Dealing with Anxiety while dating

Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

Trying to date while suffering with anxiety is proving very hard for me. I had been diagnosed recently even though i’ve had brief attacks over the years. I am now single and looking at online dating but since my anxiety attacks I feel like this could ruin any chance of going out on dates. I’m fine talking to potential dates behind a computer or even on the phone but when it comes to the thought of meeting up I clam up and start panicking. I don’t want to be single forever and would like some ideas on tips to help me with my condition when dating. Henry

Hi Henry

There are various natural techniques to use to keep yourself calm using meditation. Try something like Yoga which is a good relaxing exercise for the mind body and soul. This can be done in the privacy of your own home or in a group environment whichever you feel comfortable with. Give this a go before you know you have arranged to go on a date you may be surprised. There are other techniques such as Primordial Sound Meditation (PSM, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes, Zen is also referred to as Zazen, which literally means “seated meditation.” all could be useful to you. Dating can be daunting for the average person but it can heightened for those with anxiety. You never know dating in itself could be a good form of relaxation too, you may find your dates may have a calming effect on you once you get into conversation face to face. If all fails do seek guidance with your doctor if your anxiety is stopping you from living a normal life.

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Getting Out of the Dating Rut

I can’t count how many times single men tell me how bored they’re getting of dating. “It’s the same date every time.” “I just go to the same place, and end up on the same date!” “It’s like Ground Hog day … same date, different girl!”

Don’t get me wrong, dating can be exhausting! These days, no one has much free time, and if you’re actively dating, it can take up a lot of your spare time. But if meeting new people ever starts feeling like a chore, then there’s no point continuing to go on dates. I frequently say that a date should never feel like a job interview. But it also shouldn’t feel like hard work!

So how can you get out of a dating rut?

Know when enough is enough

Dating can get tiring. If nothing is developing from them, the highs and the lows can start to get a bit dull after a while. The key to successful dating is to recognise when it’s getting too much for you. Change things up a bit. Give yourself a few weeks away from dating all together, or try something different. Check out a live singles event instead, or put your single status to the back of your mind entirely and focus on other stuff instead.

Don’t let dating be your only hobby

Dating is just a mechanism to meeting new people. Yes, it might take up a lot of your time, but it should certainly never become your only hobby. Getting a date is only the first hurdle of a long dating process. If you want to find a long-term partner, then you need to attract him or her. And people are attracted to interesting people who have hobbies and passions. If dating has become your only pass-time, other than work, you’re going to make for a rather dull date! Take a step back! Have a think about what defines you. What do you love to do? What makes you the person you are? Once you’ve answered those questions, take some time out to focus on those things. The other person should never complete you. You need to be a whole person before you start to look for a partner to complement you.

Mix it up

You are in charge of your own dating destiny! If things start to feel rather repetitive and dull, than make some changes. Do something different. If you keep finding yourself on dinner dates, or pub dates, and you’re getting bored, then say something. Suggest something different to your date. There are heaps of fun first date options out there. Look around the town or city you live in, and see if anything appeals. Is there a show you’ve been wanting to go to? An exhibition at a gallery or a museum? Do you love playing a particular sport? Remember, you’re using your free time to date. How do you want to spend that free time? If you suggest something which you love to do, as an alternative to a more traditional type of date, you may learn a lot about your compatibility with the other person. Also, by going on a more active date, you will reduce a lot of the first date pressure, and the situation will create a number of ice-breakers to help you on the date.

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The Break-Up Formula

So, you’ve recently been through a difficult and emotion ­filled break­up and you’re wondering how long you’ll need to heal? The answer to this question is definitely not an easy one to find, it depends on the person, the relationship and a plethora of other factors.

The theory most people rely on states to fully get passed a break up it takes half the time of the relationship. For example, if your last relationship lasted 2 years, it’ll take 1 year to get over that guy or girl. This may be a good starting point, but of course there are so many other factors you can’t ignore. Things that happen before, during or after the relationship willl affect how the break­up will pan out. It’s only after we address these elements, does the question of how long it will take to get over the break­up will become clear.

  • The first factor we’ll look at is what I call the ‘it’s already over’ moment. This is the moment during the relationship when the harsh reality hits you; it’s not going to last forever. As a rule of thumb, the longer the time between this moment and the end of the relationship, the less time is needed to fully get over your relationship. Now for certain people this specific moment may have come about weeks before the actual official end, simply spending the time between just putting up with the relationship, hoping something will change so that they can stay together. In this example, the time required to heal is extremely short. On the other hand, some people don’t find out it’s not actually going to last forever until the very moment their partner breaks up with them. Sadly for this unlucky camper they’re going to need a lot more time to fully heal.

