Does my hair look stupid? Am I talking too much? This outfit looks terrible on me. They look bored – do they even like me? This was a terrible idea.

Sound familiar? Dating can feel a little uncomfortable for anyone. But when you have anxiety, it can be especially tough. 

Our Beyond Blue forums members share their experiences:

  • “I've been on a few dates here and there, but I've never been in a serious, long term relationship. I find that I'll go on a first date and I'll be nervous like any normal person, but then it's the second and third dates when my anxiety really starts to show. When I know that I actually like somebody, and I see a future with them, my anxiety is constant. I feel shaky, nauseous, tingly, I don't have as much of an appetite and many other physical effects, even if I'm not with the person...it's just always there.
  • “I've seen this guy four times now. He lives about an hour away from me so at this stage we've only seen each other once a week, but we have talked every day since our first date. I'm definitely feeling more and more comfortable with him, but this week I'll be going to his home town and I'm feeling slightly anxious about how anxious I will feel. It's so ridiculous when I say it like that but honestly, that's all I'm anxious about...anxiety!!!”

If anxiety is taking a hold and negative voices seem to constantly drown out your thoughts in romantic situations, it might be time to acknowledge that your anxiety is talking. Focus on your breathing and accept what is happening.Two people have contrasting thoughts whilst on a date

With practice, you can challenge the negative thoughts you’re experiencing. Changing self-talk is not easy and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It can be especially hard when it comes to dating because you are constantly worried about what the other person is thinking of you.

Here are some ways our forum members face anxiety head on:

  • “When I know that what I am feeling is anxiety, it makes me feel a little bit better because I know that I've dealt with it before and that it won't hang around forever.”
  • “A gentle acknowledgement of anxiety helps. Sometimes letting the thoughts and feelings hang in the air in front of you so you can examine them like a curious kid and give them names like ‘That's fear of failing’ or ‘That's scared of being hurt’ or ‘That's a reminder I felt smothered when I was being manipulated’. I've got an imaginary orange pouch I put these thoughts and feelings in after I've looked at them. That way they aren't taken in as the scary, anxiety-producing type of emotions. Instead they are accepted with neutrality and curiosity and popped in the magic orange pouch.”Two people have contrasting thoughts whilst on a date

When you have anxiety, it’s best to take new relationships slow. If you feel the relationship is progressing and the time is right, tell the other person that you deal with feelings of anxiety. This can be hard and requires a deal of trust, so don’t feel you have to rush to this point. It’s important to remember that more often than not, confiding in a trusted person and letting them know you deal with anxiety can actually strengthen your bond. Plus, it will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

You can learn more about anxiety and take the anxiety checklist here.

Related reading: Four tips to handle social anxiety in the moment

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