By Lady Marmalade, January 18, 2018 —
Dating can be overwhelming. The pressure to constantly meet new people is exhausting and stressful at the best of times. And if you struggle with anxiety, the world of relationships and dating can be unbearable, especially in university. Feeling nervous before a date is normal, but experiencing extreme feelings of stress or nerves that lead to cancelling dates or avoiding outings isn’t. Whether you are meeting people in person, online or even through speed dating, there are some methods to keep your cool while putting yourself out there. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while navigating romance.
Don’t give in to pressure
Whether you’re looking for something long-term, a friends-with-benefits arrangement or anything in between, it’s important to be cognizant of how pressure is influencing your actions. There isn’t an expiration date on your ability to connect with others. Think about why you want to include intimacy in your life right now and why you feel the need to date. If it’s only because you are being pressured by others to get into a relationship, then re-evaluate whether you should pursue it. Experiencing external pressures can increase worries about your love life, so it’s important to only pursue relationships if they truly make you happy. The right people will understand your desires and won’t seek to change them. Put your needs above all else and take your time.
Seek professional help
Counselling can help combat relationship anxiety. For many, this anxiety stems from issues that aren’t immediately apparent. Speaking with a professional can help to uncover the more serious reasons that you’re feeling distraught. These services can be expensive, but there are plenty of resources around the city that accommodate student budgets. Ten sessions of counselling at the Wellness Centre in MacHall are paid for by your student fees. If you’re looking to escape campus, the downtown Calgary Counselling Centre provides therapy sessions priced on a sliding scale. Getting a professional assessment of your relationship anxiety is a step towards feeling comfortable putting yourself out there. It’s important to seek the help you need for your own well-being.
Online dating isn’t always best
Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and other apps that facilitate meeting people are a great resource for some, but these apps can be a nightmare if you have anxiety. They let you chat with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, but dates with strangers from the internet are terrifying. Expectations are high and the potential for embarrassment can make the whole situation very overwhelming. If these apps aren’t appealing, use different avenues to meet people. A great method is joining clubs on campus to connect you with people that have similar interests. If you are being yourself and are a part of things that you are interested in, there’s no harm in using it to meet potential love interests.
Utilize other anxiety coping methods
There isn’t a quick fix for feeling anxious about relationships and sex. Butterflies and stress are unavoidable when facing new situations. Take some deep breaths, rely on friends to support you and try some anxiety-combatting tricks. Often times, imagining the worst-case scenario can help you realize how far-fetched it is. If something awkward happens on a date, you can leave, and everything will be fine — the worst-case scenario might not seem that bad all of a sudden. It might even make a good story a few years down the road. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy yourself.
Articles published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.