  • Ask yourself what number relationship this is? Is this your first or your hundredth? The number of notches on that all important relationship counter changes how the break­up will pan out. This directly affects how long you are going to have to wait until that glue fixing your broken heart will take to harden. If this is your first love, then I’m sorry to say this isn’t going to be an easy end. If it’s your second time it will be a little easier. Your third? Even shorter, and so on and so on.

  • The final question we need to ask is: How have you been spending this post­break up period? It’s not going to surprise you to hear that your behaviour and general day to day life changes dramatically after breaking up with someone. How you act changes, you do things you wouldn’t think you’d normally do, your personality alters, etc. Sleeping with more people than usual, checking your phone constantly for missed calls or texts, losing your temper when you’re actually a calm person ­ these are all examples of how your very being can change after the end of a relationship. These behaviour and personality changes may be a side effect of break­up­itis, but it is also a good indicator if you’re looking to find out how much time you need to heal. When you get over this period you’ll return to your normal self, you’ll return to the kind of person you were before the terrible break­up. Say there’s a big difference between this current self and your past self, that means there’s a long way to go. The closer you two get there is less time needed to end this post­break up sadness.

    With all these complicated factors it may seem impossible to see when happiness will return. Don’t fret however, mathematics isn’t such a fickle mistress. Simply answer the questions below and do a little bit of high school maths and you’ll finally see how long you’ll have to endure this post­break up period. Protip: keep a calculator handy.

    Start with the number of months your relationship lasted, Divide that by two, subtract the number of weeks between the ‘its already over moment’ and when you broke up, On a scale of 1 ­ 3 (with 1 being the least and 3 being the most) how different would you say your behaviour is to your usual self? Multiply what you’ve got so far by this number, Is this your first relationship? Then add 3. If this is your second then add 2, your third add 1, if
    it’s anymore than your fourth then just add 1.

    And there we go, whatever answer you’re left with it’s how long it’ll take, in months, to officially get over your relationship. By the way, if your answer is anything less than 0 then chances are you’ve moved on already.

    Whatever your answer may be, whether it be 1 or 12 months, just remember there is light at the end of the tunnel, the darkness will fade and you will be happy again.

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    A Single Mum’s Agony

    Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

    Being a single mum and trying to date is proving difficult. I was in a short term relationship but my partner at the time wasn’t getting on well with my eldest teenage daughter, she didn’t like him and made it quite clear to him. I thought she felt the attention may have been away from her therefore when the relationship ended i thought it would get better but to no avail. Now trying to think about dating again worries me as my own child could ruin me having a new relationship or at least making things very awkward. If you have any advice it would be much appreciated. Lola

    Hi Lola

    It’s never easy dating when you have kids, finding the time alone can prove difficult. Your situation is very common so you are not alone! Maybe sit down with your daughter and to explain that mum needs a life too but that nothing changes between you and her, that she is still a major part of your life. She then may open up and give you an idea of what’s on her mind and why she makes life difficult regarding your partners. The key is to communicate so you’re both on the same page and she doesn’t bottle up any negativity towards you. Show her you care and continue to show her this by reinforcing that there is nothing wrong with you enjoying the company of your dates. Once she is out of her teens she will embrace the opportunity for her mum to find happiness and before you know it she will be asking you for some dating tips!

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    Don’t Take It Personally – The Realities of Dating Online

    Online dating can be an incredible experience. With just a few clicks of your keyboard or smart phone, you can be introduced to more singles in one place, than you could meet in a whole year of nights out. However, with so many options available, dating online is very different to meeting someone in the real world.

    Probably the hardest pill to swallow, if you’re new to online dating, is the passive rejection. Put simply, if someone isn’t interested in you, they simply won’t reply.

    Obviously there are a whole list of reasons why someone might not reply to your message. Maybe they never read it. Maybe they don’t use the website any more. Maybe the website requires him or her to have paid a subscription, in order to reply. Maybe they forgot about the message. And maybe they’re just not that into you.

