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10 Tips for Using Dating Apps as a Person With Anxiety

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Finding the perfect match on a dating app can feel daunting for anyone, but using dating apps may feel especially overwhelming for people with anxiety. If you live with anxiety and want to try to find a partner on a dating app, here are 10 ways to manage your anxiety while swiping, chatting, and of course, trying to find love.

1. Include as much or as little information on your dating app profile as you’d like.

You don’t have to fill out every category on every dating app profile you make if you don’t feel comfortable. Include anything you think a date would want or need to know about you, and ignore the rest. Creating your profile is the first step in online dating, so why not make yourself comfortable from the get-go?

2. Know what you like before you swipe.

Before you start swiping, have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want a hookup? A friend with benefits? A date for a special occasion? A relationship? 

Take inventory of the qualities you want your matches to have, too. If you know you’re into intelligent people with winning smiles and no fish photos on their profile, then don’t swipe on people whose profiles are full of photos of their latest fishing trip. Pay attention to what people’s profiles say, and think about whether or not you’d connect with them well before you swipe.

3. Don’t start conversations if you don’t feel comfortable.

Unless you choose a dating app where a match of a certain gender is expected to start conversing, you don’t have to start any conversations with your matches. Seeing who reaches out to you and how they kick off a conversation can tell you a lot about what they’re looking for and how skilled they are at making connections with their matches. If you wait for someone else to start chatting with you, you can usually get a fairly immediate sense of whether they want a friendship, a relationship, or pure, unadulterated sex.

4. Unmatch if your match doesn’t pass your “vibe check.”

If you’re living with anxiety, you may wonder if you can trust your gut instinct when you feel worried or overwhelmed a majority of the time — but you still can. If your match is flirting with you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or simply gives you creepy vibes, it’s completely OK to unmatch with them. Your intuition is great at keeping you safe, so use it to weed out people whose conversations make you feel worried or unsafe.

5. Take dating as slowly as you want.

If your matches ask you on dates, but you don’t feel ready to meet in person yet, take it slowly. You can decide that you want to keep chatting before you connect with your matches “in real life” or even suggest doing a phone call or “video date” before moving on to an in-person meetup. Take the dating process as slowly as you need to — the right people will respect your boundaries and wait for you.

6. Tell your friends when you’re going on a date.

Whether you want to stay extra safe on your date or you just need a little extra encouragement to keep your anxiety in check, tell a few friends you trust before you go out. Let them know when and where your date is, what your date’s name is, and when you think you’ll be back. If you thrive on encouragement from other people, knowing your friends are hyping you up can calm your nerves a bit before you go out. Giving your friends the time and place of your date in advance can also keep those, “What if something happens?” thoughts a little quieter.

7. Manage your dating expectations.

You might not have a perfect fairytale connection with your first Tinder or Bumble date — and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you won’t find someone — it just means you probably haven’t met the right person for you yet. On the contrary, if your anxiety constantly convinces you that everything will go wrong, you might think that your date will hate you or you won’t like your date, but that might not be the case either. Anxiety often works in extremes, so try to remind yourself that there’s a middle ground — you can have fun and learn about yourself even if there’s no second date.

8. Be upfront about your feelings.

If you and your match are hitting it off before you go on a date but dating makes you feel anxious, sharing your feelings with your match may help normalize your experience. Sharing that you feel a bit nervous for your date might feel uncomfortable, but your match might also feel the exact same way. If your conversations are already running smoothly, mentioning your feelings around your upcoming date can help both you and your match feel less alone — and maybe even connect on a deeper level.

9. Get yourself in a calm headspace before your date.

When you have a date coming up, take extra steps to make sure you’re putting your mental health first. Stay on top of your medications, talk about your upcoming date in therapy, and use coping skills that work for you in the days prior to your date. Whether staying calm means taking a warm bubble bath, doing breathing exercises regularly, or cutting down on your favorite true crime shows for a few days, do whatever you need to “cope ahead” for your date.

10. Embrace the awkwardness of dating.

If your date doesn’t go exactly the way you envisioned it, you may feel your anxiety crop back up, but try to “embrace the awkwardness.” You may have silences, stumbles, or little missteps on your first date — and that’s completely OK. Remind yourself that even if your first date doesn’t go perfectly, you and your date may just have “first date” nerves.” You can watch your date go a little bit “off-script” and still land a second date if you feel a connection with your match. The right person will make the awkward moments fun and know that they don’t define how successful your date is.

Using dating apps as someone with anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, but there are plenty of ways to swipe, match, connect, hook up, and date while still caring for your mental health. Whether you’re new to dating apps or are trying hard to get off dating apps, take time to manage your anxiety, and don’t forget to have fun!

Getty image by Tonktiti

Originally published: June 30, 2022
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