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Dating Anxiety: Learning to Cope and Thrive

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Many of us have experienced dating anxiety in some form throughout our romantic lives. For some, these feelings can be overwhelming and tend to dominate their dating. This is more than butterflies in your stomach and can manifest as excessive fear and concern before, during and after a date. It can negatively affect other aspects of our lives, causing many to avoid dating altogether. Let’s unpack dating anxiety, its causes, some ways to overcome it and how to stop thinking about dating to an unhealthy degree.

Signs and causes of dating anxiety

You can experience dating anxiety for many distinct reasons. It may just be nerves due to time off the dating scene after a long relationship or it may be associated with a larger social anxiety disorder. Love anxiety is common with 34% of Americans believing that relationships are the main cause of their mental health concerns1

Many people often feel a desire to come across as perfect or ideal to their date, to the extent that they overthink it and become stressed. A 2011 study suggested it may be heavily associated with a fear of rejection2.

Here are some possible symptoms of dating and relationship anxiety:

  • Lack of self-worth or confidence
  • A preoccupation with what the other person is feeling
  • An anxious or avoidant attachment style
  • Abandonment issues
  • Dating inexperience
  • Being overly accommodating on dates
  • Worries about body image3
  • A pessimistic outlook on dating and relationships
  • Obsessively comparing your dating life to others’
  • Sabotaging plans or social interactions
  • Compulsive over-analysis of words and actions
  • Easily becoming possessive
  • Sex-related anxiety

Never been in a relationship?

If you’ve never had a long-term partner, you may worry that you’re just not cut out for relationships. We look at dating with no experience and tips on how to create romantic opportunities.

According to a 2022 study published by the National Institutes of Health, people with dating anxiety experienced the following:

  • Greater appearance orientation – a measure of the importance placed on how you look and the attention you pay to it
  • Greater social physique anxiety – when you believe you are being judged by others based on appearance
  • Higher appearance-based rejection sensitivity – fear of being rejected based on how you look
  • Lower self-compassion – the ability to turn acceptance, understanding and love inward

Now let’s look at some practical solutions to your anxiety.

Avoiding dating anxiety and overcoming your fears

Dating anxiety is not officially recognized as a mental illness. What you are experiencing is likely a combination of issues but these vary from person to person.

Let’s look at some tips to tackle your anxiety, which may help you answer how to stop caring about love for its own sake and dating for yourself.

  • To boost your confidence, make a list of all the positive things you bring to the table on a date and that are going well in your love life. Focus on those during your interactions
  • Don’t let past dating experiences make you jaded. Look at every date as a fresh opportunity and don’t let your emotional baggage tag along
  • Take mental stock of what is and isn’t under your control on a date. Only one is worth focusing on
  • If you’re wondering how to stop thinking about dating negatively, maintain a positive and constructive attitude before and during dates. This will help with self-doubt
  • Avoid the topic of dating with overly critical friends and family
  • Remember that your value as a person is not decided by your love life
  • Go into your date with a mindset of having fun rather than looking for love
  • Take good care of your mental and physical health to enhance self-confidence and help you feel calmer on dates
  • There’s no rush to find someone. Let go of any urgency and appreciate dating for the experience itself
  • It’s okay to not date. If you don’t feel in the right mental space it’s fine to just take some time off for yourself

The effectiveness of online dating for relationship anxiety

Online dating is useful and convenient tool for those wondering how to stop worrying about finding love. It’s a low-pressure format for interacting with singles, while having an intermediary between you and the other person – in the form of the platform and the text-messaging format – reduces the social anxiety of one-on-one interactions.

A large part of dating anxiety is a desire for greater control. Online dating lets you curate your profile and how you come across in communication. It also gives you the chance to get to know the person beforehand, making first dates less uncertain.

However, it’s important to not tie your value to these efforts. Remember that online dating takes patience and some change-ups in approach as you get the hang of it.

Why am I Single?

Next to dating anxiety some singles also wonder why they are still single. We look for an answer to the age-old question ‘Why am I single?’, with some tips for successful dating and factors affecting why you are still single.

Learn to date without fear

eharmony makes online dating straightforward and tailored to you as an individual, ideal for people who experience dating anxiety. For over 20 years, we’ve focused on connecting people based on their compatibility and our results speak for themselves: every 14 minutes, someone finds love on eharmony.

We help you find dates with people you don’t have to feel anxious around. By connecting you with eligible singles through compatibility rather than swiping, we ensure more positive interactions with like-minded people, paving the way for dates that are natural and authentic. Give eharmony a try today and see for yourself.  

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