When you think about your first date must-haves, what comes to mind? Perhaps a red lip stain, your signature scent, a pack of mints, and that jacket that makes you feel like a bad*ss? The reason why you reach for these items is that they give you confidence — that elusive thing that allows you to be completely comfortable in your own skin. At some point or another, you may have wondered how to boost your confidence before a first date. And when it comes down to it, experts say that the routines you adopt in preparation for the date can be a lot more powerful in this regard than what makeup you have on, or what shoes you’re wearing. (Although, if those platform patent sneakers help you to stand a little taller, you have my full permission to rock them.)
Let’s get one thing straight: It’s natural to feel nervous before a first date. And guess what? It’s also possible to be confident and have some pre-date jitters at the same time. It all comes down to whether you let your nerves get the best of you and compromise your ability to be your authentic self. If you take the time to up your confidence beforehand, you can manage those nerves a lot more effectively. And that confidence will definitely come across. According to Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, it may even make you more attractive in your date’s eyes, thus helping you to snag a second date. And isn’t that the ultimate goal, assuming you have a good time?
“Confidence allows you to put your best self forward without taking yourself or the date too seriously,” explains Transformational Coach Thomas Edwards. “That last part is key as you’ll end up being looser and creating a fun experience for you and your date.”
Sound good? There are lots of simple ways to ramp up your self-confidence before a first date, and what works for someone else may not be as effective for you, so it's all about trial and error until you find which tactics make a difference.
According to Trombetti, playing a part in picking where and when you meet up and what you do on your date may help you to feel more at ease, and thus, more confident. So, don't be afraid to suggest a particular bar or restaurant where you know you feel at home, or proposing a particular activity that allows you to show off your skills (like bowling, mini-golf, or a cooking class).
"You will shine brightly when it's an activity that excites and interests you," adds Trombetti. "It might even take the pressure off your date because they won't be guessing what you like."
Once it comes time to get ready for the date, Edwards recommends pumping some jams.
"Playing music, especially your favorites will instantly put you in a great mood going into the date," he explains.
Not sure which tunes to add to your pre-date playlist? A 2014 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science, which explored how subjects felt before and after listening to clips in a variety of genres, found that music with heavy bass made listeners feel more powerful than those with low bass levels. A few bass-heavy songs that would fit the bill are "bad guy" by Billie Eilish, "Get Ur Freak On" by Missy Elliott, "Boys" by Lizzo, and "Feelin' Myself" by will.i.am (featuring Miley Cyrus).
While you're cranking those tunes, let loose and dance around your bedroom — apparently, Edwards says a workout can also help to help to boost your confidence as well.
"You don’t need to get a full sweat on if you don’t have the time beforehand, but anything that can get your blood pumping will make you feel better about yourself," he adds.
Also, don't underestimate the power of laughter, which Edwards claims can actually override nervousness. Watch a segment of a funny movie or a few YouTube clips, and you'll not only be able to take your mind off the date but also hopefully relax a bit.
Another strategy that can help, according to Trombetti, is reading up on a few news stories or other topics that you can keep in your back pocket, so you never run out of things to discuss on the date. You may not even need these conversation starters, but knowing that you have something engaging to bring up may ease your jitters a bit.
If you can, Edwards advises getting to the date location a few minutes early so that you have time to settle into the environment. This can be especially important if you've never been there before.
"The comfort you create by familiarizing yourself with the scene will give you confidence," Edwards explains.
While all of these tricks can certainly help you to up your self-confidence, Trombetti notes that it's OK if you try them, and you're still feeling slightly nervous before your first date.
"It makes you human," she explains. "So, feel free to acknowledge it to your date. If you can put yourself in your date's shoes, you will see that they probably feel the same way."
So, the more you're able to embrace those natural hitters rather than try to suppress them, the less power they'll have over you. Remember — confidence stems from total acceptance and appreciation of everything you bring to the table, and if that includes a little nervousness, then so be it.
Hsu, Y.-W., Huang, L., Nordgren, L. F., & Rucker, D. D. (2014). The Music of Power: Perceptual and Behavioral Consequences of Powerful Music. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2014(1), 14432. doi: 10.5465/ambpp.2014.14432abstract
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker
Thomas Edwards, transformational coach