5 Tips For Anxious Daters: Break The Rejection Cycle

5 Tips For Anxious Daters: Break The Rejection Cycle

When you meet someone you like, do you spend too much of your time thinking about what to do, what not to do, what you feel, why it could work, why it won’t work, and, perhaps, what you’ll wear on your wedding day?

If so, you may be an anxious dater. This means that when you start to like someone, or think you could like someone, you get anxious. As your anxiety takes over, you lose access to the secure parts of yourself that feel safe and lovable. As a result, you act solely from an anxious place within yourself, without consulting your secure parts. Actions that are motivated by fear are different from actions that stem from an emotionally secure or neutral place; the outcomes are different too.

For example, if you’re feeling anxious, you might text someone to find out why they didn’t text you back yet. If you’re feeling emotionally neutral or secure, you might choose to go back to doing your own thing, and give the person space to respond when he or she can.

Dating anxiety is normal. It’s going to happen. However, you can learn to manage it. Doing so is important because otherwise, it can be hard for someone to get to know you. If all people are confronted with is your anxious-self, they can’t see all of your incredible qualities.

Dating anxiety often comes from a fear of rejection. Ironically, the anxiety causes you to act in ways that may push people away, so that you end up getting what you most feared: rejected. But it isn’t really you they are rejecting. It’s your anxiety. Once you learn to manage it, you’ll break your pattern. You’ll start to feel more connections with people, and have a better experience.

If you think about it, those who know the complete you, really like you! You’re most likely a lovable, enjoyable person. It’s those people in your life—friends and family—who are the best judges because they have made it to you; past your anxiety-wall. Those you feel have rejected you are not qualified to judge you because they didn’t get the chance to really know you. If your potential partners can get to know you, they’ll find out how great you are.

So, how do you break this painful cycle and ease your dating anxiety? The key is to learn how to self-soothe.

Remember, it takes time to develop the self-soothing skills needed to handle dating anxiety. The more you practice the following tips, the more discomfort you will be able to tolerate. Be patient and kind with yourself in the meantime.

Practice the following tips and exercises to strengthen the self-soothing muscle within you:

1. Get to know your “selves”. Imagine you have two selves: a secure, adult self, and an anxious, younger self. Throughout each day, notice when you feel like your adult-self, and how it feels. Notice how your body feels when you’re in your adult state of mind; notice the experience of your mind, and how your thoughts flow. Then, notice when you feel like your anxious, younger-self, and how that Notice what you feel in your body. You may feel tension you don’t otherwise feel, for example. Notice what your mind is doing. You may find that your thoughts are quicker, or more scattered, for example. When you have a good sense of the two parts of yourself, it’s time for your adult, secure self, to soothe your younger, anxious self. Prepare to write two letters.

     a. Letter one. The first letter will be from the anxious, younger-self you’ve identified; the part of you that worries you’re not            good enough, that you’re unlovable, that people will reject you and abandon you. Let that part of yourself speak in a letter          to your secure, adult self. You might tell your secure self how scared you are, what you’re afraid of, and, most importantly,          what you need from your secure self.

     b. Letter two. The second letter will be from your secure, adult-self, to your anxious, younger-self, comforting that part of              yourself. Let your anxious-self know that everything is ok, and why. Remind your anxious-self that you can handle                      whatever comes your way. After all, you always have. Be compassionate with the scared part of yourself. Think of it as                being a nurturing parent to your younger anxious self. Or, a best friend who is nurturing and supportive.

     c. Repeat. Write as many letters as you need to, as often as you want. You can do this exercise over and over again, and              you will likely find that each time you do it, you get something new from it.

2. Meditation. This is usually the one that people disregard the fastest, even though it is the most accessible. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to lessen suffering. I understand the resistance to meditating. I dismissed the idea of sitting down and observing my mind, for years! I thought, “meditate? Just tell me what to DO!” I didn’t want to sit and do nothing. I didn’t trust that doing so would benefit me. It sounded like a bunch of new-age mumbo-jumbo. However, once I began doing it, I found that it is the best way to know myself. The better we know ourselves, the more effectively we can live. It’s helpful to learn about it before knocking it. Many people are misinformed about what it means to meditate, and as a result they get frustrated and give up. I highly recommend reading the book: Insight Meditation: The Practice Of Freedom. It helped me get started with my practice.

3. Breathing. Emotions cause disturbances in breath. When you get anxious, your breath is affected. It likely becomes shallow, or you may stop breathing entirely (for a few seconds). This exacerbates your anxiety, and will lead you to feel more and more unhinged. If you take 5-10 minutes to focus on your breathing, you will soothe yourself and calm down. Then, you can decide what actions you want to take with regard to your new potential partner, from a secure place within yourself. For example, do you want to text your potential partner because you have something to say? Or, were you going to do so to make sure they are still interested in you? Do you want to text this person for the 12th time, or do you want to wait and give them space to move toward you?

4. Daily self-care. Aim to get 30 minutes of physical activity on a regular basis. Going for long walks in the city is great, but I mean 30 minutes of uncomfortable physical activity. I don’t like the word, “should,” but I use it here because I believe so strongly in the effects of including this practice in your daily life. You don’t have to want to do this. But doing it makes a huge difference in how we feel. When I first started going to the gym, I didn’t want to go at all! I was not pumped. I was not motivated. But, someone told me it would benefit me, and I decided to trust the person enough to try it out. I dragged myself there, got on a treadmill for 30 minutes, and got out of there. And the next day, I did the same thing, whining and complaining about it in my head the entire way. I continued to force myself to do this thing I didn’t feel like doing. In a short time, I found myself feeling better. I didn’t find myself enjoying the gym, but the way I felt in my life became motivation for me to go. Now, I go regularly, and I whine about it in my head far less. I might even enjoy it now and then….but I’m not going to admit that, officially. 😉 My point is, you don’t have to want to do it. Do it anyway. It doesn’t have to be enjoyable. You don’t have to start out doing it every day. You can build up to doing it more and more. If you’re suffering, it’s something you can do to feel better. And it works! Especially in combination with practicing breathing and meditating, and eating nutritiously.

5. Create something. Cook, work on a puzzle, draw, paint, write, knit. Do something that requires your full attention, and that results in something new that you created. This will help you to get your mind off of your worries, and to get yourself into the present moment. It also feels good to create things. It reminds you that you are smart and capable. It also shows you that you are able to be alone and to enjoy your time with yourself.

There are many more ways to self-soothe. You have to play around with things and see what works best for you. Remember, dating and relationships are full of uncertainty. If you can learn to self-soothe, you’ll be able to be your best self more often. You’ll feel better, and people will get to know how awesome you are!

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual. The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Copyright © Caitlin Cantor 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: