Overcoming anxiety over intimacy and rejection


Dear Franny,

I don't have much experience with dating. I was molested at a young age and it seems that I have to really know someone before I get involved or begin to have feelings for. Within respect to that, there are times when I develop an attraction to women from afar, over the internet. Do you have any advice to get out and meet women without having such fear and anxiety? Thank you!

Hi Doll,

It always makes me so angry to hear that someone has been molested. It is so unfair and enraging. I wish that didn’t happen to you, but as you know you are not alone. If you haven’t already, I recommend talking to a professional counselor, therapist or a support group for survivors of sexual abuse. It’s important that you get the support you need. 

Now, to answer your question about meeting women without anxiety. It’s not going to be easy, but it is simple – your job is to recalibrate your tolerance for fear and uncertainty.

What I mean by that is, there is no magic bullet that’s going to make it easier for you to talk to women.  When people talk about making change – any kind of change in their lives – oftentimes they get stuck on wanting the change to be easy. They wait for the thing that’s going to be a shortcut to losing weight, or changing jobs, or transforming their love lives.

In reality, the only thing that is going to make it easier for you is to gain more confidence, and the only thing that’s going to help you gain more confidence is by consistently putting yourself out there with women. Even if they “reject” you (I don’t view it as rejection, which is an emotionally loaded word, but you know what I mean), if you focus on “well, that was uncomfortable, but I’m still standing”, eventually you will realize the worst thing that can happen is you tried. 

Please check out Rejection Therapy, which was a brilliant social experiment that has turned into a full-blown movement. I hope it can inspire you. Fear is a primal response, and our brains react the same way if we are in mortal danger or if we are really scared to step out on a stage if we fear public speaking. It’s our job to say “hey brain – I’m freaking out right now, but I’m not going to actually die, so please take it down a notch.” 

Take deep breaths. Step into the fear so you can walk through it (there’s no shortcut around it). Don't expect it be comfortable right now. It won't be! So there's no surprise there. But over time, it will get easier, I promise.

Expand your social circle. Ask women on dates.  It will be so worth it if you do! I know you can do this. Baby steps. xo