Dating anxiety

Although it is normal to feel anxious about dating, from flirting or asking someone out to "making the first move", for many people dating anxiety can be debilitating. Fear of rejection, lack of confidence, and fear of getting hurt can make dating an acutely uncomfortable and aversive experience.

In an effort to cope with the difficult feelings that dating evokes, people frequently avoid dating-related behaviours, activities, and interactions. Dating-related avoidance can take many forms, such as avoiding dressing in a way that may attract sexual attention, avoiding non-verbal encouragement of others' interest, avoiding talking and interacting with people you find attractive, pretending to be fiercely independent and scornful of dating, or rarely talking about feelings of attraction to others. People are not always aware that they are engaging in these kinds of avoidance strategies. Often the avoidance has become automatic and second nature.

Another way in which dating anxiety can affect behaviour is that you may feel so anxious that it is very difficult to be yourself on dates. This can create a sense that you are being forced, artificial or awkward, making it difficult to get relationships off the ground.

Fear of dating and associated coping patterns can have significant consequences in a person's life. By acting disinterested, avoiding and not being themselves, people can create a reality in which they have very few romantic encounters. This can be lonely and isolating, and can reinforce beliefs that "there's something wrong with me", or "I'm unattractive" or "unlovable".

Learning how to address and resolve your dating anxiety means that you can get out of your own way, build confidence, and give yourself the chance to form intimate bonds.

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