Understanding Anxiety and Stress in Early Dating

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Gemini Generated Image

Three things fuel anxiety and unworthiness:

  1. I must succeed or I am a failure.

  2. Life must be easy or I’m doing something wrong

  3. Everyone must approve of me or I will be rejected.

These beliefs are based on a false assumption that there are only two ways to be in life.

The world is filled with more nuances and gray areas. There are ways to think of yourself in a more self-supporting way.

The truth is, any relationship or friendship of depth will have conflict. There will be acceptance of some of your traits, and some others will be questioned or even criticized. And that shouldn’t matter.

What matters is how you repair after a conflict. How do you see things differently so that everything is not life or death? How you can respond to rejection without getting anxious, stressed, or in any other self-harming way?

I learned it the hard way that life’s not supposed to be easy. That most people you like may not like you back. That you don’t always get what you want, and you can fail multiple times without feeling like a failure.

I want you to read this article to build resilience (and not anxiety) in the face of uncertainty in relationships.

I wish the sense of inadequacy (that you’re trying to hide) fuel the desire for self-improvement in you, and not self-doubt. So let’s begin.

An AI image with the prompt Capture the nuanced emotions of a man stressed at the thought of dating, in a modern, urban apartment setting just before dusk. The room is bathed in

TLDR

Early dating is a time of unknowns which naturally brings anxiety and stress. Some of the reasons for being emotional could be a bad experience with an earlier relationship, insecurity about one's self, or the impression one is trying to make on the other person. One of the very first steps to deal with such feelings is realizing that they are a part of the dating process and are completely normal.

Recognizing What Makes An Anxiety

I remember being a different person when I started my first relationship. I had so many expectations from my partner, but I didn’t want to change for them.

I see now how that could have been problematic; Unwillingness to adjust but expect your partner to change as per my expectations.

Looking back, I can confirm that was the primary reason for my failed relationships.

At the heart of the matter is a realization that we need to identify our triggers. No one, but we alone have to cross the bridge of our anxiety.

It can be the fear of rejection or the overwhelming pressure to be able to deal with new friendships in addition to the old ones.

Once you know the things that trigger your anxiety, it is easier for you to develop relevant targeted strategies for the management of the same.

The Impact of Anxiety on Dating

Anxiety influences how a relationship starts. It also determines how it ends. The problem of anxiety in dating is more mental than physical, but it affects our life in the form of physical symptoms like improper eye contact, sweating, trembling, mumbling, and physical shyness to name a few.

Now let’s address the biggest mental barrier: Lack of adequate control.

Some people want to control everything. Pre-planning to the very punctuation in their text.

Such people are too rigid to change. It’s their way or the highway. We know them as control freaks.

Others want to escape agency. They want everything to flow and don’t want to take responsibility for making a decision.

I know people who end up intoxicating themselves before they go on a date because they cannot imagine taking responsibility for how it goes. That’s a disaster too.

Both places lead to either over-thinking, miscommunication or even getting away from dating altogether.

When such impacts are identified, one needs to make changes that assist in ensuring one recognizes the problem of inadequate control by addressing the underlying cause of anxiety.

Recommended Read: How to choose which dating app is best for an Indian?

Strategies for Anxiety Management

Good communication with your date about your feelings can help reduce most of the anxiety that comes with early dating.

Besides, taking self-care that includes regular exercising, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies as well, can help manage stress.

Establishing realistic expectations for yourself and the relationship is also important.

Building self-confidence in terms of dating

If you are the kind of guy (like I was a decade ago) who gets offended by feedback, then you must do a self-ego check before you jump into the dating arena.

No matter how hard it is to talk about your insecurities, remember that sooner or later you’ll have to address them with your partner in a long-term relationship. The ability to embrace vulnerability, celebrate small wins, and seek constructive feedback builds confidence in dating.

Confidence is very key in dating since it helps one to be more attractive, helping an individual also deal with anxiety effectively.

Trying Meditation

Coming from my personal experience, whenever I notice I am going off tangents, becoming restless, or too excited to focus, I resort to counting my breaths for 5 minutes before an important meeting.

Be it before your crush, or your meeting with your boss, meditation can work as a powerful tool against anxiety. It helps to stay in the present without allowing negative thought loops.

If embraced regularly, such practices may change the dating game for you.

The Significance of Self-Understanding

Similar to meditating, deep contemplation on your past experiences will take you further in appreciating how far you have come. It will make you more self-aware.

Knowing why you get ticked off, what makes you happy, or what kind of touch feels wonderful are all ways of cultivating self-understanding.

This element of self-awareness is key when it comes to dating because it makes you realize your worth. And that is largely what you will be bringing to a partner as they will be bringing something about them to you in equal measure.

Building a Support Network

A support system you find in that one friend who listens to you when you feel anxious and helps you calm down may get you the comfort and advice you need to deal with these strange feelings when starting a new relationship.

This support may originate from your friends, family, or a support group who may be in the same place as you and can give differing views.

Handling Rejection

If you have ever tried to sell someone anything, or if you’ve ever applied for a job, you may be used to rejection.

In the same way, rejection is a part of dating and one could hardly avoid it. Yet, rejection in a relationship can be handled without being miserable.

