Singles' 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions—And Answers:

Fear is an unbelievably common problem for singles. There are many reasons singles have for avoiding dating or even getting started. Little is more terrifying than risking our most vulnerable selves to a new person. And the older we get, the scarier it can be, what with a lifetime of bumps and bruises, both physical and emotional. Past hurts, an aging body, and perhaps years since you dated successfully—if you ever did – really get in the way.

Mastering three skills will help you get going: 1. Setting an attractive goal, 2. Slicing and dicing the process, and 3. Learning some anxiety management techniques.

1. Setting an attractive goal If you were going to go on a trip, you would know your destination before you left home. How can you know where you are going to end up if you don’t decide before you get started? Get as clear as you can about the kind of relationship you are looking for and the ideal person to fill the role of partner. Think about the life that you want in five or ten years with that mate. What does it look like? Where do you live? What are your days like? The realer you can make it, the better. Then write a paragraph or two, describing in minute details, where you want your mate search to end up.

2. Slicing and dicing the process Then, start chopping up the tasks you need to do to get going into small enough pieces so that you can actually do a task right now, right away. Maybe it only takes a minute or two to accomplish that task and you can do it without really thinking about it. Maybe it takes five or ten minutes, but it is something you can tuck into your day without too much difficulty—or anxiety. However small you need to chop the tasks to get them to a size that you can actually take on and accomplish: who cares? Whatever it takes. Even a millimeter will get you started. Enough millimeters stacked up will eventually get you where you want to go.

3. Learning some anxiety management techniques Last, you need to develop some skills to handle your anxiety and fear. Start with monitoring your anxiety level using a 0 to 10 scale, 0 being absolutely relaxed and calm, and 10 being total panic. Rate yourself now, right now.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.