I like to think I'm a fairly fearless person but when it comes to first dates I literally go into fight or flight, full on, dry mouth, shaking panic mode.
It's all very well our friends telling us to 'put ourselves out there' but until they've know the terror of sharing drinks with a total stranger and panicking about what to say next or who's going to pay the bill, then they don't have a clue.
However - if we know anything about following Jesus then we know that fear is an obstacle that can stop us from stepping into what he has for us next. Whether you've decided to date or not, we don't want fear to stop us from doing anything.
So here's some advice if you're looking for love but fear of dating is getting in the way.
1. Practise chatting to strangers
This might sound weird (and against any stranger danger advice you were given as a child) but it's really good to practise talking to people you don't know outside of a dating context.
Meeting new people and being approachable and open is not an easy skill - especially for introverts.
Try it out at church or visit a friend's church with them and meet some of their friends. As with every fear - the more you gently confront it, the more you realise it's not as bad as you thought (this pretty much applies to every phobia except sharks and venomous snakes...)
2. Meet people in groups
One of the great things about Honoured events is that you can bring along friends (they don't have to be single) and meet people in a relaxed environment. There's not a focus on meeting people romantically so it's easy to have natural conversations with people and make friends without feeling any pressure (shameless plug - check out all the events we have coming up and plan to be there!!).
But you can also generate this environment yourself - pester your friends to organise parties or evenings out where you can meet their other friends, take every opportunity to go to wider Christian events outside your church, volunteer to help at things, join clubs or sporting groups... there's so many ways to pro-actively meet new people without going on dates!
3. Don't wait for the perfect date
In our upcoming podcast on dating we'll be talking about standards and how you choose who you'd like to date. I think it's good to have some non negotiable but it's also good to give people a chance... meeting someone in person is very different to a dating profile - so many of the things we might find attractive - someone's laugh, someone's smile, your chemistry with someone - can't be conveyed until you meet in person.
So don't wait until you match with someone who you think will be your future wife/ husband because you may crack under the pressure. Go on a few wild card dates and see what happens.
Hope that's helpful.
While I don't want to diminish the fear that can come from dating, I also find it helpful to have people in my life who remind me that fear is not from God. He is with us, wherever we are and whatever we're doing - so we can have confidence that if we step out and take a risk, he'll be with us and we'll be fine - even if the date turns out to be an utter disaster!