I don’t care how many first dates you've been on — first-date nerves can hit anyone at any time. This is especially true if you're super attracted to the person you’re meeting or it’s been a while since you were on the dating scene. If you’ve had pre-date jitters before (or you’re experiencing them right now!), take a deep breath. The good news is that you’re not alone and there are several effective ways to turn your mood around.
“It is completely normal to feel nervous before a first date, and some degree of nerves is actually a good sign, because that means it's something that matters to you and it's a person you might have the potential to care about and connect with,” Lauren Freier, a Chicago-based psychotherapist, tells Elite Daily. “If the stakes were so low that you have no nerves at all, you probably wouldn't be interested in going on the date in the first place. [However,] if your nerves are getting in the way of putting your best self forward, you can absolutely work through that anxiety with helpful tools and support,” says Freier.
Ready to feel more relaxed? Here are some strategies to remind you how to not be nervous for a date.
1. Claim The Home-Field Advantage
One of the best ways to keep your cool starts right when you begin planning the date. Don’t be afraid to claim home-field advantage by suggesting you go somewhere you already feel comfortable, like a favorite restaurant or bar. “Uncertainty is highly anxiety-provoking, and when you have no idea what to expect with the person you're about to meet, it can be helpful to establish some control over your surroundings,” says Freier. “I often hear of people going to the location a bit early to get acclimated, or even deciding on a familiar neighborhood.” Picking a place you love can help set a calming foundation from the get-go.
2. Give Yourself A Buffer Before Your Date
“You should not be going from the office to the date venue, because we sometimes keep our work persona on, and the date can easily turn into an interview,” says Maria Avgitidis, CEO of matchmaking service Agape Match and host of the dating podcast Ask A Matchmaker. She notes this is especially true for first dates; hopefully, on the second date and beyond, you’ll feel more at ease. “If you don’t have the option of going home, head on over to a café and drink a chai, or go to the park for 20 minutes.”
3. Stay Busy Before The Date
One of the best ways to keep anxiety at bay is to keep your mind occupied, says Rachel Federoff, celebrity matchmaker at LoveAndMatchmaking. Otherwise, you’re simply stuck at home, frantically Googling how to not be nervous on a date. “When we are idle our minds tend to go to dark places, and that’s never good for first date jitters," she says. "Just don’t do too much [activity] that when the date comes, you’re exhausted." Instead of dwelling on your pre-date anxiety, spend time picking something to wear, or better yet, have a friend come by to boost your confidence by pumping you up and helping you get ready.
4. Hit The Gym For A Pre-Date Workout
Federoff says there’s nothing like some good old endorphins to turn jitters into confidence. “Going to the gym before your date can be a great way to work out those nerves [and] sweat out the fear. Just make sure you do it early so you have plenty of time to shower and look your best,” Federoff tells Elite Daily. It also doesn't hurt that after a great workout, you'll probably feel relaxed and powerful, which is exactly how you want to feel on your date.
5. Treat Yourself To Some Self-Love
Yep, we’re going there. Avgitidis recommends masturbation as a tool to soothe yourself before a date. A solid DIY session causes your body to produce endorphins, which lift your mood, and dopamine, which reduce stress. Orgasms don’t just make you feel physically amazing — they also have serious mental benefits.
6. Enjoy One Glass Of Wine
Pop that cork, but take it easy. “A glass of wine can be OK, just make sure it’s one glass because there’s [likely] to be more on the date,” says Federoff. “Drinks are fine, just keep it to a minimum." (That said, if you don’t drink or know you have a pretty low alcohol tolerance, maybe skip this one.)
7. Play Some Hype Music
Want Lizzo-level confidence on your date? Play some of her music to hype you up beforehand, says Freier. “I am such a fan of a good pump-up jam to get you in the zone. Choose songs that help you feel energized, confident, empowered, and most you!” she suggests. Put on the music and turn it up.
8. Take A Deep Breath
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for three seconds. Repeat this three or four times and feel the stress start to melt away. If you particularly enjoy this technique, keep the good vibes going with a pre-date meditation. “The research being done about meditation has shown how effective meditation can be for reducing anxiety," says Meredith Futernick, licensed mental health counselor and founder of LGBTQCouplesTherapy.com. "Using techniques to bring yourself and your thoughts to the present moment before a date can help you to avoid playing out a storyline about the date — that may or may not even happen!”
9. Practice Positivity
This is way easier said than done, I know. But giving yourself a pep talk might be the fastest way to boost yourself up. “Mantras, positive affirmations, compassionate self-talk, you name it! These help challenge some of those pesky anxiety-ridden or self-critical thoughts that creep their way in at the most undesirable moments,” suggests Freier.
10. Think Of Your Date As A New Friend You’re Meeting Up With
That hottie you’re about to meet up with? For tonight, they go in the friend zone. “Cognitive restructuring is a great way to lower anxiety,” Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, and host of the Marriage Steps Podcast, tells Elite Daily. Half of the anxiety you’re feeling is self-induced pressure, and the other half is fear of rejection. When you’re spending time with a friend, there’s none of that nonsense. So, decide this is a friend date and let all that that anxiety, fear, and pressure go.
11. Remind Yourself They're Probably Nervous, Too
I mean, of course they are. They’re going out with you. Being empathetic and remembering you're both in this together can help make the date a heck of a lot less scary. “A first date is a two-way street. You are interviewing each other, so perhaps you are both nervous!" Emmy Crouter, a psychotherapist at Emboldened Counseling, tells Elite Daily. “Remind yourself, too, that you really have no idea what someone else is thinking or feeling unless they honestly report it to you," she suggests. "If you struggle with making assumptions, reframe this as 'mind-reading.' Do you really have that skill? Nope.”
12. Choose Not To Be Invested In The Outcome
Here’s the worst-case scenario: You don’t go out with them again. That’s it. If you’re freaked out about the outcome of the date and you're worried it’s not going to work out, you might be putting way too much emotional labor into what is really just a meet-and-greet. “Remember, you are seeing if this person is a good fit for you, just as much as they are seeing if you are a good fit for them,” says Crouter. “When you set down your expectations and hopes for the future and are just present, you might find that’s when you're the most receptive to a great person.” In other words, instead of worrying about the “what’s next” of it all, just try and be in the moment and enjoy it for what it is.
You got this. Have an amazing — and hopefully stress-free — night!
Lauren Freier, a Chicago-based psychotherapist
Rachel Federoff, celebrity matchmaker at LoveAndMatchmaking
Meredith Futernick, licensed mental health counselor and founder of LGBTQCouplesTherapy.com
Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, and host of the Marriage Steps Podcast
Emmy Crouter, a psychotherapist at Emboldened Counseling
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