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Modern dating is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Because of the pleasant and unpleasant surprises that come with finding a good mate, a lot of people view the process as stressful. According to research, it’s not all in your head. Dating requires taking a leap of faith, and that leap expectedly comes with a lot of “WTF.”

Luckily, science and experts give us some advice on what is causing the stress and how to cope with that foreboding feeling.

“Erroneous expectations create all the havoc in dating,” certified relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. Sedacca believes our long “must-have” list often leads to disappointment. Dating rarely looks how you think it would look, and it damn sure doesn’t look like the movies. So show up with standards, but keep in mind, he or she may not be making six-figures with a corporate job and a Master’s with a side of romantic.

To make matters worse, you have to enter this dead zone of expectations with an open heart.

“In order to really see if we like someone else, we have to be vulnerable,” says life coach Kali Rogers. “They need to be able to see our authentic selves, and not everyone will like it.”

And, in general, it’s hard for us to cope with not being liked.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula explains that dates can feel like a series of on-the-spot interviews. “[Dating feels] like judgment, like we always have to be ‘on,’ the chronic fear of rejection always looming — it’s like going on a very personal job interview every day,” she describes.

And, of course, everyone is competing to land that dream job. Now, on the other side of one good interview, lies uncertainty. Hovering between that space of “OMG, I could spend my life with this person” and “they could totally reject me” is anxiety city, and psychologist Nicole Martinez explains intuition is the best way to navigate this feeling.

“People need to learn to trust themselves, or at least their ability to make things right if something goes wrong, and to be able to communicate their way through their issues or misunderstandings,” Martinez tells Bustle.

Along with trusting yourself comes trusting the fact that you are worthy  — no diving into the “I’ll always be alone” mental cycles, beauties.

“When you worry the entire time on whether or not your date likes you, that energy turns into a desperate “please like me!” instead of “I’m a great gal, so enjoy this evening with me! relationship cope psychic Melinda Carver says.

Clearly, the vibes of the first mindset are a lot more attractive to potential mates. Then, if you do happen to strike a match, actually managing the relationship from “I don’t know you” to “I love you” is not always clear either.

“There are no rules anymore,” psychologist Salama Marine says. “Just because you set up a date, it doesn’t mean that it will happen — you can cancel it with a simple text. And just because you met someone and had an amazing time, it doesn’t mean that the dating story will continue.”

The common thread through all of these stresses — uncertainty. But everyone likes to talk about the stress of uncertainty without acknowledging the excitement, sexiness, and thrill of it all. Once you’re in a relationship, you will have to work for butterflies, so try to ride the wave with optimism and confidence, and dating can be enjoyable.



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