Today’s post is written by Yasmine Ashuraey of Skilled Attraction, a date coaching and matchmaking firm. Read on for powerful methods of reducing anxiety and feeing more confident in your dating life!
Mutual love, trust, and enjoyment of one another’s company. These are some of the building blocks to amazing, fulfilling relationships. These building blocks extend to most intimate human relationships, including romantic relationships, friendships, and family relationships.
Love and trust take time to build. Enjoyment can be discovered instantaneously. In fact, outside of our family relationships, we expect to enjoy our time with someone before we consider a more intimate relationship.
Think about it for a moment. Would you invite someone into your life as a friend or romantic partner if you did not enjoy his or her company? The answer is, probably not. You’re at the receiving end of this as well. Others won’t invite you into their lives if they don’t sense they can enjoy their time with you.
This is where anxiety is worth exploring in our lives. High levels of anxiety can, and often will, cripple our capacity to discover our romantic partner. It does so by masking our personality and therefore creating an artificial barrier between us and another person. Anxiety blocks our capacity to have enjoyable experiences with another person.
What I want to help you accomplish in this article is the capacity to reduce your anxiety to minimal levels on a first date. Yes. Yes. And yes! It is certainly possible. Be gentle on yourself and give yourself time to incorporate these tips.
The end result is powerful. By saying goodbye to anxiety, you’ll be able to ease into conversation and connection, and therefore recognize if you enjoy another person’s company.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
1. Release your expectations and attachments to outcomes
We all have expectations and attachments throughout the dating process. They can come from family dynamics, cultural norms, inexperience, experience, and our overall relationship history. They can work to keep us safe and help us find what we want.
More often than not, though, expectations and attachments, especially at the beginning of the dating process, can be crippling and sabotage our capacity to discover love.
I invite you to consider how your expectations and attachments are shaping your potential with other people. Consider which expectations and attachments are sabotaging you and creating high anxiety. Write them down. Then brainstorm what it will take for you to release them. Often times, simply the act of naming an expectation or attachment will help you release it.
2. Offer Your Undivided Attention
One of the biggest secrets of dating is that you gain everything by giving the other person your undivided attention.
Imagine a first date with a wonderful person. You’re nervous. Maybe you want to make sure the other person knows just how wonderful you are. You might also be feeling the need to play a little coy. Ignore your instinct to pitch yourself or wait for them to ask you questions. Instead, shower him or her with attention, and ask about their film project, two adorable dogs, and recent birthday party in Honolulu.
There’s a simple reason for this approach. When you focus on the other person, especially with an air of curiosity and warmth, it allows you to channel your anxiety into something that makes the other person feel good. In addition, it puts you in the driver’s seat by setting the tone for your conversation.
If your date reciprocates, it tells you early on that your date has social intelligence, generosity, and an interest in you. If they don’t reciprocate, that tells you they’re not a great fit, and you move on.
In either case you’ve redirected your anxiety and learned a heck of a lot about a potential partner. For that reason alone, you should celebrate your dating know-how and give yourself a pat on the back.
3. Visualize a Community That Celebrates YOU
One of the biggest reasons we feel high anxiety on a date is because we anticipate rejection, and it scares us.
You can combat the anxiety that comes from fearing rejection by recognizing three key truths:
- First, rejection is inevitable. There will be someone in your future that will reject you. Breath into that. Accept it. Rejection is a universal and shared experience.
- Second, rejection is not about you. It’s about the other person and their story.
- Third, there is always a community around you that accepts and celebrates you. (Note: If you are trying to date successfully and there is no one in your life who accepts and celebrates you for who you are, then you need to focus on building a social safety net first).
For this visualization exercise, we’re going to build on this third truth.
First, take a deep breath and consider all the people in your life who support you. This can include your mentors, your parents, your close friends, and even acquaintances that make you feel good about yourself. You can also think about a setting where you’re completely accepted and appreciated by the people around you.
Ideally thirty minutes or less before your date, close your eyes and visualize all these pillars of support. If it feels right, imagine all these people holding hands with you in a circle. Slowly look around, take in all these wonderful people, and imagine them verbalizing their support for you in this process. Imagine their warmth and how they make you feel in their presence. Immerse yourself for ten to fifteen minutes in this visualization practice.
I had a male client who once told me that he found this exercise corny but it somehow made all the difference. I had another client use this visualization successfully to eliminate nerves at a public speaking event.
The visualization is powerful because it literally changes your brain and body chemistry. Your imagination will trigger a parasympathetic response in your body. Your mind thinks “Hey! Rejection by a date isn’t so scary after all. There are all these other people in my life that adore me.”
This visualization exercise primes you into relaxation mode by reminding you that you are accepted and celebrated by others.
Yasmine Ashuraey is the founder of Skilled Attraction, a date coaching and matchmaking firm. She has a Bachelors in Sociology and an honors thesis in Psychology from Stanford University. Her passion for studying attraction, love, and relationships is driven by her desire to support you in the dating process.