    The thing you have to remember about online dating, is that it works both ways. It’s not just a shopping site. You can’t just filter the options according to your preferences, and expect to go on dates with everyone you like. Online dating is a two-way street, and the other person needs to also be interested in you, and have similar intentions. In the same way that you have set preferences which you filter matches by, other people apply filters. Maybe you’re not the right age, or height. Maybe they prefer another hair colour, or they’re into different things than you. It’s also important to remember that not everyone on an online site is there to go on dates. Perhaps they just want to chat. Perhaps they’re just online see how much attention they get from the opposite sex. Maybe they’re testing the water, and too shy to reply.

    Whatever the reason, the reality of the situation is that not everyone you speak to online will reply to you. But the worst thing you can do is dwell on this. It’s a reality of online dating which you need to appreciate early, so that you don’t just focus your time and attention on one person online. Online dating is a numbers game. Often for every ten or twenty messages you send out, you may only receive one or two replies. That’s nothing against you personally, and not something which you should interpret as a sign that you’re unattractive, or not doing it correctly. It’s just how things go online. For whatever reason, not everyone will reply. But there will always be some who do … and those are the ones who deserve your time!

    In the same way that not every message you send out will get a response, you shouldn’t feel obliged to every message you get. The nice part of online dating is that rejection is passive. If you’re not attracted to someone’s profile, and they approach you, there’s no requirement to reply back to let them down gently. In fact, often just saying nothing at all is a far politer, kinder way to let someone down. Unless they continue to message you repeatedly, there’s no need to reply. And if someone does contact you over and over again, and you don’t want to speak to them, remember you can always use the block function on most sites, to disappear from view.

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    Is he a real date or fake

    Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

    I have signed up to online dating for a year now and finally I think I may have found the one. I’m really excited but usually my good luck never happens which now i’m thinking is he real! No one ever ticked all the boxes until this guy appeared and messaged me, I took one look at his photos which put a smile on my face then i read his description again all matching to what i’m looking for in a date. He made the first move and has been respectful throughout conversation the only problem is he’s some distance away not just down the road. He is prepared to come and meet me but I feel sick with nerves as he’s too good to be true, i’m worried he may be a fake and turn out to be someone i’m not attracted to. I would be grateful for some advice, thanks Penny

    Hi Penny

    That’s great news you have clicked with someone online, the hard bit is now meeting face to face. You have to bite the bullet and just go for it, he’s actually making the effort to come and see you from a long distance which shows he’s keen. It’s hard to believe someone who make the effort to see you and not reveal their true self, what a waste of their journey if so! Make sure you meet in a public place like a bar and tell a friend or relative where you are going. It’s best to be safe especially if you have met via online dating and it’s true you don’t always know who you are speaking with until you meet. Try and think positive about this new potential relationship, if you think negative thoughts this will only worry you more and by the end of it you will be a nervous wreck beforehand. Tread cautiously but at the same time enjoy yourself as this could be the start of something special. Saying that if it doesn’t work out there is always plenty more fish in the sea.

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    Dating in the Grey Area

    Dating in the Grey Area and Why I Plan to Stay There… For Now

    “Mum, we’re just sort of ‘seeing each other, Okay?”

    The classic line I hear myself using each time I leave London to visit family, in what I increasing come to think of as, my backwards little home town. Now that I live in the big bad city of London I have come to think of suburbia, rather smugly, as a stifling little ring of people who have settled for each other in little boxes on the outskirts of little towns.

    School friends are all but married in their mid twenties; committing to mortgages, thinking about children, even researching the good schools and checking out the local register… Now there’s a grim thought.

    I’ve never wanted to settle. And, that’s what I see when I look home.

    London on the other hand is exciting and fast and I can, if I wanted to, find a new date every day of the week. It’d be a lot of admin, but it’s doable. Dating apps are homing devises, singles nights act as cattle ranches for the prowl; London is the land of opportunity if you’re single and willing.

    But when you meet someone you like, and you’re forced to say, “Mum, we’re just sort of seeing each other, Okay?” is it Okay? Unsettled becomes unsettling and I begin to think maybe suburbia has it right. Maybe safe little boxes with safe loving people wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

    This craze for non committal grey area dating seems to be born out of the ease and necessity of using dating apps to meet people. Especially when you live in a city full of expressionless suits and a zero eye contact etiquette policy.

    But presented with what seems to be endless hoards of singletons at your disposable it’s very easy to begin dating without ditching the habit. Dating whilst wondering whether someone better might come along. Dating without the commitment.

    The non-committal grey area is a tricky place to sit still.

    I met him on one of those dating apps we all have, notifications buzzing, in our pockets: A stream of endless singles on tap and ready to swipe. But, surprisingly we hit it off. I didn’t wish he’d looked a tad more like his profile pictures and when he tried to kiss me at the end of date one I let him.

    Things continued with that slow trickle of progression that lends itself to modern relationships… and when you’re trying desperately to ‘Play It Cool’. By date three we’d held hands in public, date four I’d stayed over and around maybe date seven or eight we committed to being ‘friends’ on Facebook. Around month two I had a toothbrush at his flat and he’d kept a stash of the brand of condoms he liked in my top drawer. This had to be serious.

    But one Sunday afternoon he introduced me to an old acquaintance as his ‘friend’ and I knew we were far from out of the grey area.

    No I haven’t deleted the dating apps but neither has he. Notifications might be switched to off, but I still spot the icons lurking when he opens his phone to show me a funny post on his mate’s instagram. We’re both playing it safe and it’s driving me nuts!

    It’s a truth universally acknowledge that the single most attractive quality in a woman is sanity. Strangely this is not the same for men. Most women want men with a good sense of humour or a large… bank balance, ahead of a grasp on reality.

    So I’ve held it together as best I can, locking away my ‘crazy’.

    “Mum, we’re just sort of ‘seeing each other, Okay?”

    I like him so of course my insides are dancing around whenever I see him and while I’m with him it’s hard to steer the conversation away from the danger grounds of, ‘where is this going?’

    Because deep down I’m a pessimist. Because deep down there’s another version of me looking over my shoulder for the next girl on his dating app who might just be a little better than me. Slimmer, funnier, more intelligent, a little more sane than I am. Or should that be saner..?

    So I hold it in and I have, for now, resolved to wait.

    But why would anyone choose to stay in the grey?

    I’m a pretty excitable person. If I like you I really like you and we’ll hang out and I’ll offer to carry your shopping and I want to know all about your day and what’s bothering you at work. But if I love you, I decide fast and hard and I’ll carry all those worries and bothers as well as your groceries. That’s just the way I work.

    I appreciate that’s a little full on and while I think it’s nice, and I’m buzzing about how sweet I’m being, I know full well I might be pushing you away, just a little.

    So I find myself in the grey area again. But the difference is I’ve never seen it through before. By which I mean I’ve never waited before, I’ve never been patient enough to get to the other side, or to know even if there is another side!

    I’ve always been that ‘lets have a talk’ girl and I have to tell you, it’s done more harm than good, thus far. Communication might be key, but communicating something that isn’t ready to be said can have the reverse effect to everything you’re trying to say.

    I’m a believer in doing something until it’s not fun anymore or until it’s not what you want. But I do think that I just get to that point sooner than other people. I wonder what would or could happen if I could be able to just chill for a moment and let things be. Rather than talking through what I want them to be.

    You can’t force a feeling from someone or yourself and whilst I know having a clear mind for what you want is a good thing, and sticking to those ideals will ultimately make you happy, sometimes patients can really be a virtue.

    Of course weighing the pros and cons is a muddle you need to sort through on your own. But maybe just give it a minute. Wait and see.

    If you’re with someone, doing all those things that look like a relationship and being treated all the ways that you’d hope to be whilst in a relationship, the chances are that’s what will follow. Admittedly the balance is hard and it’s something I struggle with whilst looking for the light within my own grey, but it’s there.

    A wise person once told me that love is rarely bestowed upon those looking for it. Instead it’s almost cruelly granted to the people who are already happy. Who don’t care about searching for the one, because they’re already loving life, and radiating happiness. Translation: No one ever fell in love with a desperate romantic.

    Actually, that wise person was an Ex, but that’s neither here nor there.

    So I’m in the grey area and I’m going to give it a chance: Because, you can’t force a feeling, or a relationship.

    There are two of you in the grey area and sometimes you’re going to have to wait for the other person to catch up. I’m going to give it a chance. I’m not going to focus on the relationship so hard, loose perspective, and start pulling things out of proportion. Let’s see what’s on the other side of the grey.

    “Mum, we’re just sort of seeing each other.”

    And for now, that’s okay.

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    Is Revenge Sweet?

