Some people change their outfit three times. Others down a glass of wine before heading out the door and anxiously text their bestie for a confidence boost on the Uber ride over. No matter how self-assured a person or how well things seem to be going with their current crush, going on a first, second or even third date can be nerve-wracking — and for some, it can be particularly hard to hide those jitters. Luckily, there are certain signs your date is nervous around you that can clue you into their feelings.
There are many reasons why your date may feel nervous around you — it could be that they struggle with social anxiety in general, they haven't gone on any dates in a long time, or they just can't get a read on whether you're into them. Regardless, according to experts, it's not necessarily a negative thing — in fact, it can be a good sign.
"Fearless first dates don’t exist," says Fran Greene, LCSWR, dating coach, and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting. "Actually, being a little nervous can work to a person's advantage because it can put their date at ease. It demonstrates that they're not afraid to be vulnerable."
Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder of A Little Nudge, adds that how nervous your date is around you may even correlate to how much they like you. The more invested they are in this connection, the higher the stakes may feel to make a good impression.
With all of that in mind, keep a lookout for these subtle signs that your date is a little on edge around you.
Does it seem like your date just can't sit still? According to Greene, this is a super common sign of nerves.
"We tend to mitigate the feelings of anxiety by readjusting and moving our bodies," she explains, "It provides comfort."
Greene notes that your date may be totally unaware that they keep changing their positioning, too, since this is often an automatic response to stress.
Some people resort to repeating a particular gesture or habit over and over when they're nervous. Greene says a few examples may include constant throat clearing, repetitive lip biting, or frequent blinking. Another common sign of nervousness is if your date is incessantly shaking their leg — although this can also indicate restless leg syndrome, which isn't related to anxiety.
Woos tells Elite Daily that when people are nervous in social situations, they often use certain "preening motions" to make themselves feel more prepared for an interaction. A few examples of this include if your date rubs their hair, smooths out the wrinkles on their pants, adjusts their belt or watch, or tucks in their shirt.
"These self-touch motions offer comfort," adds Wood.
Having your date chuckle at your jokes can obviously give you a major boost, but if they're LOL'ing at basically everything you say, Greene claims that could suggest they're just nervous. Everyone has their own unique response to nerves, and for some, it can trigger them to laugh.
Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran proposed that for some, nervous laughter is a way of reassuring themselves that whatever’s making them uncomfortable is NBD. He believed that essentially, it's a cognitive defense mechanism for lowering anxiety. You know the old saying "fake it till you make it?" It's almost like the person who's nervously laughing is subconsciously trying to convince themselves that there's nothing to worry about.
It may seem a little sus if your date keeps getting up to go to the bathroom — but according to Greene, this may hint at the fact that they're nervous. For one, some people find that they need to move around when they've got some jitters, and a bathroom trip gives them an excuse to do just that. Not only that, but when the body goes into fight or flight mode, it triggers an adrenaline response, which can speed up the kidneys' production of urine. That explains why you might suddenly have the urge to pee when you're in a stressful or anxiety-inducing situation.
When your date closes off their "body windows" — such as by crossing their feet or knees, hiding the palms of their hand, of covering their pelvis, Wood says there's a good chance they're nervous around you. Closing off these windows indicates an effort to protect oneself, which may mean that they feel apprehensive or uncomfortable.
"The mouth is the window to the truth so covering our mouth is quite symbolic," she adds. "We can cover our mouth when we do not want someone to know we’re nervous or if we’re suppressing a negative thought. We put our hands over our mouths so the truth of our feeling won’t come out."
Fun fact: According to Wood, the nerve endings around your face tend to fire when you feel stressed, thus causing an itching sensation. So, if your date appears to be touching or rubbing their nose, eyes, or ears during the date, that could mean that they're dealing with some major nerves.
If it seems like your date's eyes are never quite locked on yours, that may signal that they're feeling some jitters. Greene says that avoiding eye contact is a common sign of nervousness, and it makes sense, too: gazing into someone's peepers can feel vulnerable AF.
Unless your date is just a people-pleaser by nature, Greene points out that agreeing with you on every single thing could mean they're nervous around you. She recommends taking note if your date keeps saying things like, "Whatever you want is fine with me," "It doesn’t matter to me," and "I’m OK either way," as some people are prone to suppressing their own needs and wants when they feel nervous around their date and want to win them over.
"We tend to be on our best behavior because we are fearful if we disagree with our date, there is no chance there will be a next one," she explains. "Quite the contrary, being who you are and having your own opinions is what makes you attractive and interesting."
If you've picked up on any of these signs, Greene says that one of the best ways to break the tension is to simply talk about it. You might say something like, "I was actually feeling a little nervous before meeting up tonight. What about you?" Your date will probably feel so relieved to know you can relate, and talking it will allow you to both laugh it off rather than suffering in silence.
"Sharing your anxious feelings can have a paradoxical effect on your date," explains Greene. "It might be the best medicine to calm their jitters."
Additionally, you may want to give your date another shot if it seemed like they were a big ball of anxiety — because it's hard to show off your genuine self and put your best foot forward when nerves get in the way.
"It wouldn't hurt to go out again just to see if there's a new level of comfort on date number two," adds Ettin.
According to Greene, the best thing you can do to calm your date's nerves is to be kind. Demonstrate that they're safe around you by showing your interest in them, and reassuring them if you're feeling the same way. Above all, remember that your date probably wouldn't be nervous if they didn't care about impressing you — so you can go ahead and consider it a major compliment.
Erika Ettin, dating coach
Patti Wood, body language expert
Fran Greene, dating coach