I know I call myself Carrie Lezshaw, but even the thought of going on a date sends me into an anxious spiral. I had the bright idea to ask women out right away on Tinder the other day, and as soon as I got an affirmative response, I sprinted to the bathroom*.
*You get the anxiety shits too, don’t lie.
As someone who loves all things black and spikey, but also loves all things pink and fluffy; who loves attention, but is painfully shy; who hates clinginess, but loves affection; who gets violently ill before the party, but thrives once I’m there; it only makes sense that I love dating, but it f*cking terrifies me.
This what my brain looks like: Pink or black? Goth or prim? Salacious or raw? Longform or shortform (I always choose longform, but I still deliberate). Writing or performing (they’re the same really). Wild or tame? Adult or trapped in adolescence (the latter, sadly)? City or California? Blonde or brunette? Brooding or brave? Wife or whacked out? Anxiety or depression (both have their perks). Wine or Champagne? Staying or fleeing? Always fucking torn between two vastly different options, always wanting BOTH, always wanting the best parts of both and always wanting to ditch the shitty (real) parts.
Zara gets it.
The things that scare me are the very things that feed me. There are two different sides of me constantly at war: the girl that wants to make a cup of tea and crawl into bed with an angry feminist book, and the girl that wants to smoke out her eyes, take tequila shots, and stay out till 4am. The girl that wants to stay single forever and masturbate my way through life to avoid human interaction, and the girl that thrives off of human connection and sex. The latter scares me a lot more. And the old saying is true: you should do one thing every day that scares you. Because those are the things that are usually worth it.
You might be thinking, how does a gal that suffers from soul-crushing anxiety and social awkwardness become Carrie Lezshaw, an expert in sex and dating? Which is why I have decided to reveal my dating-with-anxiety tips. Let’s start with a first date, shall we? These tips have been tested and approved by me, the anxious babe that manages to still date and get laid. This can be you, too!
1. Ask her out right away
This probably takes place on Tinder for most of you (if you’re anxious, I’m going to operate under the assumption that asking a girl out in person will make you vomit — I’ll help with that another time). Okay, so you’ve gotten a match on Tinder. You think she’s really cute. For me, messaging back and forth is a waste of time. Let’s just get to the date. “I think you seem cool and would love to get a drink sometime if you’re interested.” I know this seems daunting, but it has a success rate (article coming soon). Getting to the date right away will alleviate some of your anxiety. F*ck the waiting game. Get right to the end goal!
2. Plan the date
For the love of Lana Del Rey, be decisive. I already made a list of options for your anxious ass cause I love you. If you pull the whole what-do-you-want-to-do-I-don’t-know-what-do-you-think nonsense it will only trigger your anxiety more. Just make a plan and stick to it.
3. Groom yourself
A fresh spray tan and eyelash extensions always seem to soothe my anxiety. If I know I look good, that’s one less thing to worry about. Now is not the time to be frugal, my friend. Get the $80 blow out. You’re trying to impress.
4. Prepare for all scenarios (hint: sex)
Avoid the anxious moment of holy f*ck she wants to have sex and I haven’t shaved in weeks (unless you aren’t into shaving, which is fine by me, babe). So just apply my rule to whatever you do to prepare for sex. I know it seems like an improbability when you’re too anxious to even pronounce the name of the entrée you want, but there is a possibility you will get laid tonight. Don’t be the girl frantically prepping for sex in the bar bathroom. I’ve made this mistake before, thinking there is no way I’m going to have sex on the first date. But I almost always do.
Because at the end of the day, we’re all just horny dykes, darling.
5. Have a pre-date plan
THIS IS ESSENTIAL. There are two ways that I have managed my crippling pre-date anxiety.
A) Go out with a close friend before, somewhere close to your date. This is an excellent way to forget about how anxious you are, loosen up, and get some support. Your friend can even walk you to the bar you’re having your date at. Getting some human interaction with someone you know and love will get you out of your head and ease you into the date. Also, eat something so your blood sugar doesn’t get low and make you all panic-y. I used to starve myself before dates so I’d look skinny, but then I’d be so hungry and jittery, I couldn’t function properly.
B) Show up early at your date spot, get a table, and have a drink by yourself. One of my biggest fears about dating is that awkward first moment where you have to look for the person in the bar or restaurant. My good old anxiety and OCD make my thoughts spiral: What if I don’t recognize her? What if she doesn’t recognize me? What if there’s only one seat available at the bar? What if I’m still sweaty from the subway when I show up? What if I’m out of breathe from the stairs? What if a track of my hair extensions falls out? What if I die? Etc.
The last date I went on, I had a stroke of genius. I got to the restaurant early, babes. Sounds simple but it made all the difference in my anxiety. I got a table. I took a few deep breaths. I checked my reflection in my phone camera. I had a Pinot Grigio by myself (this step is KEY). I made cute small talk with the waiter. I had time to de-sweat. The longer I sat there, the more my nerves seemed to slip away. Once my date got there, she found me at the table, calm, cool and collected. And all was well in anxious lesboland.
6. DEEP BREATHS
Common sense but seriously! In through the nose, out through the mouth. Try it with me: In through the nose, out through the mouth. Also if you are so anxious to the point of intense nausea like me, try Chimes Ginger Chews. They are also amazing for hangovers. You’re welcome.
7. Admit that you’re nervous
Whoever I’m dating is going to eventually find out that I’m the queen of anxiety anyway, so why not just be honest? Saying you’re nervous takes the power out of being nervous. And it can be cute AF. Trying to be cool and apathetic all the time is overrated.
8. Don’t say “so tell me about yourself”
I get it: you want to seem interested and ask questions, but one time a date told me I was treating her like I was interviewing her for a job. SO embarrassing. But a good critique.
9. Remember your date WANTS to like you
Their goal is the same as yours. When I was interviewing for GO and having a mental breakdown because I wanted the job so badly, I turned to my favorite editor from Racked, Alanna Okun, for advice. She did not disappoint: “A way to banish nerves is to realize that they WANT you to be the right person for the job — it solves their problem just as much as yours!” Apply that to dating and it’ll change your whole perspective. Also, your date is probably just as nervous as you.
10. Remember it’s not that serious
If the date sucks, it’s a funny story. It’s not going to ruin your life. It’s not that serious. If your date rocks, you go on another. It’s not that serious. Until you U-haul, that is.
Dayna Troisi is proud to be a staff writer at GO Magazine. Her essays have been published in Buzzfeed, Vice, SELF, Racked among others. Dayna is passionate about writing essays that focus on lesbian dating, beauty + fashion and her badass bionic arm. Dayna has an MFA in poetry from Hofstra University, where she also taught Creative Writing. Dayna serves as GO’s nightlife editor and loves to turn up at queer NYC bars & clubs. She identifies as a dyke princess/Jenny Schecter fan-girl and lives on Long Island to be closer to her lash and spray tan technicians.