by Natalie Engel

For those people with great relationships, Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful opportunity to show the one you love just how much you really love them by getting them a huge stuffed animal and box or chocolates. Or, a sexy piece of clothing that they may or may not be able to fit into if they eat that box of chocolate. However, for some people, Valentine’s Day is just a day that reminds them that they are unable to find someone to love because of their dating and social anxiety. 

First Date Stressors

Does dating stress you out? Even for those people who do not have social anxiety, dating can be stressful. Meeting someone you barely know to spend several hours with can be a nightmare for people with social anxiety disorder, though. There are so many things to worry about such as:

  • Will he or she like me?
  • Will I like him or her?
  • What if I make a fool of myself? 
  • What if I cannot think of anything to talk about?
  • Should I ask them about their previous relationships?
  • Should I talk about my previous relationships?
  • Do I let him or her hold my hand? 
  • How can I eat in front of him or her?
  • Will he or she think I am a pig if I order a steak?
  • What if he or she tries to kiss me?
  • How far should I go on the first date?
  • If this does not work out, will I ever meet anyone or will I be alone forever?

Some of the craziest things go through your mind when you are waiting for that date. For those who have dating or social anxiety, this is usually enough to have them cancel the date before it even starts. 

Tips to Help You Cope

Here are some tips to get you through that time period before and even during that first date:

Deep breathing: Not to be confused with heavy breathing. Taking a few deep breaths can clear your head and can actually lower your blood pressure. That is because it slows your breathing and calms your nervous system. 

Think positive: This can be difficult for those of us with social or dating anxiety. Try to remember a time when you had a date that went extraordinarily well and focus on that. Do not think about past dates that went horribly wrong.

Be there: According to the experts, it is less likely that you will have an anxiety attack if you are actually present in the moment. In other words, focus on what you and your date are doing right then, not about what if they do not like you or if you do not like them. 

Focus on your date: Thinking about your date and not about yourself helps you relax and stop trying to second-guess yourself. Listen to what they are talking about and look at their body language

Enjoy yourself: If you just try to forget that you are on a date and think about having fun, chances are pretty good that you will be more relaxed. Talk about funny or positive things and avoid talking about politics or other touchy subjects. 

Mindfulness: Making a conscious effort to think in the present moment and not about the past or future can help you connect and enjoy yourself.

Get enough sleep: How many times have you laid in bed thinking about how much can go wrong and how you plan to make things perfect? All this does is causes you to lose sleep and make you cranky. Do your best to get enough sleep the night before your date. 

This is not to say that doing these things will make your date go perfect. However, the more relaxed you are, the better your chances are that you will enjoy yourself. 

Talk to Someone

If you are having a great deal of anxiety about dating or are feeling depressed about Valentine’s Day, you may just need someone to talk to. There are professionals who are able to talk to you about dating and social anxiety. You do not even need to make an appointment in most cases and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

 About the Author

Natalie Engel graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2017, and is now a member of the Community and Support team at BetterHelp. Her daily work includes supporting the counselors, clients and any potential clients on the BetterHelp platform. One of her favorite aspects of her position is getting to interview and onboard counselors to expand the platform, and allow every member to be matched with a counselor who best fits their needs.