Stepping forward positively with resilience enables you to view rejection as an opportunity for self-realization, acceptance, and personal growth.

Healthy Communication in a Relationship

Let’s get this straight. No matter how you think about your personality, everyone has needs.

It’s important for both partners in a relationship to be able to express their needs regularly. This can be considered the foundation of any healthy relationship - effective two-way communication.

But first: do you think you’re good at expressing your needs in a relationship?

Let’s put it to the test, and ask your partner. Ask them what your most important need is in the relationship and see what they say.

The biggest issue with expressing our needs or desires is that people either don’t speak at all (because they’re good at suppressing them) as in an avoidant attachment personality.

Or they speak in too general of terms, such as I want to feel understood, or I want to improve communication. I want to feel closer to my partner. Or I don’t want to fight much.

While those things sound fine, they’re not helpful because they don’t go into the specifics of ‘how’.

One has to go deeper and talk about what part of your communication needs to be improved. The following questions need to be answered.

How can I address the root of the lack of communication between me and my partner? How do I judge closeness to my partner (and how does your partner approach intimacy)? What are some specific things that are coming in the way of you not being fully understood by your partner?

Recommended Read: Mastering the Art of Chatting on Dating Apps

How can Dahlia help?

Now, if you still claim that you do not have needs, either you’re not being honest with yourself or your partner.

In either case, it’s time to take a step back and set the foundations for effective communication.

Remember, nobody knows these things naturally.

How we normally handle communication is the approach our subconscious has learned growing up.

That’s where using the help of scientific techniques to cultivate proper communication, understanding, and intimacy is important.

Dahlia uses quizzes that make you talk about the things that matter to both you and your partner.

Using scientifically tested nudges and personalized insights, you can shine light onto your personality and fill the crevices of conflict in your relationship.

Setting boundaries

Despite all the adjustments and sacrifices that any relationship takes, it’s also important to remember to draw the line.

To have a healthy dating experience, and to not let adjustment become a self-compromise, it is important to know and communicate about the boundaries.

It’s important to note that setting boundaries must not be a pre-thought.

If someone violates your principles, you have all the right to call it out and make them aware. But at the same time, you must not overwhelm your partner with a list of things that you don’t want them to say or do. This will likely set them off.

Setting boundaries when you need them ensures that self-love does not set into the territory of the partner's personality as both sides meet their own needs while still learning and respecting personal virtues.

The Importance of Self-Love in Dating

Although the idea of self-love is highly misunderstood, we can simply define it as the ability to accept oneself with our flaws and strengths.

This is only to remind oneself that we cannot fight our way out of our insecurities. Nor can we be blind-sighted by our good things.

Knowing that creates the space for the other to come in and compliment us with their flaws and strengths. Therefore, self-love is the basis of creating healthy relationships.

Developing self-confidence and giving oneself a break will not only make the dating experience better but also draw secure individuals who will hold and regard one in high esteem.

Parting Words

Having said what I said above, the root of our misery lies in the lies we tell ourselves.

Reversals, setbacks, and chronic heartbreaks all fuel us with the need for self-soothing validations and ego-massages.

We, instead of trying to be utterly honest with ourselves, go all in with our lies which creates infinite loops of long-term anxiety and stress.

If you want to find calm amidst the changing currents of a relationship, you have to start looking at the lies you tell yourself.

For example: “He doesn’t mean to be cruel to me. I don’t feel abandoned by my friends because they don’t do as much as I do for them. I am not a petty person at all, I’m super chill. I’m not hyper-sensitive, I can make fun of myself. I don’t need to apologize to anyone. I don’t have anger issues, I don’t need to change anything about myself. I’m perfect. “

If you constantly find yourself telling yourself how good you are, or see yourself as a constant victim to other people, trust me you’re going to find it difficult to handle relationships without stressing yourself out.

I can only hope that this may be a gentle reminder of how brutal honesty and self-introspection may be the freedom (from anxiety) you’ve been looking for.

Next Recommended Read: How to choose the best profile picture for a dating / matchmaking app?

Author's Bio

Anurag is a filmmaker turned farmer turned entrepreneur. Originally from Faridabad, Haryana, he loves to read and write on the subjects of relationships, free will, faith, and similar 'delusions' that collectively make us human.
Having written and directed several films before, and then working with farmers in revolutionizing their supply chain, Anurag has now landed on his latest venture called Dahlia, a new-age matchmaking app that uses games to foster purposeful intimacy. His deep knowledge of human relationships coupled with scientific research has helped hundreds of individuals navigate the landscape of modern romance with authenticity and confidence.

Author's Bio

Anurag is a filmmaker turned farmer turned entrepreneur. Originally from Faridabad, Haryana, he loves to read and write on the subjects of relationships, free will, faith, and similar 'delusions' that collectively make us human.
Having written and directed several films before, and then working with farmers in revolutionizing their supply chain, Anurag has now landed on his latest venture called Dahlia, a new-age matchmaking app that uses games to foster purposeful intimacy. His deep knowledge of human relationships coupled with scientific research has helped hundreds of individuals navigate the landscape of modern romance with authenticity and confidence.


Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati


Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati

Anurag Gulati Headshot
Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati

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