Life Advice


Health & Spirit

A socially-anxious person navigates online dating

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

I think online dating is a great idea in theory. But I have anxiety and the thought of spending a couple of hours with someone I don't know is enough to give me the sweats. What if he's weird? What if he thinks I'm weird? What if my anxiety makes me shaky and sweaty? What if I can't talk at all? What if there's no chemistry? What if he's a serial killer? The logical part of my brain knows none of these things matter (unless he really is a serial killer) and if it doesn't work out we'll both just move on with our lives.

But my anxiety will not be mollified. I've been single for an embarrassing length of time. I've been chatting with someone online who I look forward to meeting but the anxiety persists. I'm in therapy but the meeting will most likely happen before my next appointment (and her answer to everything is to meditate). Do you have any advice or words of comfort? -- Online Dater

I have advice of comfort.

-"[T]he thought of spending a couple of hours with someone ... give[s] me the sweats": Hours?! No. Hour, or less. Coffee or a drink to start, and have something you must attend afterward. Make it clear you'll meet at X o'clock, but just a quick date because you have to be at Y by Z o'clock.

--Sponsored Video--

-"What if he's weird?" Everybody's weird. They're just better or worse at managing it.

-"What if he thinks I'm weird?" See above.

-"What if [I'm] shaky and sweaty?" Then shake and sweat. What can you do? The alternative is not to date, and you apparently don't want that, so, there it is. You'll shake and sweat less on each successive date. It's just a learning curve like any other.

-"What if there's no chemistry?" Then you have a bad time. For 30 minutes. (See No. 1.) You'll manage.


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