Most adults have at one time or another experienced anxiety related to dating. Whether it’s the anxiety associated with asking someone out, or deciding to accept, or the feeling that the other person will soon find your hidden flaws, the possibilities seem almost endless. It’s a wonder people wind up together at all. Now Jane Bolton, Psy.D., a certified contemporary psychoanalyst, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified life coach, who has been practicing psychotherapy for 17 years, offers some suggestions in a recent article in Psychology Today, to those still in the dating pool.
First of all, she says, people should try to make themselves more aware of the types of anxiety they are experiencing as it relates to dating. Fixing such stress inducers requires first figuring out what they are. Is it about feelings of inadequacy, guilt? Is it about constraints on the relationship? Figuring that out first is the first step.
The next thing is to look at how you are currently dealing with your anxiety. Are you pushing it down, ignoring it, taking it out on your date, or others? Again, in order to modify your current behavior, you pretty much have to see how it is you are acting now.
The next thing she suggests is a little less clear. Here she says that everyone needs to learn to separate expectations from fantasy and reality. People are human, thus expecting yourself or others to be superhuman can only lead to stress and quite often disappointment when you or the other person isn’t able to live up to your expectations. As a second part of this step, people should try to compare their fantasy views on how things should be with reality based reflections on how life really is. To do that, people need to look around them at other people in the world; to notice how other people behave or react to situations in their relationships. Of course it would help to note people that seem to know what they’re doing, but not always. Seeing the mistakes others make can be just as helpful.
The final step seems rather obvious. Try to get yourself to behave as you think a reasonable person would in reasonable situations and then to let everything else go. Yes, it’s true your relationship might not last, or it just might. It’s also possible the other person will find things in you that don’t like. But, the thing is, it will happen whether you stress out about or not. Thus, if you can just force yourself to behave in ways you believe are healthier, eventually you’ll find you don’t have to force yourself. And then, you’ll find that your dating life has grown less stressful and you’ll be happier for it.