Overcoming Online Dating Fears

Dear Cyndi,

I love flirting on online dating sites but as soon as it comes to meeting up with people I freak out and stop contact.  I’m terrified of meeting people in person. Do you have any tips for how I can overcome this?



Dear Greg,

What you’re describing is a common phenomenon in this age of internet dating. As we know it’s easy to create a fabulous persona behind a computer screen where we can create a fantasy of the kind of person we would like to be. This of course fills a great void for many people, but the problem lies in becoming attached to the idea of being someone’s fantasy figure, or beyond that, your own fantasy figure. All of this is profoundly unfulfilling for everyone concerned in a long –term capacity.

First of all, ask yourself what you are terrified of. If you are afraid of being rejected or of them not liking you, that is a very real possibility that everyone has to face from time to time. You are not alone there. You might not like them either! Not everyone likes everyone else.  Chalk that one up to acceptance.  If you are afraid of the fantasy ending…then don’t meet them! But accept that you’re really denying yourself a terrific opportunity for fun and companionship. (Do the honourable thing and let them know you have no desire to meet. It’s never OK to hurt someone else’s feelings because you’re too consumed with your own.)

Next, don’t let the online interactions go on too long before meeting. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fantasy of who you’re talking to, and start creating an image in your head of who this person might be as opposed to who they are. This can lead to you feeling overly intimidated which can be disappointing when you do finally meet.

Also, be realistic. Online dating is really hit and miss. Some people will be genuinely looking for love / sex / companionship, and others will be just playing around. Some will be truly great people and others will be mediocre or at worst, liars. The supermodel / entrepreneur / enigmatic artist at the other end of the chat room might not be as fabulous as they appear to be online!

Finally remember that blind dates are notoriously nerve wracking, and for some its part of the fun. Your date will most likely be feeling nervous too. Give yourself permission to be nervous, and state it! “I’m feeling a little nervous right now” is enough. This statement of fact can diffuse the nerves more than trying to fight them, and allows your date the permission to do the same! This is a much better way to start a date than under false pretences or getting too drunk  just to hide the nerves.

Letting fear hold you back denies you the opportunity to develop these skills and meet some wonderful people who you may never otherwise meet. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the ride.