26 Date Ideas for Your Anxious Partner

Anxiety can often make dating a challenge — unfamiliar people and environments might heighten the mental and physical symptoms someone with anxiety faces. This can make it difficult to plan a first date, or even an outing with a long-term significant other.   

That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community who struggle with anxiety what their ideal date would be. Because mental illness can — but shouldn’t — get in the way of enjoying yourself in the company of someone you’re getting to know or love.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “I like dates where we can just chill out. My significant other and I like to play video games next to each other, even if it’s a different game, we can just turn to each other and kiss and just be with each other without talking or it being too intense.” — Summer S.

2. “At home dates would be ideal because I’d be in my own environment. I use this for hanging out with friends too; I don’t need to know everything we are doing and I don’t mind not having anything in store, but I need to discuss possibilities of what we could be doing so I can have an escape plan for each place. Or I try to get to the movies because not having to talk for two hours helps keep me calm and then there is something to talk about after!” — Hannah G.

3. “I need to have an escape plan and almost zero pressure. My first date is nearly always coffee or a drink. There’s no pressure and a small amount of time, so I don’t get stuck socializing for too long; and easy escape, because I always meet them there and drive in. And always in public, regardless of where I met them.” — Carmin R.

4. “I’d rather not decide what to do, but I don’t want anything where there are a lot of people crowded and talking. My first serious date with this guy was a great one. We met his brother and sister at the shooting range. There was something calming about not hearing others talking with the protective gear on. I didn’t have to hold conversation, we just shot guns. And surprisingly, there was something about him seeing me shooting that gave me a confidence I hadn’t had before with him.” — Karrah M.

5. “Anything walking outside in the sunshine: farmers markets, walk in a park, beach walk, etc.. Dark enclosed spaces and sitting still at a dinner just staring at one another is too much for me. I get fidgety, my own thoughts take over and I cannot focus. Moving around, being outside, having sunlight on my face and other things to look at really helps me.” — Phoebe Z.

6. “Seafood dinner, walk and chat for awhile, a clear night overlooking the water. I enjoy the the water by the docks and walking around the park. It’s very peaceful, well lit and quiet, so I can see and pretty much hear from all aspects. Then I’d like to make movie snacks together and relax to a good movie. The best thing for me when I can’t turn it off is to distract my mind to something else. She comforts me in a way medication and the VA never has. Making the effort to make time when there really isn’t any time means more to me than anything and that is a huge deal.” — James M.

7. “A movie is the best date, it’s dark and quiet. A date can’t see how anxious or nervous I am if it’s dark. The worst place to go is to dinner, I won’t be able to eat with someone looking at me.” — Lacie J.

8. “Some place quiet, where there’s not much going on. The best date I’ve gone on was going to a baseball field to hit baseballs. It was quiet and there wasn’t a lot of pressure. Super casual and fun. He’s a baseball coach so I even got some pointers which broke the ice. I liked the fact that I could take all of my anxiety and literally hit it, and it also meant we had something to continuously talk about.” — Casey A.

9. “My ideal date would be getting up early and going to this local diner near me and getting breakfast, while they told me all about themselves. That would then be followed by going to a comic convention. It would finish off with us getting ice cream and going for a drive with no destination in mind for awhile, just jamming to music and sharing stories until I drove them home.” — Troy H.

10. “My favorite coffee shop, so that it’s a familiar place but there’s no pressure to reveal likes and dislikes about food, a conversation that has to do with each other’s lives rather than small talk and going Dutch so there’s no feeling of having to prove anything too soon.” — Tommie M.

11. “If it’s a first date, then let’s meet somewhere public where I know the menu. If it’s someone I’ve been dating for a while, then taking me to a museum or an art gallery, or even a day on the beach is fine as long as there is a general plan. I love knowing what’s going to happen and when! Surprises make me nervous, but if you must, then please give me a general idea of what to expect.” — Brandi P.

12. “A cozy night in baking. Something simple. I prefer to stay in than be somewhere noisy and/or crowded with people I might know staring in all directions.” — Beth G.

13. “Go to my favorite park. That’s my comfort zone and I won’t psych myself out thinking of the what-ifs. When I went on my first date with my now husband, we met at my favorite park under my favorite tree and talked.” — Chanel Y.

14. “Grab some good takeout of whatever we are craving, take a drive somewhere where we have a nice view, eat and talk about everything then go back to my place and play video games.” — Zoe S.

15. “Anything not in the center of public, preferably in nature. Like a picnic or a beach visit at night, or a camping trip with just the two of us. Things like going out to dinner or movies just set my anxiety off because I’m too anxious about public affection. I like personal and private dates.” — Shelby N.

16. “The ideal date is one they have planned. Anxiety makes decision making incredibly difficult. I’d rather stay home than go on a date where I would have to choose where to go for dinner, choose which movie to watch or drive myself there. They would have to pick me up or I may not show. Driving and the nervousness of even going on a date do not mix well for me.” — Brittney K.

17. “My idea of a date would be out watching stars with a picnic. That way I don’t have to deal with people. I don’t deal with crowds very well. Another date is buying a new movie and staying in with my hubby cooking a nice meal.” — Shana S.

18. “A comic convention. It’s literally the only place besides a concert that is super packed with people, but I feel hardly any anxiety because it’s something I love so much.” — Lauren N.

19. “I’d love to go to a peaceful museum where I don’t have noise and too many crowds to set off my anxiety. Or to a bookshop where we can pick out new books and find a calmer corner to share them with each other” — Blythe V.

20. “On my bad days, my husband orders us pizza and we binge watch my favorite shows. He doesn’t always enjoy the shows I pick, but he watches them with me anyway. He’s a good husband.” — Candice K.

21. “Hiking is a great first date. We can talk and I can focus on something. There isn’t food, so I don’t have to worry if I eat too much.” — Becca S.

22. “Come to my house, we can sing karaoke and have some drinks and end up watching old Disney movies in our pajamas until the sun comes up. Perfect date.” — Darby N.

23. “Mini golf at night, because it allows me to have fun and get fresh air, but avoid the crowds of people and feeling like I’m being stared at a the whole time.” — Carmen J.

24. “Here’s how my first date with my current husband went: Since we both struggle with extreme anxiety, he planned a perfect date. He came to my house, we drove to the neighborhood Redbox and rented a movie he wanted to take me to see. We drove to get food for dinner and drove back to my house, we cuddled up on my bed to watch the movie and eat together and then we went for a walk in the town I lived in at the time. We walked and talked for hours. To me, that was a perfect date. It’s a win-win and we save money and our emotional state at the same time.” — Amanda H.

25. “Bookstore. Picking out a book for one another and buying them, bringing them back to either of your houses to read together.” — Ariel S.

26. “A homemade fort, a computer with our favorite movies, our favorite snacks and a hot chocolate would honestly be the best date.” — Raechael A.

What would you add?

Getty image via Archv

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