First dates can be incredibly nerve-wracking, whether you like meeting new people or not. Even though a lot of first dates kind of have the same structure (so you usually know what to expect), it can still be a pretty anxiety-provoking experience. If you, like me, get anxious about a first date, try these strategies to make your next first date less stressful and more enjoyable.
I don't know about you, but I'm constantly going back and forth on my feelings about first dates. Sometimes, I really like the idea of a first date because I can get to know someone who could become a huge part of my life. Other times, the thought of going on a first date makes me want to run as far in the opposite direction as possible. If you're right there with me and ready to sign up as my running partner, fear not. There are solutions!
I spoke to three experts for their recommendations on what to do when first date anxiety strikes. The one thing they all mentioned is to remember that the other person is probably just as nervous as you, so you're definitely not alone. "Fearless first dates don’t exist," Fran Greene, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, tells Elite Daily. "They don’t exist. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, everyone is a little bit nervous."
Whether you're cool, calm, and collected, or more nervous than the first day of school, keep these strategies in mind if you get the pre-date jitters.
Because first dates can make both people nervous, "a good way to help each other is to have a quick phone chat before you meet," Preece says. "That way you will have already spoken, and it will feel like you've had a mini first date." Who knew something as simple as a quick phone call could make a difference?
Humans tend to be creatures of habit, and because of that, going to the same place, having the same foods, and sitting in the same spots help us feel more at ease. "It helps to go to the same place each time (with new people) so you feel more comfortable and have control over where you sit," Preece says. "Sit in a place that makes them focus on you rather than doorways, windows or other distractions." Because you're the best view, obviously.
Not only is going on a first date nerve-wracking, but in some situations, because catfishing is, unfortunately, a very real thing, "it's always good to pick a place that is in the open and that has other people around," Tyler Turk, CEO and founder of Crated With Love, tells Elite Daily. "This can help create a more comfortable and safe scenario for you," just in case.
Laughter has a funny way of bringing people together. It's one of those things you can immediately bond with someone over. "Genuinely laughing with someone else can build trust, help to break down walls and create a more comfortable environment," Turk says. "And, if you both are laughing at the same thing, you're creating rapport and shared experiences. When planning a first date, look for ideas that have the opportunity for a lot of laughter. Don't be afraid to be goofy with each other!"
Even though first dates can often seem like the most important thing in the world in that moment, Greene, kindly reminds us that, "It’s just a date. It’s not an audition for marriage, and it’s not a job interview, and it’s not about how the rest of your life is going to turn out. It’s only a date." If the two of you click, that's amazing. If you don't, that's OK, there will be other first dates. "The bottom line is, everyone wants a good relationship, and think of your first date as sampling a buffet," Greene advises. "You have a chance to taste a whole lot of different possibilities."
Not all first dates result in a relationship. Sometimes you're not into the other person. Other times, they might not be into you. It's normal, but you shouldn't let it bother you. In order to not be psyched out by the possibility of rejection, Greene advises seeing rejection as a gift "rather than something that’s going to devastate you." If after the first date, they tell you they're not interested in going on another one, Greene suggests you "symbolically shake [their] hand and say, 'I just want to thank you so much. You’ve done me a huge favor. You only wasted 40 minutes of my time, rather than 40 days or 40 weeks or 40 months. You have given me a gift.'" They told you right at the beginning that they weren't looking for a relationship, and now you can move on to the next first date that could actually turn into something more, if that's what you want.
To help calm your first date anxiety, it's important to remember how valuable you are. Greene suggests a few little games that can help remind you, in case you forgot for a second. Right before your date, list 10 fabulous things about yourself, 10 adjectives that describe who you are, and/or strike a Wonder Woman pose and say to yourself, "I am fabulous."
"I think what else happens is that we worry if all the items on our checklist don’t get checked off. I want you to ditch the checklist for the first date, and I want you to think about how you’re feeling, and if you’re having any fun, and try as much as you can to stay in the here and now," Greene advises. When you don't have a mental checklist to be concerned about, you can completely invest yourself in this new person and get to know them without thinking that they need to check all your boxes.
"Have a dating uniform," Greene says. "Something that you feel amazing in. It could be your favorite jeans. It could be your most comfortable pair of shoes, or your high heels. Don’t worry about repeating it, because it’s a first date. You can wear it over and over. As long as you feel attractive in it, you’re going to exhume that self-confidence." This will not only help you feel your very best, but also remind your date you're a total catch (on the off chance they don't already know).
If you're feeling anxious before your next first date, consider trying any of these strategies to help calm your nerves. Remember, the person you're going on the date with is probably just as nervous as you. And if it doesn't go as well as you hoped, that just means there's someone even better suited for you out there.
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