Dating Anxiety: Where to Meet People

Meet potential dating partners at the gym.
The gym can be a good place to meet potential dates. Getty / Blend Images / JGI/Jamie Grill

If you are chronically shy or suffer from extreme social anxiety, you may have trouble developing romantic relationships. Traditional spots for meeting partners such as bars or the the local supermarket require you strike up a conversation—a task that can be difficult if you have severe anxiety. If you live with social anxiety disorder (SAD), or simply count yourself among the chronically shy, chances are that you will find yourself tongue-tied in these situations.

Fortunately, there are many ways to meet people that do not require you to display wit or charm on cue. Below are some methods for meeting people if you live with social anxiety.

Friends or Family

Enter the dating scene by letting family and friends know that you are looking. Those closest to you likely have a good sense of your unique qualities and who might be compatible as a dating partner.

Going on a date may also feel less nerve-wracking if your potential suitor is a friend of someone whom you know. Best of all—you won't need to try out any pickup lines, as the family friend date can be arranged through your mutual contact. Your friend or family member can arrange a blind date, or you could go on a double date to make the first encounter less stressful.

Community Groups

Don’t overlook groups to which you already belong, such as your church or neighborhood association. If you have not been very active in attending events organized by these groups in the past, try helping to organize their next event.

As you work alongside others in the group, they will become more familiar to you, and you may find yourself more at ease exploring romantic possibilities.

Service Organizations/Volunteering

One of the best ways to meet potential romantic partners is to join a service organization or spend time volunteering.

Choose an organization with a cause in which you believe, such as protecting the environment or animal rights, and you will meet like-minded people.

Working together in a group creates a sense of camaraderie that makes it easier to get to know people on a personal level.

Educational Settings

Whether you are in college or university, or just taking an adult education class, meeting people in a classroom setting has many advantages. Classes usually last for several months, giving you enough time to get to know people.

Difficult assignments or upcoming exams give you an excuse to get together for study sessions or to compare notes. Best of all, being in the same class gives you an automatic topic for conversation—what do you think of the teacher, are you enjoying the class? Having common ground is much easier than starting from scratch.

Online/Personals

Don’t be too quick to discount using online dating services or personal ads. The hard part of meeting people, that is, approaching strangers, is much easier in an online environment.

People who place personal ads online or in the newspaper are also usually serious about finding romantic partners. Best of all, you have the chance to carefully put together a personal description that reflects your true inner spirit—qualities that are probably not going to shine through during a quick encounter.

Sports

Even if you have never played sports in your life, they can be a great avenue for meeting people. Joining a beginner sports league such as baseball or volleyball gives you the chance to learn a new skill while also building new relationships.

In addition, watching how others handle themselves during a game—whether they show good sportsmanship and offer help and advice to newcomers to the sport—can tell you a lot about how they would conduct themselves in a romantic relationship.

Hobbies and Clubs

If you don’t already have a hobby, think about what interests you. Perhaps you always wanted to join a book club or gardening group.

By participating in a hobby with opportunities for social gatherings, the odds of you meeting like-minded people will increase. Best of all, if your hobby is a passion, you will find it easier to strike up conversations with people you meet who share your passion.

Specialty Stores

Browsing in a specialty store gives you the opportunity to meet people with similar interests. Take notice of the books that strangers are looking at or the music that they pick up.

If you see an opportunity to comment on an item that you like—take it. Talking with people about things you are passionate about is easier than grasping at conversation topics.

A Word From Verywell

If you are just shy or nervous about dating, you probably still push yourself to go on dates and form romantic relationships. On the other hand, if you live with SAD, you may avoid romantic pursuits altogether.

Unfortunately, if this behavior is allowed to continue over a long period of time, your chance of meeting someone and having a satisfying romantic relationship is greatly reduced. Proper diagnosis and treatment including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication can help you to overcome the symptoms of SAD. Take the first step toward getting help and you will become more open to meeting new people and excited about the romantic prospects that await you.

Sources:

Columbia University. Where to Meet New People Over the Summer.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meeting People at and around MIT.

University of Vermont. How to Meet People in College.

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