First date nerves are right up there with job interviews. I’ve had my fair share of first dates (for blog purposes, of course). I’d love to say it naturally gets easier; that the fifth man you meet from Hinge won’t cause you to over apply perfume and lipstick. But there are tips you can learn on how to stay calm.
What causes first date nerves?
Sex blogger and relationship advisor, Tatyana Dyachenko, says, ‘the nerve feelings arise due to shyness, social anxiety, and fear of rejection. The common trigger of anxiety and nervousness is the pressure of meeting your date’s expectations. All people like to love and have a successful date; the idea that the date can fail to meet your or the other partner’s expectations will stir up anxiousness.’
It’s so frustrating when you connect with someone, get excited about meeting and then realise you’re not compatible. Made all the worse when you’ve made the effort to dress up.
I suggest meeting with friends either before or after a date. That way, if things don’t go to plan, it’s not such a wasted evening.
Preparing for your first date when feeling anxious
When me and my boyfriend had our first date, it was more a reunion than a first encounter – we both attended the same high school.
I had no idea what to expect, but I decided I wasn’t going to spend the day over worrying. I sat outside in the sunshine working, making sure my phone was at a distance. Because I kept myself so distracted, I only had a small window to panic which stopped me from analysing like some psychologist researcher.
Tatyana shares these tips on how to prepare beforehand:
- ‘Plan your date in a location that makes you feel safe and comfortable.
- Identify your anxious and nervous habits.
- Distract your thoughts with mindful practices.
- Get support from a friend who has been through the same to get more tips on how to handle yourself.
- Prepare and pamper yourself; for instance, you can visit a spa with friends.’
From my experience, the most important prep you can do before a date is to find time to focus on self-care. Whether that’s meditation, a workout, a smoothie, a diary entry. Writing down your biggest accomplishments and going through your goals can remind you of your value.
A friend, ‘Lisa’ rang me up while she was getting ready to meet a guy from a dating app. When I told her to relax and have fun, she started mentioning her insecurities.
You want to make sure you’re in a positive mindset before going – get glammed up, write down your attributes and if you’re struggling, ring a great friend for a mini pep talk.
How to disguise nervousness during a date
You might be tempted to ‘fake it till you make it’ but this just adds more pressure. As Tatyana says, ‘be realistic in what you say and own your nervousness or anxiety by letting your partner know how you feel.’
Tatyana also believes you should ‘be soft on yourself and laugh at the embarrassing moments.’
As painful as awkward silences are, they’re pretty much inevitable. Sometimes it’s good to let them happen and wait for the next moment of conversation, rather than trying to quickly fill the gaps.
If silence does worry you, Tatyana advises to ‘base conversation on your date rather than you’ – you can write a list of things you want to talk about as part of your date prep.
When we’re passionate about something, we naturally lighten up. Our smiles go wider, we might giggle and use our hands more to express ourselves. Think about what type of conversation will create that energy in you.
Confidence tips for women who haven’t been in the dating game for a while
Regardless of how confident you are, we can all feel first date nerves. Especially if you haven’t been in the dating game for a good minute.
Tatyana shares these tips to help improve your dating confidence:
- ‘Lower your expectations and focus on having fun during the date.
- Wear clothes you feel comfortable in that enhance your beauty looks.
- Love yourself first and know your value. This helps you avoid comments that may provoke you.
- Open the talk or take the first step to discuss issues you would like to hear.’
To become more comfortable talking about yourself with a date, consider going out with a friend specifically to talk to strangers in a bar or other social setting.
If there’s one person creating your first date nerves, you might find it useful to arrange a video chat and a phone call before meeting. This can help lead the conversation on your first date.
Let’s say you discussed weekend plans on a call, you can then ask how they turned out.
Overall tips for first date nerves
Match up your fears with reality. I used to worry about not being able to hold good conversation. But when I analysed this fear, I realised it made no sense. I’ve never in my life sat with someone for 5 minutes in silence due to a lack of conversational focus. If awkward silences occur, it’s usually a funny thing to laugh at after, and conversation is a two-way street.
If you’re feeling insecure, try asking your date what it is about you or your online profile that attracted them or made you stand out. Be careful how you word this – you don’t want it to sound as though you’re fishing for compliments or needing confirmation. A casual, ‘What made my profile stand out?’ is enough.
Pay attention to your self-talk. Most of us are incredibly complimentary of others and extremely critical of ourselves. If you’re someone who has a dialogue of negative self-thoughts running through your mind all day, it’s no surprise you’re feeling nervous.
‘I don’t work out enough. I need to lose weight.’
‘My life is so boring. I don’t have any hobbies.’
‘I have such bad luck with dating. This person will probably reject/ghost me’.
Change this conversation. If a bad thought, comes into my head (let’s say I’m feeling insecure about my blog) I instantly challenge it. This takes time and practice but if you continue to pay attention to negative self-talk, you can begin to eliminate it. Which means, feeling more confident and not having as much first date nerves.
Do not people please. A date is an opportunity for two people to see if they click – your attention shouldn’t be on worrying whether someone will like you. Remind yourself that whatever happens, you’re going out to have fun and find out more about someone. You’re not there to be liked or to receive approval.
Tatyana Dyachenko is a sex blogger and relationship advisor at Dimepiece LA.
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