How to Overcome Social Anxiety On Dates & Enjoy Yourself

overcoming social anxiety on dates (autism)

When it comes to managing social anxiety, one of the most effective tools in the toolbox is breathing. And we’re not talking about just any breathing – we’re talking about deep, diaphragmatic breathing. The kind of breathing that makes your belly expand like a balloon. The kind of breathing that makes you feel like you’re taking up all the space in the room.

But why is breathing so important? Well, for one thing, it helps to calm your nervous system. When you’re feeling anxious, your body goes into fight or flight mode, which means your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes shallow, and your muscles tense up. By taking deep breaths, you’re signaling to your body that everything is okay, and it’s time to relax.

So, how do you do it? Start by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit or lie down, and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath through your nose, and feel your belly expand. Hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process for a few minutes, or until you feel calmer.

The Power of Positive Self-Talk

Another effective tool for managing social anxiety is positive self-talk. This means talking to yourself in a kind, supportive way, rather than criticizing yourself or putting yourself down. It might sound a little silly, but trust us, it works.

One way to practice positive self-talk is to look in the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself that you’re capable, that you’re worthy of love and affection, and that you’re going to have a great time on your date. You can even give yourself a little smile or a wink to reinforce the positive message.

Of course, positive self-talk isn’t just for the mirror. You can practice it anytime, anywhere. If you’re feeling anxious on your date, take a moment to close your eyes and give yourself a mental pep talk. Remind yourself that you’re doing great and that you’re capable of handling whatever comes your way. With a little practice, positive self-talk can become a powerful tool for managing social anxiety.


Pre-Date Pep and Prep

how to be a good partner to someone autistic

When it comes to dates, location can make or break the experience. For those with social anxiety, choosing a comfortable location can mean the difference between a successful date and a disaster. It’s important to choose a location where you feel comfortable and confident.

For example, if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed in crowded places, a quiet coffee shop or park might be a better choice than a bustling restaurant or bar. On the other hand, if you thrive in social situations, a lively bar or concert might be just the ticket.

Conversation Ammo

The thought of making small talk with a stranger can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Preparing some conversation topics ahead of time can help ease the anxiety.

It’s important to keep the conversation light and positive. Avoid heavy or controversial topics like politics, religion, or your ex. Instead, focus on topics that are easy to talk about and that you’re genuinely interested in.

Here are a few conversation starters to get you started:

  • What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
  • Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?
  • Do you have any pets? What kind?
  • What’s your favorite type of food?

Remember, the goal of a first date is to get to know each other and have fun. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to come up with the perfect conversation topics. Just relax, be yourself, and let the conversation flow naturally.


Navigating the Date-scape

Going on a date can be nerve-wracking, but decoding the menu can be even more intimidating. For individuals with autism, the sensory overload of a restaurant can be overwhelming, and the pressure to make a good impression can be daunting. Fear not! Here are some tips to help navigate the menu:

  • Check out the menu online beforehand to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the server questions about the menu. They are there to help!
  • Stick to familiar foods if trying something new is too stressful.
  • Avoid foods that are too messy or difficult to eat, unless you’re feeling adventurous!

To Script or Not to Script (That is the Question)

For individuals with autism, social interactions can be anxiety-inducing. The pressure to make small talk and maintain eye contact can be overwhelming. To script or not to script? That is the question. Here are some things to consider:

  • If scripting helps reduce anxiety, go for it! But be sure to practice with a friend or family member beforehand.
  • If scripting feels too rigid, try to focus on asking open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break from the conversation if needed. Excuse yourself to use the restroom or take a breather outside.


Post-Date Analysis

Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for those with social anxiety. But what happens after the date is over? Should you spend hours analyzing every little detail, or should you just let it go? The answer is somewhere in between.

First of all, it’s important to remember that no one is perfect. Even the most confident and suave individuals make mistakes on dates. So, if you said or did something that you’re now cringing at, don’t beat yourself up about it. Chances are, your date didn’t even notice.

That being said, it’s still important to reflect on the date and identify areas where you can improve. Did you struggle with making eye contact? Did you have trouble coming up with conversation topics? Take note of these things and work on them for next time.

One helpful exercise is to make a list of things you did well and things you could improve on. This can help you focus on the positive aspects of the date while also identifying areas for growth.

If you didn’t feel a connection with your date, that’s okay. Don’t force something that isn’t there. Instead, focus on finding someone who you truly click with.


When Things Go Awry

Dating can be awkward, even for neurotypical individuals. But for those with social anxiety, it can be even more challenging. It’s important to remember that awkward moments are inevitable, and it’s how we handle them that matters.

One way to embrace the awkwardness is to use humor. When things go wrong, try to find the humor in the situation. Laughing at yourself can help ease the tension and make your date feel more comfortable.

Another way to handle awkward moments is to acknowledge them. If you accidentally spill your drink or trip over your own feet, don’t try to pretend like it didn’t happen. Instead, laugh it off and make a joke about it. This shows that you’re comfortable with yourself and can help put your date at ease.

Everyone experiences awkward moments, even your date. If something awkward happens, don’t assume that it’s the end of the world. Your date is probably just as nervous as you are, and they’ll appreciate your ability to handle the situation with grace and humor.

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