How to Navigate Dating Apps When You Have Anxiety
There’s plenty to love about dating apps. The online and mobile platforms give you the chance to further your search for partnership no matter where you are and to meet people that you may never have encountered otherwise. They can bring you out of your shell and allow you to prioritize your love life no matter what else is happening in your life.
But that doesn’t mean that the dating app game is easy. Navigating the various platforms can be overwhelming at best and kinda traumatic at worst. And if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety, it’s that much harder. Dating giant Match tapped their scientific advisers for tips to help the anxious among us at every step of the process. Read on for the site’s list of best practices.
1. Limit your scrolling. Nothing will make you feel panicked about your dating prospects quite like the seemingly infinite options available to you. According to the Match team, the brain’s sweet spot is between five and nine choices. Any more than that and you’re more likely to get overwhelmed and frustrated and choose, well, none. Commit to reviewing no more than nine potential partners in a sitting to avoid triggering your anxious tendencies.
2. Keep your messaging manageable. While we’re talking about overwhelm, you need to limit the number of conversations you have in progress as well. Don’t put yourself in a position to try to keep track of more than a handful of threads at once. Juggling tons of messages will only stress you out, so be intentional about politely cutting off conversations that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
3. Don’t chat indefinitely. If you’re getting a good vibe about a potential love interest, don’t go back and forth with messages for weeks at a time. The chatting phase should be as short as possible: As soon as you feel safe and comfortable with someone, it’s time to suggest meeting in person. The longer you delay that face-to-face meeting, the more complicated the situation will seem and the harder it will be for you to interpret what’s really going on.
4. Find a reason to say “yes.” Per Match’s advisers, our brains are wired to say “no” — we call this a negativity bias — which can make things extra tricky when we’re seeking our one true love. Actively think about each potential partner’s positive traits. Training yourself to see the dating process from this perspective is bound to make you feel better about your progress.
5. Set a mental time limit for dates IRL. You don’t have to tell your date this, but you should go into every face-to-face meeting with a commitment to no more than 45 minutes of hangout time. That’s enough to know someone, but not so much that it leaves you feeling becoming overwhelmed.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If the love search process is proving an intense trigger for your anxiety, it’s perfectly okay — and encouraged! — for you to seek some extra support in the form of a professional therapist or counselor. Setting aside time to talk through your experiences with someone who doesn’t know you personally will give you an opportunity to process your feelings and see things from a fresh perspective.
(Photo credit Getty)