Dealing With Anxiety When Dating Someone You Like

Dr. Carol Morgan

Remember when you were a kid and you had a crush on the popular boy or girl? And you didn’t think that they would ever give you the time of day? I’m sure you can remember that.

We all have crushes in our lives, and along with them comes doubt and anxiety.

But now you’re an adult. So why are you feeling the same old feelings of anxiety as you did when you were in junior high school? Shouldn’t you be over it by now?

No. Absolutely not.

If you find that you get anxious when you are on a date with someone you really like, then you’re not alone. Many people – both men and women alike – feel this way. It’s natural and normal.

That is very important to remember: anxiety is natural and normal.

But let’s face it – no one likes to feel anxious, right? So, what can we do about it?

Well, let’s start by defining exactly what anxiety is, and then later, we’ll talk about how to effectively deal with it.

What is Anxiety?

I’m sure we all think we know what anxiety is because most of us have felt it at one time or another in our lives. Some people live with it on a daily basis, and they are usually thought to have what’s called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This is characterized by a persistent, excessive worrying about everyday events and activities which a person finds difficult to control.

But we’re not talking about everyday anxiety – we’re here to talk about a very specific kind: dating anxiety.

Regardless of what someone feels anxious about – whether it is paying their bills or going out on a date – the feeling is still the same.

Sometimes anxiety is rooted in real problems, such as knowing that you are going to have to score a big sale or lose your job. But other anxiety is just perceived. In other words, it’s a worry that is almost made up in our minds that doesn’t necessarily even really exist. That’s the kind that dating anxiety is all about.

What Causes Anxiety?

The causes of anxiety are plentiful, and the specific source of it varies wildly from person to person. But at the core of it lies the perception that we are being threatened in some way.

Back in the cave man days, this anxiety served a good purpose. If we knew we were being threatened by a lion that wanted to make us its next meal, then the anxiety would propel us to run away and save ourselves.

But in today’s society, we are no longer running away from lions.

Now, most people feel anxiety when their emotional or mental stability is being “threatened” – whether it really is or not.

This could be our ego, our self-esteem, and how we generally feel about ourselves.

So, in terms of dating, your anxiety could come from a variety of places. For example:

  1. Thinking you are not attractive enough for your date.
  2. Thinking you don’t have enough money to impress them.
  3. Thinking you are too shy to have an interesting conversation.
  4. Thinking you are too short or too tall.
  5. Thinking your car isn’t nice enough.
  6. Thinking you should be taking them out to a fancy place.
  7. Thinking you won’t have enough to talk about on the date.
  8. Thinking you are out of practice when it comes to dating.
  9. Thinking you don’t know if you should kiss them or not.
  10. Thinking pretty much any other thought that may or may not even be true.

As you can see, the word “thinking” was used for every statement above. That is because that’s all it is – a thought. Thoughts aren’t always rational. And they aren’t always right. You can think something all you want, but it doesn’t make it a reality.

And everything is relative too. For example, maybe you are a man and you feel insecure because you are 5’7” and think you are too short. Well, if you go out with a woman who is 5’10” or taller, then there may be a reason for this thought. On the other hand, they may not really care about your height. But if you go out with a woman who is 5’2”, suddenly you are not so short.

Get my point?

The bottom line here is that once you realize that your anxieties are simply nothing more than thoughts – thoughts that can be changed – then it doesn’t feel so scary.

What Dating and Relationship Anxiety Looks Like

Anxiety in dating and relationships is the fear of being lonely, but sometimes messing up by doing and saying things that just reinforce our fears. You can care too much, yet still act carelessly because of your anxiety.

One of the main challenges that anxiety sufferers face in dating and new relationships is getting their needs met. In other words, they want reassurance, consistency, and accommodating behaviors from the other person. And sometimes this behavior can be seen as being “needy,” which is obviously not the image you want to portray.

Instead, you want to overcome your anxious thoughts and replace them with feelings of confidence. But it all starts with becoming aware of the thoughts running through your head.

We can’t change what we don’t recognize. So, you have to begin with admitting you have anxious thoughts and identifying exactly what they are.

Dealing with Anxiety When Dating

If you are suffering from dating anxiety, don’t worry! It can be dealt with. You are not doomed to feel negative feelings of anxiousness every time you go out on a date. Here are some tips for how to deal with anxiety.

Keep a Journal

As I said above, it all starts with identifying why you are anxious. What specific thoughts are causing you this anxiety? Let’s say one of the dominant feelings is that you have just been divorced and you haven’t been out on a date in 20 years. Okay, no problem.

So what? Who cares? It’s not like you’ve never been out on a date, right? I mean, you got married! Just because it’s been a while doesn’t mean you’re going to be “bad” at dating. It’s like riding a bike. You might need to practice a little, but it will all come back to you in time.

As you can see, keeping a journal of your negative thoughts will help you challenge them and turn them into positive ones.


A lot of people think of meditation as kind of “woo-woo” and weird. But meditation is not restricted to Buddhist monks! It’s a very common practice in today’s world that has a lot of health benefits.

Meditating helps slow your breathing and your racing thoughts. You might want to try guided meditation which has music and someone’s voice leading you through it. However you decide to go about it, if you do it on a regular basis (especially right before a date), you will automatically be more calm and collected.


