Your Call: I’m Too Anxious to Enter the Dating World

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We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section.

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Hi Em & Lo,

I’m a 20-something young lady who never dated throughout high school or university. I am a professional with a steady income, and occasionally go on dates. However, I can never let things get beyond a few dates because of my intense anxiety. I can’t ever seem to let the date get beyond going out for supper because I tense up when sitting with a guy on a couch.

I have a few guy friends and have no issues hanging out with them, but when it comes to the thought of dating or getting ready for a date, my stomach twists into knots and I freak out. I have never really been kissed because the couple of times it happened I didn’t let things get too far and kicked them out.

Part of my fear comes from the unknown – because I’ve never been in the situation, I don’t fully know what to expect. Also, even though logically I know that a guy is unlikely to go further than I want to, I’m afraid that he’ll push me beyond my boundaries. Which admittedly aren’t very far out there.

Have you got any advice to get over this? I really want to be comfortable enough with a guy that I can sit on a couch and watch a movie with him, and enjoy the intimacy that being in a relationship brings!

— Nervous Nelly

Do you have advice to share with Nervous Nelly on how she can conquer her anxiety and enter the dating world? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



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4 Comments on "Your Call: I’m Too Anxious to Enter the Dating World"

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I had a similar situation, and know that other people do, so don’t feel like you are alone. I would recommend starting small, to build your confidence. Maybe it is just giving your phone number to someone. The second suggestion I have would be fake it till you make it. I know this phrase is cliche but it works with this situation. If you can fake some of it–going in for a kiss, initiating anything sexual–the other person can pick up the slack. That being said, I’ve also admitted that somethings are new for me, I’ve admitted that I am… Read more »
Have you talked about any of this with a therapist? It sounds like there’s some kind of social anxiety going on. At the very least, a therapist might be able to help you identify the source of your fears and develop the tools to confront it. The first part of Johnny’s advice might very well work, but it could also go really, really badly and result in you having some kind of a meltdown. The second option, however, might work, unless it’s the thought of becoming sexual with anyone, not the lack of familiarity and comfort you have with your… Read more »
I’m an impatient man and I’m excited by fear, so feel free to disregard my advice if it doesn’t work for you. I’d just do it. It’s fear holding you back, not absence of desire. Face that fear head on. You could wait forever to be good and ready. You’ve waited plenty long already. Fuck that. Make a move. You can pick what the move is. Second base, a handjob, whatever. Make up your mind that no matter what, you’re going to invite the next guy you date upstairs and do [whatever] with him. Not just a kiss, either. You’ve… Read more »
Dave W
I’d say that if you feel anxiety because of uncertain boundaries, it might help to define the boundaries. On a first date with a guy, tell him that it might take a while for you to feel comfortable enough to get physical, even kissing. Also that, until you explicitly say otherwise, things will remain platonic. If he’s interested in finding a committed relationship with a cool girl, he’ll give you that respect. You don’t sound asexual or anything. After a certain number of dates, maybe transition to friend-type activities in more private settings. But make it clear that you don’t… Read more »