Deconstructing Love #8: How to Stay Relaxed In The Early Stages of Dating

Welcome back to our Deconstructing Love column where Aaron Zhu, our guest writer, and I will be deconstructing quotes or answering questions on love and relationships — Please feel free to send in your own quotes and questions by emailing me at

Here’s this week’s question:

How to stay relaxed in the early stages of dating?


It’s 2019 now, let’s not run the “who could care less” contest. I understand neediness and its effect on attraction. Trust me, I read a whole book about neediness and its effect on dating (“Models” by Mark Manson). What I learned is there is a huge difference between pretending to be relaxed and actually being relaxed. Similarly, there is a huge difference between feigning confidence and being confident. And unfortunately, in the dating world, fake confidence doesn’t pass. Yes, you might get the girl with confidence gimmicks and games, but that will never last because you can’t fake it forever.

So for the sake of saving our own time and other people’s time, let’s talk about how we can look within ourselves to find a permanent solution to “staying relaxed” in the early stages of dating. With some exceptions, the ability to stay relaxed is largely derived from confidence. Confidence is a very vague topic but for this particular question, confidence is essentially understanding that you are valuable and wanted.

One of the reasons why a lot of individuals may feel anxious or tense in the early stages of dating is that they are too concerned about what the other person thinks of them. It might seem normal to worry about what the person you’re dating feels about you; of course you want them to like you. However, getting too absorbed in those thoughts makes us forget one vital question: how do we feel about them? Before we consider how someone feels about us, we should first think about how we feel about them. After all, how we feel about others is within our control while other people’s feelings towards us are not.    

You are a valuable person who brings a lot to the table. When you truly start to believe this about yourself, you’ll find it easy to stay relaxed in the early stages of dating. If a date doesn’t lead to anything significant, it’ll be fine. Not everyone has chemistry and it’s nobody’s fault. Furthermore, if someone you’ve been out on a couple dates with changes their mind about you, you’ll know that it’s not about you and one day, you will find that special person who you are compatible with.


I agree with Aaron. Definitely, it’s a lot about confidence. If you’re confident, you will see that it’s about you choosing a partner as much as you being chosen, and so you have that power of assessing others too.

On top of this, I think it’s also about your approach. Some people make the mistake of deciding on someone too early on based on superficial factors or out of a scarcity mindset. Their focus, as a result, is quickly placed on producing a certain outcome instead of letting the relationship unfold naturally, which makes it impossible for them to be themselves and relaxed.

That said, let me just say, it’s absolutely normal to be anxious in the early stages of dating. Of course it’s nauseating. Everything is flimsy and confusing. Once something seems to be off, it isn’t just about this one relationship; it also brings up millions of other unresolved things from the past, and those haunting hurt feelings are not easy. They cut deep. 

So first and foremost, don’t be too hard on yourself. Tell yourself whatever happened, however you feel, it’s okay. Your anxiety level won’t just change at the snap of the fingers as you convince yourself you’re confident. It doesn’t work like that. It’s a journey. With every new date, every new relationship, as you put in the work to get better, you will see yourself evolving slowly in some way. Remember to recognise and celebrate that. 

Now, practically, what can we do to minimise this early dating anxiety?

What works for me is to keep living my life the way I’ve always done it before this new person enters the picture. I make room for the new person but I’m not in a rush to change anything about my current lifestyle. I still have my hobbies, my friends, my own world outside of this person. When something makes me anxious, I stick to my commitments, and this signals to my brain that I was okay before this person and I’ll continue to be okay on my own if that’s the case. My life is not on hold for anything. My life goes on. 

In short, take it easy. Forget about the outcome. Try to establish some sort of communication routine so you know what to expect. Learn to trust. Take people at face value. Give them the benefits of the doubt. If it gets too much, take a step back. Don’t react. Wait for some time to pass then think through the situation. Act like a confident person would. If nothing works, just be honest about your anxious feelings to this person. Don’t worry about being uncool. It’s something you’ve been living with; it’s important to you — sooner or later they will have to know. If they can’t at least respond to your anxiety right now like a friend would, it’s probably not going to work out anyway. 

I read this very sweet quote recently that says: “When we started dating, I told my wife, If I say something and it can be taken two ways, and one of those ways makes you upset, trust me, I meant the other one. I’d never say anything to hurt you.” I think in the early stages of dating, we could all benefit from assuming the best until proven otherwise.  

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