How to Manage Online Dating Anxiety | The Column
Online dating anxiety is real. It genuinely keeps me up at night, because I worry about every outcome. I worry about the obvious things, like stranger danger and the importance of keeping yourself safe. I think that’s engrained into every woman who has ever tried online dating.
However, what really worries me tends to seem small, until you are the one in the driving seat. It’s the act of talking to strangers; it’s the fear of rejection; it’s the fact that this could go wrong, could be just okay, or could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
For me, it’s the fear of the unknown, mostly. You don’t know the other person, and you’re relying on them to tell you the truth about themselves. Online dating can make you feel like you’re not in control, and I think that’s where a lot of anxiety comes from.
There is good news, if you’re like me and want to overcome these anxieties. I’ve compiled a few tips here to help ease your busy mind when it comes to approaching online dating.
1. You decide your pace
Putting yourself in the driver’s seat is the only way to make yourself feel in control. Try not to let other people pressure you into dating if you’re not ready for it. You know your comfort level, so do what feels right.
2. Nerves are natural
You are in control, but it is important to remember that nerves are natural. The process of dating is naturally anxiety-inducing, even to the most confident people. Those nerves are there to gently push you out of your comfort zone.
Nerves don’t necessarily mean you have dating anxiety. Don’t stop because you are anxious – unless the fear is taking over your life, then it is important to step back and look after yourself.
3. Establish your boundaries
Some people struggle with this, especially when it comes to dating. You want to come across as care-free and amenable, but don’t given in to things if you feel uncomfortable. If you want to take things slower, but the person you’re talking to is being pushy, have the conversation with them about boundaries.
Be honest with them. If they disagree, or make you feel uncomfortable, then it’s totally okay to say goodbye to them.
4. Don’t judge a book by its cover (too much)
The beauty of online dating is that there are so many people you can talk to out there. We’ve never had so much choice in partners. But this can come at a price. It can make the process of dating very superficial with the rise of swipe culture.
Instead of swiping through hundreds of people, take the time to evaluate each profile before swiping left or right. The girl you might have written off could be your soulmate. The guy flaunting his six pack may not be right for you. Take your time.
On the other hand, if you’re not feeling a match because you know for sure that you’re not physically attracted to someone, you’re not obligated to talk to them. Do what feels right for you.
5. Bring up deeper subjects
Dating is meant to be fun. It’s exciting getting to know someone new. However, past the common ‘hey’ or ‘wyd’, it can feel disappointing when you want to know who people truly are. Instead of using questions like ‘how’s your day,’ asking something more open-ended like ‘what is your opinion on x.’ That way, you can filter out people and actually have interesting conversations with people, and make you excited to talk to them, rather than obligated.
At the end of the day, online dating is meant to be fun. What sets it apart from IRL dating is that the person you are talking to is a stranger. For now.
By dating on your terms, and not letting people push you around, you set yourself up for finding someone worthwhile, and making all that anxiety you had worth it.
So, when it comes to online dating remember:
It’s your choice. Do what makes you happy and don’t let yourself be pressured into anything you don’t want to do.
You don’t owe the stranger you are talking to anything. You owe yourself your own happiness.
Take your time. Don’t rush into anything and it will ease you into the world of online dating.
Online dating can be incredibly rewarding. Don’t let bad experiences necessarily swear you off it.
Take ‘dating app breaks’ when you want to. Sometimes you need them to ease your anxiety and figure out what you want.
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