The tips below are provided to give you a general structure and guidelines to follow in dating. It is often very stressful to date or to try to date when you are shy.
If you find that you are unable to complete any of the tasks below, or if you become very distressed when attempting to complete these tasks, have panic attacks, or severe anxiety, I recommend that you work with a psychotherapist when using the tips. Counseling can offer you much needed support as you go through the dating process and can also, in some cases help you speed up the process of meeting new people.
First of all, let’s talk about risk taking and dating. There is no way to avoid taking emotional risks when dating. Give yourself support, and seek out support from others as you do this. Be gentle with yourself. Get extra help if you need it as you would for any other important area in your life. Good luck.
Steps in the Dating Process with Extra Help for Social Anxiety (Shyness)
- Plan out dating as you would any other important area of your life. Commit yourself to taking the time and energy to finding people that are right for you to date. Be discriminating and expect for it to be bumpy. Remember dating is a numbers game. You may need to meet several (10-20) new people before finding someone that you really click with.
- Practice one of the relaxation strategies described in the section on managing stress and anxiety everyday.
- Read the section on handling rejection and try to understand your own feelings about rejection before you begin the dating process.
- Pursue coed activities (gay activities if you are gay) that interest you. These can be biking, hiking, photography, self-help seminars, volunteer or charitable organizations, literature classes etc. Plan to participate in one or more of these activities one or two times a week every single week of your life until you are in a serious relationship.
- Once you are attending your activities on a regular basis, begin to ask people out one after the other. Usually coffee or lunch dates work best for a first date. Start by chatting with the new person about the activity you are both participating in, then casually ask if the person would like to get together some other time. (This works if you are a man or a woman) If you are a woman and would rather go the traditional route then just let the person know that you like them and would like to get to know them better.
- Before you go out: Sit down, do your relaxation exercise and visualize how you would like the date to go. This should be a positive visualization and you should create the visualization in such a way that you enjoy the experience. Doing this helps your mind prepare for the date.
- Going out: When you go out on a date, be curious about the other person and use this curiosity to focus on whether or not you like the person. Ask questions and create conversation out of mutual interests even if you do not know much about the subject at hand. Since you have been sharing an activitity together you already have the basis for a conversation. Allow for some quiet awkward moments during this date, it always happens.
- The next date or dates: Once you find someone that you have connection and some chemistry with, follow up with phone calls or e-mails just to get to know the person. (At this point you need to be prepared for rejection, this is often the toughest part of dating. Remember you are building a connection with this person and regular communication is essential.