Dating can be tricky for anyone, but if you have social anxiety, it’s a whole different ball game. In any social situation people with social anxiety are already on edge, but dating amplifies that feeling by about a hundred. As Carrie Bradshaw famously said; “first dates are just interviews, with cocktails”. The fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’ or coming across like a loser can be all consuming, and often your brain is filled with thoughts such as “you’re acting weird, say something interesting,”.
As someone who suffers with social anxiety I’m all too familiar with these thoughts. I’ve often had visions of me moving further into the countryside, adopting thousands of dogs and living forever alone. But it is possible to date while suffering with social anxiety, you might just need a little help figuring it out. So Psych2Go shares with you 5 dating tips for people with social anxiety.
1) Be honest
And I don’t mean turn your date into a therapy appointment. Be honest with yourself. There is no point starting to date an extrovert who loves loud parties, hanging around in big crowds and doesn’t understand why sometimes you don’t want to leave the house. If you want a relationship to be successful then being honest with yourself about what you want in a partner is paramount. It might mean that you have to turn a few people down but it’s better to wait for someone who gets you rather than being forced into socialising with someone who totally isn’t right for you.
2) Suggest the activity
Following on from my previous point, if you do get asked out by someone really confident and they suggest bowling with a large group of people as an activity you’ve got two choices. The first, you decline and be honest with yourself and say that person isn’t for you, or you take control and be more assertive about the choice of venue. For example, when they ask you to go bowling, follow it up with “actually I’m not a fan of that,” or “I’d rather do this if that’s ok?”. You don’t have to go into too much detail and then you can come up with activity that you both will enjoy. Having social anxiety is hard enough without feeling uncomfortable in your surroundings.
3) Dress confident but comfy
A first date is not the time to try out a new makeup look, or a bright new jacket. Chances are, you’ll spend the whole date second guessing your choices, worry if anyone is staring at you and be on edge. This will only increase your stress levels. Choose something that makes you feel comfortable but confident. If you’ve got an outfit that you know you feel confident in then wear it! As long as you think you look good, and you feel good then your dates opinion doesn’t really matter. Also try and pick your outfit in advance so you can avoid the whole furiously attacking your wardrobe at the last minute.
4) Bring a friend
See if you can go out with a group of people so you can get to know your date with the security of your friends. Or just simply bring them with you. When my best friend went on her first date ever, she asked me to come with her as backup. They we’re going to the cinema and then for lunch. she was super nervous and asked me if I would loiter in the shopping centre they were going just in case she wanted to bail after the cinema. In the end, my dad and I went shopping and ‘bumped’ into my friend and her date. It made her feel a lot better that I was nearby and she ended up having a really good time.
It’s important to remember that this is just a date, with a person whom you really like. It can be nerve wracking at first but this is meant to be a fun time when you get to know someone a little better. Before you go on the date try to rationalise your thoughts. Remind yourself that you like this person, that you want to see them and that if it does go badly then you never have to see that person again. When you have social anxiety it can sometimes feel like you’re not in control, but you are. And remember if your date is a total moron you can always send your friend an emergency text and get you the hell out of there!
What do you think?
Do you have any dating tips? What works for you? Psych2Go would love to know! Be sure to leave a comment below!