Single and stressed: The impact of anxiety on dating

Written by Flirtini team

Key takeaways:

  • Some 92% of women and 71% of men experience dating-related stress at least occasionally.
  • For 26% of people, nerves simply make them say something awkward or do something clumsy every now and then, but for some the stress of dating has caused them to puke (11%) or pass out (22%).
  • To cope, 46% of women turn to their favorite comfort foods and 42% seek support from friends and family. However, 46% of men prefer to masturbate or have casual sex to calm their dating nerves.

What’s so difficult about a casual chat over a drink or two? Dating is so easy—until the next one rolls around and you actually have to get up, go out, and meet your match. Your hands are too shaky to put on your make-up and the pits of your perfect outfit are now soaked in sweat, so you’re forced to cancel.

It’s no wonder as dating is one of the most stressful experiences we put ourselves through and, if you want to find the one, there’s no avoiding it.

Flirtini surveyed 2,000 adults on their experiences with stress and anxiety while dating. While it can often feel like you’re the only one bumbling your way through a first date, the results show you’re not alone—and chances are your date is feeling the pressure too.

Cupid’s stress test: The emotional toll of dating

Why won’t your hair sit right, what the heck are you supposed to wear, and what do you do if your date is a total weirdo? As a planned date edges closer, it isn’t uncommon for worries to fill our heads and leave an anxious knot in the pit of our stomachs. In fact, 47% of people regularly experience anxiety due to dating, while dating-related stress is a daily occurrence for 37% of women.

Dating isn’t easy, especially if you’re a woman. There are plenty of stressors to deal with in society today, whether it’s finding a job in a barren market, managing your finances as the cost of living bites, or simply scrolling through a social media timeline full of bad news. But for 68% of women, there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than finding love.

Why? It might be due to social expectations—constantly being told you have to find a partner before you lose your looks—or it might be due to safety concerns, with women far more likely to experience harassment or abuse. It also doesn’t help that women are hardwired to worry more than their male counterparts.

For 54% of women, the main cause of dating stress is jealousy and trust issues, compared to 34% of men. This could be due to the fact women are almost twice as likely to have been cheated on by a partner previously when compared to men, another research shows.

Men are more likely to stress over their relationship status, with 28% fretting over whether or not they’re on the same page as their partner, compared to 14% of women. Are things moving too fast? Can I date other people? Are we a couple? These are the burning questions that fill men’s heads.

Dating disasters: It’s not you—It’s my nerves

We all experience the pre-date jitters, but for some the stress that comes with searching for love is just too much to bear. In fact, 65% of women and 25% of men have been forced to cancel a date due to their nerves.

They say the best way to deal with anxiety is to face your fears. The more you expose yourself to the dating scene, the sooner you will come to realize that getting to know new people really isn’t that bad.

That said, if first dates get you flustered, it might be best to take it slow. Despite getting out there and not letting anxiety get in the way of their love life, 63% of women and 20% of men have suffered a panic attack in the build up to a date.

Some 36% of women have passed out on a date due to stress, but that isn’t the worst thing that could happen—18% of women admit they have puked while on a date, for instance.

For men, the biggest stress-induced dating faux pas is behaving awkwardly and acting clumsily, which 30% are prone to. From making an awkward joke that doesn’t quite land to dropping your cutlery, or spilling a drink all over your date, we’ve all had those uncomfortable mid-date moments that make us consider changing our name and moving far, far away.

Chill and connect: Managing dating nerves

Dating nerves are easy to overcome. You just need to stop holding yourself to such high standards, learn to be confident in your own skin, and maybe reward yourself with some comfort food whenever you manage to get up, get ready, and go out on a date. For 46% of women, food is the thing they rely on most to cope with dating anxiety (closely followed by friends and family).

For men, work (30%) and hobbies (39%) are a great distraction, but not as much as masturbation and casual sex, which 46% rely on to relieve themselves. When finding love gets too much, a little self-love can go a long way.

If the thought of dating fills your stomach with butterflies, that’s okay. There are billions out there that share your feelings. As long as you put yourself out there, you’ll find someone that loves everything about you—anxiety and all.

Methodology: To create this study, researchers from Flirtini surveyed 2,000 adults aged over 18 years old. The study includes participants of all genders, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and from all geographies.

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