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One traditional area of dating that is showing signs of change involves the role of physical appearance.
James Curran, associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University, reports that dating anxiety was the leading reason why students he studied at the University of Indiana sought counseling.
Counting the number of times a person smiles during a date is less meaningful than whether he smiles at appropriate times. Arkowitz acknowledges that studies of infrequent daters do not address such concerns as sexuality and intimacy, although problems in those areas may contribute to dating difficulties.
He maintains that sexuality and intimacy become far more relevant as issues in advanced stages of dating.
They don't know what to say or do, how to initiate or maintain a conversation, how to plan what to do on a date, and so on. Arkowitz once overheard a young man start telling a young woman about his hernia operation within minutes of meeting. Arkowitz has run treatment programs that include role playing, reading dating manuals, coaching, and practice dating assignments.
Even when skills are not the problem, instruction and practice serve to lessen anxiety.
Men have significantly more anxiety about dating than do women, the researchers agree. Arkowitz found 37 percent of men surveyed were anxious as compared to 25 percent of the women.