwards.
These negative beliefs about relationships can be rooted in attachment styles formed during childhood, as well as other anxiety constructs such as FRO and fear of being rejected (FFR). Acknowledging that these fears are unhelpful and unhealthy is a first step to managing them. Then, a counselor or coach can help develop coping strategies.
3. Fear of being judged
Silent judgements are often made without us even realizing it. They’re snap opinions that are formed and then quickly forgotten. But this doesn’t mean they don’t matter.
People with dating anxiety often think that their partner is judging them harshly. This is a result of the internal monologue they have about themselves, which usually has very negative assumptions.
While it’s natural to feel anxious when dating, it becomes a problem if the anxiety leads to doubt and stress. If that’s the case, a person may benefit from speaking to a healthcare professional about their anxiety. This can help them to understand their irrational fears and manage them in a healthy way. A professional can also suggest treatment options that could help them overcome their fear of being judged.
4. Fear of being alone
Women who fear being alone may find it difficult to travel or run errands without someone by their side. They might also have trouble maintaining friendships and romantic relationships if their need for company is too demanding or clingy.
People who have a fear of being alone can learn to overcome it through psychotherapy. One way to do this is through desensitization, which involves slowly exposing yourself to the situation you’re afraid of while using techniques to keep yourself calm.
Often, this fear of being alone stems from childhood experiences. For example, if a person feels abandoned by their parents, they might grow up to associate being alone with feeling unloved. It’s important to understand where this anxiety comes from so you can work to overcome it.
Oftentimes, people who fear rejection become overwhelmed by the feeling that they can’t be themselves because of it. They can be overly critical of themselves or other people and have a hard time asking for help. They may also let people take advantage of them because they are afraid to be rejected.
It’s normal to feel nervous before a date, but when anxiety becomes severe and persistent, it can be damaging. People who suffer from dating anxiety may start to avoid social situations, avoid talking to people, and withdraw from their friends and family.
Rejection can hurt but it’s important to remember that most of the time, people who reject you don’t necessarily hate you, just that your personality or actions don’t fit with theirs in that moment.