Woman sitting at a table reflecting on how dating is stressful.Dating is often stressful, but in general, having fun with it is key.  If you are really stressed out, that can be a warning sign that you are not dating the right person.  It may also mean that you need to explore some things about yourself that will get down to the root cause of why dating is so stressful.

Here are some guidelines that are especially helpful if it feels like dating is too stressful for you to enjoy.  

First, keep the first date short.  That way, you can decide if there is any chemistry.  If there is no physical attraction, but you keep dating, this can lead to stress.  Feeling like you need to kiss someone you aren’t attracted to is a lousy feeling. So, if you’re not attracted, the person isn’t for you.

Another reason to keep the first date short is to make sure your date is polite and appropriate.  This means no sexual talk at all. Beware of too much intimacy, too fast. The first few dates are for getting to know each other.  Take it slow and make sure they listen to you. They need to be respectful and interested in you. Not in a hurry to declare that you are the love of their life.  They can’t possibly know that since they don’t know you yet!

Listen carefully to them, since warning signs usually happen in the first two or three dates.  If you are sick of being lonely, beware of jumping in too fast and deciding your date is the perfect person for you.  If you do that, it will be difficult to listen carefully, without bias. When dating, critical thinking skills are very important, so don’t get carried away with your emotions or your physical attraction.  

Enjoy those feelings, but don’t give yourself away.  Hold part of yourself back so you can still think things through.  In time, over a three to six month period, if the person really seems to be right for you, then you can be more and more open.

Spend the first three months getting to know who this person is.  Do fun things together and have experiences with each other. This can be hard o do, since we want it to work out.  It can be hard to ease your enthusiasm about someone, but, it is too easy to overlook warning signs and wind up attached to the wrong person.

Listen to your feelings.  If it doesn’t feel right, if you get a bad feeling, or you are unhappy, chances are they aren’t right for you.  You have to be able to be yourself and be honest about who you are. If it doesn’t feel safe, time to date someone else!

You need to see them on a regular basis.  They have to make time for you and for a relationship.  If they don’t have time, they aren’t prioritizing a relationship, so you will end up feeling unimportant.  Communication is key!

Write down the ten most important things you need in a relationship.  This will help you be clear about your own needs.

Date more than one person at a time so you don’t get overly invested in it working because this is the only person you have.

Relationship ‘firsts’ should be magical and special.  These are things like the first kiss, the first sleepover, or the first “I love you.”   There should be zero stress involved. If there is, then maybe you know deep down that this isn’t the relationship you should be in.  These firsts should be super special and you should both be on the same page. You should both be really thrilled that you’re in this relationship and excited about moving forward.

Your dates friends and family need to be respectful to you.  As you get to know their people, keep in mind that they need to be interested in you and want to get to know you.  This needs to be fun and be low stress. If you don’t like their friends, this can be a warning sign.

What if still feels like dating is too stressful?

If dating is miserable, or you can’t make the right decisions about the people you get involved with, then it is probably time to explore the root cause for this.  If you don’t trust yourself and your ability to choose wisely, it is important to enter therapy and find out what is underneath your relationship unhappiness.

Many people feel a lot of shame and loneliness.  When you feel shame, you feel like there is something fundamentally wrong with you, that you are a bad person.  This shame is usually linked to how you were loved as a child. If there was no unconditional love, no love without judgement, then you  grow up feeling bad about yourself. This can set you up to choose difficult relationships as an adult.

Many children are not mirrored in a way that they feel ‘seen’ as the lovable, adorable child that they truly are.  Instead, they feel constantly misunderstood, invalidated, invisible and unlovable, which leads to unbearable loneliness.  Then, you will be attracted to partners who don’t see you, either. This just recreates your childhood pain.

In therapy, we get to know the hidden hurt child.  Then, we can begin to love ourselves, and give ourselves self-affirming, loving messages.  We must learn to love ourselves. As we get better and better at loving ourselves, this leads to freedom from loneliness and pain.  In therapy, you can learn to love yourself.

Only after we truly love and accept and care for ourselves, can we seek out the love of a partner that has the mutuality and reciprocity we deserve and crave.

I use many tools to help you on your path to relationship success.  Together, we may decide to try neurofeedback, EMDR or Somatic Experiencing.  If you think that I might be able to help you on your healing path, please reach out to me.  My confidential email is mfoxmft@yahoo.com, and my phone is 310-314-6933.