    Dear Agony Aunt Nicola

    I’ve had an on and off relationship with a man i’ve been seeing over the last two years. Over time my feelings have grown for him but I am struggling to deal with non commitment from him. As he is younger he likes to have his nights out with his friends then I hear from others that he’s been seen with other women. Whether these are rumours or not I shouldn’t have to hear it and have questioned him if he’s gone behind my back to which he denies. Then one day a conquest of his approached me in the school playground announcing she had slept with my man. I was distraught even though I kept my cool, he had to come clean in the end and but made out we were on a break. He lied to me and I can’t forgive him, I want to take revenge even though I still have feelings for him. It would make me feel better if he suffered some pain the way he made me feel with his lies and cheating. How can I get my feelings under control without going mad. Tammy

    Hi Tammy

    On and off relationships are difficult to have as the uncertainty is there of not knowing where you stand. It’s hard to not get attached to someone you are spending time with so when they go off as if they’re single it deeply hurts the person left behind. Your emotions are heightened which can also have an effect on your well-being or mindset. To constantly feel angry or revengeful is unhealthy and to conquer this you need to make some changes. Firstly one is to talk to this man and give him an ultimatum either he commits to you or your relationship is over. If you don’t make a stand he will continue to do it and your unhappiness will be prolonged. Sit down and discuss in an amicable way how you feel then decide from there if it’s make or break. The last thing you want to do is take revenge as this won’t achieve anything plus you could end up getting in trouble no matter how small or large. The best way to get revenge is to show him you are a strong person and move on with your life with a smile on your face.

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    How to Speed Date Successfully

    Speed Dating is one of the most long-standing forms of singles event, with events regulalry run in most Western countries most nights of the week. But what is the key to speed dating successfully?

    1) Choose a venue you would normally attend

    Ideally, choose a speed-dating event at a bar you know well. This way you will be more relaxed in your surroundings, and more likely to act like yourself. By choosing a location which you would go to socially, you have more chance of meeting like-minded people. If there aren’t any speed dating events in bars which you normally go to, choose locations similar to the ones where you and your friends like to go.

    2) Don’t go too far out of your way

    Before attending a singles event, think sensibly about the lengths you’re happy to travel to date. There’s no point choosing an event on the other side of the country if a long-distance relationship doesn’t appeal. And remember, it’s not just your dating parameters which you need to consider, but also the distance any potential matches are willing to consider. You may be happy to commute 50 miles into London each week to see a potential partner, but are they happy living so far apart?

    3) Choose a setting that suits you

    The great thing about singles events, is that they happen everywhere and anywhere these days. Make sure you consider what going to an event says about you. If you choose a speed dating event in a bar, other daters will assume you’re comfortable in that environment. If you select speed dating out in the countryside, you’re making a different statement about yourself and the type of dater you’d like to attract.

    4) Pay attention to the age range

    These days most speed dating events come with specific age limits. These age limits are of importance. We all have an idea of the partner who complements us best, and age is often a factor of great importance. Look at the age range for both yourself and your match, and ensure both of these fit your situation. Never turn up to an event which is not for your age-group. No one wants to start a relationship with a lie, and what may seem like a harmless oversight could cause issues in future.

    5) Think about niche areas

    These days there are increasing number of specialist events. Speed dating for those of a certain religion. Speed dating for those with a particular hobby. Events for specific professions. Think carefully about what is particularly important to you in a future partner. Might there be an event, which will attract him or her? Is there an event guaranteed to attract a number of people on your wavelength?

    6) Come prepared

    The trouble with speed dating is that often daters get tongue-tied. After two or three conversations, you can easily feel as if you’re treading old ground. Where you live. What you do for a living. It can get uncomfortable having the same conversation twenty times in an evening, even if it’s only for four minutes. So instead of becoming awkward, have a think about how you can spice things up. Prepare a couple of different questions, guaranteed to divert conversation in a different direction each time. Think about questions which might promote intrigue, or a positive response in the person, as opposed to sounding dull and cliché. Good examples include asking which three famous or historic guests he or she might invite to a dinner party, or asking a favourite childhood memory.

    7) Don’t disappear immediately at the end

    If the event takes place in a bar, often daters will stay one for at least one drink. So if you felt a connection with someone, strike up conversation again. Outside the strict speed dating set-up, it will feel more natural, and you’ve already broken the ice during the dating event. Use this time to properly work out if you get on, and don’t be shy to switch numbers ahead of the official emails from the company. This is normal life after all! Just with some added help!

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    Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World

    Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World – An infographic by the team at Giftcloud

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