How To Not Freak Out About A First Date

by Candice Jalili

Before a first date, I used to find myself fighting back this overwhelming desire to puke my brains out. No, I didn't have some sort of weird stomach condition (OK, if we're being technical, I actually am lactose intolerant, but that's beside the point here). First dates just made me ridiculously nervous.

And I know I'm not the only one. First dates can be scary. You are about to be trapped with this virtual stranger with no option but to get to know each other. And, ugh, don't even get me started on the possibility that he's the love of your life, which bring about excited texts from your friends and hours spent deciding on outfits and drafting even more texts.

But then, on the flip side, there's the possibility that he's a murderer or a rapist or both, which, you know, is also pretty nerve-wracking. Oh, and then there's probably the worst outcome of all: He's just an eh-whatever-average guy who you have no desire to see again, aka a total and complete waste of your time.

As you can tell, I'm a bit of an overthinker. And first dates are no exception.

But at this point in my life, I have finally gone on enough first dates where the thought of them doesn't quite make me want to puke my brains out. Luckily, I haven't ended up with any rapists or murderers. But I've had my fair share of eh-whatever-average guys whom I could easily live the rest of my life without ever seeing again. I've even had the few-and-far-between magical first date that felt like it really could be the real deal. As a result, I think I've developed some ways to stop being such a nervous wreck before your first date.

So, next time you're about to lose your mind over a first date with John from Tinder or Alex from Whatever Bar, read these tips and chill the f*ck out.

First, remember you are not getting married.

My friend called me the other night FREAKING OUT about a date she was about to go on. She had just gotten out of a serious relationship, and this was her first real post-breakup date. So, we have obviously got to throw her a bone here.

But what was her main concern? Well, she explained to me that this guy had invited her out to dinner, and she just was not sure that she was ready to jump back into another relationship so soon after her breakup.

I couldn't help but burst into laughter. Jump back into another RELATIONSHIP? Let's pump the brakes here. It's just a first date. And, let me tell you, a first date is no signifier of an impending relationship.

You have got to remember that this is JUST A FIRST DATE. It means nothing. It is not a marriage. You could easily walk out of drinks or dinner or mini golf and never speak to the person ever again.

First dates are like that campus tour of college you do with your parents before you even decide where you're going to apply. They involve absolutely no commitment on your part. You're just checking out the campus to see if you think it would be a good fit for you.

Then, remember you don't owe this person anything.

This summer, my friend told me a story about a time she left a date after ten minutes. Apparently, this guy was painful to be around, so she just ... left.

I mean, she said bye. She's not a monster. She just said: “I'm not feeling this. I think I'm just not going to waste time for either of us and leave right now.”

I remember being appalled when she told me this story. How could she just LEAVE this guy sitting there at the bar all by himself like a pathetic loser? But she calmly explained to me: “Why would I stick around for painful conversation with a guy who was kind of a prick? It was just a first date with a virtual stranger. I don't owe him my time.”

And there it was. She was right! You literally owe the person you are on a first date with nothing. Of course, common decency requires you to be a nice, well-mannered human being. But if you want to leave, YOU CAN LEAVE. If you don't want to kiss him at the end of the night, YOU DON'T HAVE TO KISS HIM. If you don't want to say yes to a second date, YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YES.

You are a free individual being! Do you!

Finally, take a second to put things into perspective.

Promise me that you'll always agree to meet this guy at a public location and that you'll share your location with at least one friend.

Now that we've got your physical safety out of the way ... what are you afraid of? Really think about it. Out of all the dates you go on, first dates are probably the lowest stakes. You still owe the person nothing. You still reserve the right to never talk to them again. And, as I've mentioned earlier, you don't have to marry him. It's just an hour of possibly free drinks where you get to talk about yourself and meet someone new.

Worst case scenario, he's a weirdo and you get a funny story for your friends. Best case scenario, you guys hit it off and you keep getting to know him. That's it. Now, please take a deep breath.