Meeting a new romantic interest for the first time can rattle even the most self-assured people around. Whether your last date was a few days, weeks, or months ago, putting yourself out there can definitely result in some serious jitters. Take note of the following tips that will help first date nerves so you can relax and enjoy the moment. After all, life is too short to spend another second stuck in your head when you could be focused on getting to know your date. According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, feeling nervous on a first date is completely normal.
"Dating presents some unique social stressors that lead to nervousness," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "Being evaluated for attractiveness and likeability by another person, having to show our best self, being aware of our flaws that might get exposed, in addition to many other variables can be tough to manage. All of these create many unknowns that are all socially and psychologically tied." Juggling so many different worries while also feeling genuinely excited to make a connection can be a lot to process all at once. Here are some ways you can keep your nerves in check and put your best foot forward during your first IRL interaction.
1. Acknowledge How You're Feeling, Instead Of Suppressing It.
Although it may be tempting to avoid grappling with your nerves head-on, trying to dodge your true emotions might not be the most effective approach. If you're feeling antsy, Dr. Klapow recommends acknowledging your nerves to both yourself and your date. "Very often the act of trying to hide you're nervous will make you more nervous," explains Dr. Klapow. "Letting your date know doesn’t ruin anything. You'll likely feel relieved a bit knowing that they know how you feel."
2. Don't Forget To Breathe.
It might sound simple, but taking the time to stabilize yourself through deep breathing is an easy pre-date ritual that can help bring down your stress levels. "As we get nervous we often forget to take deep calming breaths," says Dr. Klapow. "Before the date, as you're getting ready, breathe slowly and deeply to keep your physiological response tempered." This technique can also be used during a bathroom break to reconnect and center yourself if you're still feeling butterflies.
3. Give Yourself Plenty Of Prep And Travel Time.
There's nothing like trying to cope with a serious case of the jitters, only to encounter even more stress when you realize you're running late. That's why setting aside some extra time is never a bad idea. "Allow yourself plenty of time for everything," urges Dr. Klapow. "The more pressure you put on yourself to get ready, to arrive on time, and to find the location, the more you compound the stress of the first date with logistical stressors." Instead of spinning into a frenzy, give yourself an extra hour of cushion time. Worst-case scenario, you're ready super early and have some extra time to relax before you meet.
4. Realize That They're Probably Feeling Nervous Too.
Ultimately, nerves are a part of dating that need to be accepted before they can be adequately managed. Shifting your perspective and putting yourself in your date's shoes is another great way to take some of the pressure off. "Remind yourself that if you're nervous, they're likely nervous too, and nerves are part of the excitement and anticipation of a first date," says Dr. Klapow. "You can’t completely get rid of them, but they will diminish as the date goes on."
If you're new to the dating pool, navigating the stress associated with first dates can be overwhelming. However, the more you can let go of your fears and put the emphasis on actively engaging with your date, the better. It can also be helpful to reframe the situation and focus on the excitement instead of the doubt. Although this doesn't mean the physical sensation will completely go away, actively reframing the situation in a positive way can have a big impact on your ability to stay present in the moment.
In the end, so much of dating is a gamble. Risking embarrassment or rejection is rarely easy, but the personal growth that comes from putting yourself out there is so worth it. And when you meet the right person, you'll be so glad you put in the time and effort to work through the process.
Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist