Seven (7) Types Of Dating Stress You Can Go Ahead And Ignore

My now-boyfriend and I dated for about four months before agreeing to become boyfriend and girlfriend officially. What am I most reminiscing about from those four months? The pressure is on. Argh. God is omnipotent. There’s a lot of stress.

Before I left for our first date, I told my colleagues about every detail of how we met, and when I returned to work the next day, they immediately began asking, “Did I like him?” Is it true that I thought he was “the one?” “WE’VE has ONLY BEEN ON ONE DATE!” I recall wanting to yell. All around me was putting pressure on me to DTR as our summer fling progressed.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt pressured when it comes to dating, whether it’s the pressure to look a certain way, the stress for the first date to turn into something more, or the pressure always to appear flawless. It’s best to cut yourself some slack and let go when it comes to these seven causes of stress.

1. The pressure to look a certain way

Bella, 18, is concerned that he won’t like her body if she meets a guy in person. Jane, 24, finds that the people she matches with are under pressure. And she notices it in others: it turns out that the men and women she encounters in real-life use older or highly filtered current photos of themselves on their pages, all to appear as the most Likeable version of themselves.

“The first thing people notice about someone — particularly in a two-dimensional picture — is how they look, and with all of this editing software, it’s very tempting to put the best foot forward,” Jenny Taitz, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and author of “How to Be Single and Happy,” says.

“I’ve had patients tell me, ‘You can’t tell what my body looks like from my face image, and someone will condemn me the second they see my body,'” she says. One of her patients had avoided dating apps for two years because she was afraid of being rejected because of her appearance. “I urged her to return, and she is now dating someone exclusively, which was, like, her third date on the app,” says Taitz, who also encourages patients to recognize that insecurities are “just thoughts” and do not prevent them from dating.

If you’re under the impression that you ought to look a certain way,

It’s important to note, says Gary Brown, Ph.D., a dating and couples therapist in Los Angeles, that people who suit our cultural standards of beauty are few and far between. He says, “Most of us are ordinary.” “Well, guess what? Every minute of every hour of every day, ‘ordinary’ people are [dating]. They even find people with whom they are compatible. Looks are cool, but they aren’t going to decide your happiness in the long run. It would be more important to be who you are as a person — your beliefs, character, and willingness to communicate with others. Make an attempt to be a decent guy, and that should suffice. It will be for the right match for you.”

2. The pressure to get social media right

Many of us, particularly in our late teens and early twenties, feel compelled to be involved online without appearing obsessed with our digital lives. Take Havi, a 19-year-old woman. She spends a lot of time thinking about when interacting with guys she likes on social media would no longer be “weird.” “I tried to give a strange ‘Shrek’ meme, and I was like, ‘he’s not ready yet,'” she says.

“There is anxiety because [when you interact on social media], anyone might easily save it or reveal it to their friends,” Taitz explains. An in-person conversation, or even a phone call, has the advantage of being inherently private. The distinction between public and private is increasingly blurred as a result of social media.

When deciding whether or not to interact on social media, Taitz recommends considering how close you want to become with this guy. She claims that “how we behave influences how we feel.” So, if you do submit that meme, you may feel more connected to your crush as a result. If you want to opt-out, you will feel less insecure and linked. There is no correct or incorrect answer; it simply depends on the type of relationship you want. However, Taitz advises prioritizing IRL connections if you’re trying to get close. “Opening up is a part of bonding with others, and hopefully, it will happen in real life,” she says.

3. The pressure to be forward without being creepy

Brian, 27, is now married, but back when he was single, he was torn between these two seemingly conflicting ambitions. When he was single, he remembers feeling pressured to take the first step to keep the conversation going with women he was interested in. “But then, when it comes down to it, and you’re really being upfront with a woman you want, there’s this massive fear of coming off as the creepy guy who won’t leave her alone.”

The pressure on people, especially straight men, not to be creepy is a huge step forward for society as a whole, according to Taitz, because it suggests “increased mindfulness about being respectful toward women.” She believes that being gentle is the main difference between making the change and coming across as scary.

“So soon, too fast,” she says is the definition of creepy. “Being gentle and polite is the best way to endear yourself.” Let’s say you’re tempted to approach someone at a seemingly innocuous location, such as a bank. You might say something like, “Hey, I know this seems like an odd place to talk to someone you don’t know, but I thought we could communicate when you came in.” If you were willing to get a cup of coffee at any stage, that would be fantastic. I don’t want to put you on the spot, so here’s my information.” Even if you don’t follow her exact script, Taitz believes that approaching someone you’re interested in with gentleness and compassion would “eat the creepy factor.”

4. The pressure for the first date to “go somewhere.”

On the one hand, there’s a lot of pressure for a first date to lead to a second date; otherwise, it looks like we’ve wasted our time or are being rejected by someone for whom we’ve just been vulnerable. “First dates are fun, but there’s almost always this dark shadow that follows you on the date,” Marc, 29, says of his “anxiety” over whether or not a second date will happen. “As a consequence of this shadow, I find myself talking about the same thing for far too long, and I feel like I come off as a boring person.”

At the same time, we are afraid of being burdened with the shame of having to reject the individual who has just been open with us. “The most pressure I feel after chatting with someone on the apps is the fear of not enjoying them as much in person and having to deal with rejecting or ghosting them after the date,” Nora, 27, says.

Niloo Dardashti, Psy.D., a New York City-based psychologist, and relationship specialist, think we need to rethink first dates. She advises people to “try to [adhere to] the Buddhist principle of not being attached to the outcome.” “Of course, it’s easier said than done, but you go in with the attitude that I’m not attached to performance. This is a single evening in my life. I’m going on this date with the intention of seeing what happens. I’m just going to be and see how I feel, as well as how the other person is doing.’ This change in perspective will relieve us of a lot of the pressure we put on what each date entails, making us feel lighter.

5. The pressure to complete the requisite amount of small talk via text

Marc is under a lot of pressure to keep up small talk via text when all he wants to do is talk about the stuff that really matters to him. “I’d rather not talk about my favorite concert or what my last meal on earth will be most of the time,” he says. “Why should we be confined to questions that need a rapid response? I’d rather talk about politics and see if we hold similar viewpoints.”

Read: Facebook Dating Wants To Help You Turn Your Friends Into Lovers

Greg, 27, wishes he could only get right to the point of his matches. He says there’s a lot of pressure to do a lot of small talks. “People think it’s strange to ask someone out on a dating app right away because they “don’t know you.” But how can you get to know me via text? I’d rather meet you in person and learn more about you than read messages that 20 of your friends might have helped you write.”

Brown advises people to follow their instincts and start talking about what really matters to them. In reality, he believes that avoiding small talk can be beneficial. “It’s nice that you don’t want to live your life as though it were a stale sitcom of witty yet sometimes hurtful sarcastic banter.”

6. The pressure to be just sexually free enough

“I despise it when a guy thinks that just because I go on a date with him, it means I’m looking for a long-term relationship,” Jane laments. “Like, they’ll tell me in the most patronizing way that they’re not looking for a serious girlfriend, and I’m like, uh, who said I was trying to marry you, dude? I’m out on the field as well!” Dana, 36, says she felt judged when she put on her Tinder profile that she’s open to hookups. Her matches don’t always believe she’s telling the truth. People also call her “bold” for being so forthright about her interests, she believes. “It’s possible that this decision stems from the belief that women aren’t allowed to be daring or ask for what they want,” she speculates. “This is a patriarchal, old way of thought, and I refuse to accept it.”

“Women deserve to be able to concentrate on what they want without thinking about what other people think, particularly because there seems to be such a double standard,” Taitz says. People are in different stages of life and are searching for different things, so as long as you are polite and safe, no apologies are required.

7. The pressure to play your cards exactly right.

Alyssa, 19, worries that the guys she likes will stop liking her “out of nowhere.” When this happens, as it inevitably does to all of us, she desperately tries to figure out what she might have done wrong.

“There is something to be said for being self-aware, but there is also something to be said for [not] being hyper-vigilant about every little thing you do or say,” says Dardashti. “That can work against you because in trying to be perfect, you’re not authentic. The more you give off the vibe that you need to be something that you’re not, the more you exude a lack of confidence in who you are. And that’s a turnoff.”

Recommended: Facebook Dating Safety Guidelines

Rather than striving for perfection, Dardashti suggests gauging your own interest in the person you’re seeing. “Let’s say you’re interest is a nine out of 10,” she says. “Ask yourself, how would I be acting if my interest was a five out of 10 or a four out of 10? You might be looser, or you might be less concerned about anything you do, and so you might be more confident.” This mental exercise removes the pressure that naturally comes along with having strong romantic feelings for someone by serving as a reminder of how you’d behave if you felt like you had less to lose. “Just ride with the waves, and if you fall down, don’t focus on it. Visualize yourself getting back into yourself, centering yourself, and being who you would be if you didn’t feel this pressure.”

No matter what dating pressure you experience most strongly, experts believe that as nauseating cliché it is, the best bet is to just be yourself. And, TBH, it’s also your best shot at making some kind of meaningful relationship. I know it’s easier said than done, but yourself is the only thing you’ve been your entire life. You’ve had more practice than you thought.

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