The first date jitters are so real, fam — and it's not surprising in the least. With popular expressions like "First impressions are everything," and "You only get one chance to make a first impression," it can feel like there's an overwhelming amount of pressure to be on your A-game. It's only natural to want to wow your crush (and potentially land a second date if things go well), but stressing out about it certainly won't help your cause. If you put too much pressure on first dates, you may want to focus on trying to take it down a notch. That way, you're more likely to be yourself — oh, and actually have fun, too.
“Worrying about what might go wrong on the date and doesn’t allow someone to put their best self forward and go in confidently," Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, tells Elite Daily.
It makes sense when you think about it. How can you possibly be confident or comfortable if you're laser-focused on doing everything perfectly from start to finish? Fortunately, Sullivan has a slew of potentially helpful strategies that can eliminate some of that perceived pressure — like having one glass of wine while you're getting ready (or popping a CBD gummy if that eases your anxiety better). That's right, you have an expert's permission to relax). So, before your next first date, try one of these expert-approved tactics to avoid getting flustered.
Find an outlet for your nervous energy.
When it feels like your first date jitters just keep building, it's a good idea to find a way to release that nervous energy rather than bottling it up. One phenomenal way do this, according to Sullivan, is engaging in physical activity.
"It will not only help you relax, but it will also get your endorphins flowing creating a sense of confidence and happiness," she explains.
If you don't have time to hit the gym before you start getting ready, don't worry. Even just doing a short Vinyasa yoga flow or dancing around your apartment to a couple of songs should do the trick. The idea is simply to get your blood pumping — and when you come down from that endorphin rush and your heart rate returns to normal, you'll probably feel a whole lot calmer.
Keep yourself distracted before the date.
When you're feeling a lot of pressure regarding a first date, it can make it nearly impossible to make a decision or be present whatsoever. You change your outfit six times, you text your bestie a few morbid emojis (skull and crossbones or screaming face FTW), and you start stressing about all the ways your date could be sabotaged. But the more you obsess about making a good first impression, the harder it will be for you to do so.
"Keeping yourself distracted before a date is a good way to help first date jitters because you won’t be overthinking everything that can go wrong," says Sullivan.
Her go-to distraction is blasting some feel-good music, but there are countless other possibilities. For you, it could be watching a hilarious episode of The Office or listening to a thought-provoking podcast. it's all about finding what works for you in terms of getting your mind off your date.
Mentally put your date in the friend zone.
Here's a unique strategy to try. Rather than going into your date with the mindset that this person could be "The One," approach it like they're just a friend.
"Telling yourself that you are just meeting up with a friend is a lot less nerve-wracking than meeting a potential romantic interest for the first time," explains Sullivan. "By friend-zoning them for the first date, it might help to reduce your anxiety and lower your fear of rejection."
The stakes are a lot lower when you're just hanging with a potential friend. So, don't be afraid to adopt this mindset — that is, until the sparks start flying and they move in for a much-desired goodnight kiss.
Inhale and exhale — it sounds so simple, right? But don't underestimate the power of focusing on your breath. It's one of the fundamental elements of meditation because it forces you to refocus on the present moment, and tune into your self-awareness, rather than giving into anxious thoughts about the future.
"When in doubt, breathe it out," says Sullivan. "It will help to relax your body and ease your mind. Breathe in calm, happy thoughts, and breathe out any tension and worry."
If you don't have a lot of experience meditating, consider using an app like InsightTimer and taking advantage of a short guided session. You can do a quick mindful breathing meditation before or after you start getting ready for your date, or even in the backseat of your Lyft or Uber on the way there. Regardless of where and when you do it, make sure you're comfortable. And if any anxious thoughts pop up, try to accept them and let them go rather than trying to push them away.
Maria Sullivan, dating expert