Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience for even the most confident person out there. For anxious singles, navigating the world of coffee dates, online profiles and bars can be paralyzing.
Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, a psychologist and the author of the new book “Single, Shy, and Looking for Love: A Dating Guide for the Shy and Socially Anxious,” insists that the search for a partner doesn’t have to break your heart or your spirit. “I am sort of a hopeless romantic,” she says. “I want people to be happy and to be in a relationship if they want to be.” We asked her for her tips for anxious daters.
A lack of self-confidence and self-acceptance are two of the biggest problems anxious people face, says Kolakowski. “You can learn how to accept your anxiety,” says Kolakowski. “People think that if there is anxiety, that means I can’t date. My anxiety doesn’t have to define me.”
Define your ultimate goals
“What is it that you want from your life?” asks Kolakowski. “How can we reprioritize to get what you want? Are you valuing your anxiety over a potential relationship?”
If you feel like you are letting your anxiety run your life, working on relaxation techniques and tracking your emotions can help you separate your social anxiety from the reality of the situation. When it comes to relationships, “it is only going to get easier with time,” she says.
Don’t takeall the blame
One of the worst things an anxious person can do while dating is assume all of the blame when things don’t work out. “Remember that dating is 50-50,” says Kolakowski. “It’s not all on your shoulders.” Obviously, your dating partner plays a big part in how things ultimately turn out. “Dating doesn’t always work out, and that’s OK,” she reminds readers.
You can do it
Anxious people tend to endlessly ruminate on mistakes. In those cases, Kolakowski urges clients to take a step back. “Why are they telling themselves this story?” she asks. “Because these are all stories. … You can say, ‘My story can include love again.’”
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.