I don’t even know where to start! Just thinking about dating intimidates me. What do I do if I meet someone I like? What do I say? How do I know if they will like me? What if they think I’m crazy? What do I do if I go on a date and don’t like them?
For someone who is introverted or somewhat shy, dating can be overwhelming. A lot of people have expectations of dating which increase the anxiety. Here are some common expectations people have. I need to be in a relationship to be normal. I need to find the perfect partner. This date means forever.
First of all you don’t HAVE to fall in love or be in a relationship. Many people choose to be single and live very fulfilling lives. If you free yourself from the notion that you MUST be in relationship, some of the pressure around dating will decrease. Don’t pressure yourself to date just to say you are in a relationship. It is okay to wait until you meet someone who is really worth your time. Just because you decide to date doesn’t mean you will meet anyone worthwhile right away. Be okay with being single and you won’t have that desperate vibe coming off of you when you do actually meet a decent person.
It is also hard to date if you are looking for the “perfect” person. There are people out there that may be easier for you to get along with, but no one is perfect. If you such high expectations, you may be alone for a very long time. Not that you have to settle, but anyone you plan to live with for more than 5 days is going to have some personality quirk that is going to bug you at some point. What bugs the crap out of me, may not bug the crap out of my friend. The goal is to find someone who bugs you the least. So try to let go of finding the person who you think will never bother you or have a conflict with you. It isn’t realistic. By the way, you may also want to let go of trying to be the perfect person. You don’t have to wait until your skinnier, smarter, funnier or wealthier to start dating.
Dating is about finding out what works for you and what doesn’t. That is why it isn’t called marriage. A date doesn’t mean forever. Some people are so afraid of being hurt or hurting someone else that they avoid dating. It’s too much pressure to imagine that the first person you date will be the best match for you. Its like trying on clothes, you may have to try on a few before you find the one that fits the best. You or the other person may decide after a few weeks or months that it isn’t going to work. That is okay! The whole point of dating is to get to know someone better. It is possible that once you get to know someone you find out that you don’t really like them as much or vice versa. It is a risk, but that is what life is about. If this person doesn’t turn out to be Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful hopefully you had fun and learned something new about what you do or don’t want in a potential partner.
To meet people you have to make yourself available. If you are an introvert you are probably most comfortable in your own environment and have your few close friends. This doesn’t make it easy to meet new people. You will have to push yourself to go outside your comfort zone. I’ve had people ask me why it is so hard to meet a nice person. I usually respond that a lot of great people are sitting at home on Friday night like they are so they never run into each other. A lot of people don’t want to meet someone in a bar. There are other ways to meet new people. You can join a student organization that interests you or participate in intramural sports. You can also find a group of people off campus who like to do the same things as you do. Examples are running clubs, book clubs, bowling leagues, volunteering for a charity you like, or find a spiritual or religious group to connect to. The possibilities are endless depending on your interests.
You also have to have an open attitude. You have to be open to having fun, learning new things, and maybe being disappointed. If you are willing to face that fear of possibly being rejected, then you will be open to finding love. Be aware that having a positive attitude and showing your attraction to someone is attractive. A lot of people have reported to me that they were initially attracted to their mate because he or she smiled at them and showed an interest. People take it as a compliment that you show interest and that may be what gets you that first date. As an introvert, I’m more conscious of what others are thinking about me. In order to date I had to take the focus off of me and just try to reach out to people I wanted to get to know better . I’m usually not an initiator but I decided if I wanted to date I would have to initiate even when I felt really nervous. The real key was being open to rejection and being disappointed. Once I got through that it made things a little easier.
It is okay if you aren’t ready or wanting to date. Like I said earlier, you don’t have to be in a relationship to be normal and have a social life. However, if you are just letting fear hold you back, I challenge you to try something new and see what happens. Good luck!!