This might sound corny, but there really is scientific evidence to back up that it really works. What you would do is to close your eyes and envision the date(s) in your head. Picture how happy she looks, how confident you feel, and what a great time you are having. Replay it over and over in your mind.

The reason this works is because the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. So, the more you visualize, the more your subconscious will think it’s true. And therefore, you will eventually manifest it as your outside reality.


Hypnosis gets a bad rap, in my opinion. That’s because usually when you think about hypnosis, you think of someone making a fool out of themselves by clucking like a chicken in front of an audience.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are many different types of hypnosis tapes or mp3’s you can download that will help you with your anxiety. All it takes is a little Google search to find it. It works for the same reason that visualization does. You are re-programming your subconscious mind so you can make it more positive.

Get off Social Media

While social media can be fun, it can also be detrimental to our self-esteem. Most people post the “best version” of themselves, which is often more of a false version. They want everyone to think that their life is perfect.

It’s for this reason that Facebook should probably be re-named FAKEbook! Sometimes it’s difficult not to compare yourself (and your life) to others’. So, why not just get off it for a while? That way you won’t be tempted to get down on yourself.

Role Play

Maybe part of your dating anxiety is that you don’t know what to say or how to act. That’s okay – it takes practice. So why not grab a friend and role play? They can pretend to be your date, and you can develop a dating style that works for you.

If you’re a man and want to date a woman, then it’s best to do this with a woman if possible. And vice versa if you are a woman. It doesn’t matter if it’s your sister or brother, your cousin, your mom, or a colleague. As long as you practice it with someone. Then ask them for feedback. What could you have done better? What worked for them and what didn’t? What tips can they give you to be more confident next time?

Practice with Other People You Aren’t as Interested in

Of course, people are the most nervous around people they like the best. This is because they are feeling inadequate. They want to impress the person, and therefore, that pressure creates anxiety.

In order to overcome that, try going out with people who you aren’t as interested in. That’s not to say that you should lead them on, but instead, view it as practice. If you aren’t sitting across the table from someone who looks like a super model, then you will likely get used to being more confident on a date.

Practice Self-Disclosure

Some people struggle with talking about themselves or opening up about their life. That’s okay. If you are one of these people, then you should practice. Some find self-disclosure risky, but really, it’s the only way you can really get to know someone and find out if the two of you are compatible.

So, grab a friend and practice telling them things about yourself – even if they already know. Have them ask you questions so you can get used to opening up to another person. Trust me, a lot of people like others who are emotionally available, and this starts with being able to connect with them by sharing yourself.

Focus on Them, and Not Yourself

In addition to talking about yourself, you also need to make sure you ask them about themselves too. People do like talking about themselves, and putting yourself into the role of a listener can take the pressure off the nervousness you are feeling.

Think of some questions ahead of time that you would like to know about them. Where did they grow up? What was their family like? What do they do for a living? Do they have kids? What makes them laugh? Have some of these questions in the back of your mind so you can get to know them better.

Do Something Fun on the Date

Dates don’t always have to be dinner and wine. Sometimes they can be active and fun. If you plan this sort of date, then you don’t have to worry so much about looking at them face-to-face and only focusing on conversation during the date.

Maybe you could play mini golf, go roller blading, hiking, or go to a festival. These are all fun activities. You can still talk to get to know each other, but you can also use the activity to distract you from your nervousness.

Don’t Think of it as a Date

Many people view going on a date the same way as if they were going on a job interview. They hope the other person likes them and “hires” them to be her boyfriend or girlfriend. But thinking of it that way puts you at a disadvantage.

Instead, why don’t you think of it as if you are “hiring” them? Why do they get all the power in choosing you? You need to make sure for yourself that they are going to be compatible with you. This mindset really helps you take your power back and not be feel as nervous.

Don’t Personalize Rejection

It’s not a secret that most dates don’t turn into falling in love and spending the rest of your life with someone. It’s really just a numbers game. Most people are “rejected” many more times than not.

But don’t think of rejection as there being something wrong with you. Because there is nothing wrong with you! Just because one person doesn’t think you are a match for them doesn’t mean that the right person won’t. Think of it as them doing you a favor – they are freeing you up to find your perfect match!

Date as many people as you can

Going out on as many dates as possible allows you to get really comfortable with going out with many different people. The more you do something (anything), the easier it gets. And the same goes for dating.

So, go on as many dates as you can. Don’t have any expectations. If you have no expectations, then you can’t be disappointed, right? But at the same time, you might be surprised and meet the man or woman of your dreams! Which, after all, is the whole point of dating, right?

The Bottom Line

Remember, if you experience dating anxiety, you are not alone. Almost everyone has felt that way at one time or another in their lives. And it’s not a negative thing to feel anxious.

If you follow these tips for how to deal with anxiety, you should be able to go on all your dates with confidence. Because confidence is really what all people are looking for!

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Relationship & Dating Expert. Professor. Coach. Best-Selling Author of "Couples Bucket List" & "The Bucket List Activity Book for Couples". TV & Radio Personality. Speaker. Loving Wife. Proud Mom.

Dayton, OH

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