I Want To Be In A Relationship But I'm Not Motivated To Date

Here's what to do if you don't feel ready to date.
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Falling in love is one of the best feelings in the world. Being able to share your day-to-day experiences with the person you love is a truly transformative experience. But, getting there is not an easy or even enjoyable one.

Dating can be rough. Not everyone is lucky in love, some of us have to kiss a few frogs before we meet the right person. If you’ve ever experienced heart-break you’ll understand how that can affect your self-esteem and make you question if you’ll ever find love again.

This week’s reader, Sam, wants to find love but feels that he has some internal work to do.

“I’ve been single for the past two to three years after being in a two year relationship and I haven’t really been dating,” Sam says.

He shares that he was “really in love with my ex to the point where she was part of my identity. When we broke up I had the blues for more than a year.”

He distances himself from relationships in order to prioritise his peace and healing. “I got comfortable not dating but I’ve developed social anxiety and self-esteem issues that I’m working on.”

“But the anxiety makes me defensive instead of trying to challenge it. It feels like I’m in a deep rut that I don’t see getting out of by pushing myself.”

Sam knows he has to date in order to meet someone but he lacks the motivation to do so.“I don’t feel that push, should I push myself to get back out there,?” Sam asks.

He wants to find his forever person but is he ready to find them? Jessica Alderson who is a relationship expert and co-founder of So Syced thinks that it’s smart if Sam wants to take time to intentionally focus on his mental health before jumping into dating again.

“While romantic relationships can play a key role in our level of fulfilment, they aren’t everything. There is a time and a place for romantic relationships, and we can get our need for connection met by platonic relationships,” Alderson says.

What would you say to this reader?

Dating is fun but it also requires effort, time, and emotional investment. If you don’t have the energy to date, step back and prioritise your own well-being.

’It’s important to bring your best self to dates, and it’s ok to take the time you need to get there,” Alderson says.

She explains that: “Actively choosing not to date when you’re not feeling motivated can give you space for self-reflection and personal growth.”

Sam mentioned that suffers from social anxiety so taking a break from dating can enable him to focus on his mental health and well-being before actively dating. “This can lay a foundation for healthier and more fulfilling relationships in the future,” Alderson adds.

“Many of us could benefit from taking an intentional break from dating. The fact the reader is questioning whether he is ready shows a certain level of emotional maturity,” she explains.

How can social anxiety affect our dating life?

Social anxiety can affect different areas of someone’s life including dating. “For starters, people with social anxiety often have a heightened fear of being negatively judged by others. This fear can make dating particularly challenging, as it involves showing vulnerability,” she adds.

Social anxiety can also make it difficult for people to start and engage in conversations with potential partners. According to Alderson, “this is partly because the fear of saying something wrong, being awkward, or running out of things to say can inhibit natural conversation flow.”

As well as this, people with social anxiety often are often highly self-conscious and have a tendency to overthink.

That level of consciousness can lead to a heightened focus on their own behaviour, perceived flaws and body language which could detract them from being fully present during a date.

Those who suffer from social anxiety tend to have low-self esteem and often doubt their self-worth: “As a result, they may end up settling for relationships that don’t make them truly happy or struggle to set appropriate boundaries.”

If Sam wants a future partner, taking a break from dating can feel like moving in reverse but it’s usually a “one step backward, two steps forward” type of situation, according to Alderson.

She believes that: “By focusing on his own development, he can feel more confident and ready when he is ready to meet someone.”

How can social anxiety affect our dating life?

Alderson wants Sam to know that social anxiety is a common challenge and that many people navigate dating with it successfully.

She emphasises that “we all have our own unique hurdles to overcome, and finding love isn’t about being perfect.”

The expert advises Sam to consider working through his issues with a licensed professional. “Getting to the root cause of the anxiety and learning how to manage it is key,” Alderson says.

She continues: “This might involve challenging negative thought patterns, for example, or trying out relaxation techniques., so it’s likely that professional help in this area will be beneficial for him.”

It might also help Sam if he’s open and honest about his social anxiety with potential partners as it can foster understanding and support.

“If you have social anxiety, you shouldn’t feel pressure to tell someone on a first date if you don’t feel comfortable, but equally, it isn’t something to hide if you’d prefer to open up about it from the get-go. The right person will understand and show compassion,” Alderson explains.

When Sam feels comfortable to start dating, he should challenge himself to go on a few casual dates or meet new people through social activities can be a great way to ease back in.

“Online dating is another option that can help people navigate the process at their own pace. The fact that you can read someone’s profile before you meet them and chat beforehand can be comforting for some.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK