Need A Pep Talk Before Your Date? Here You Go — You'll Be Fabulous

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Once upon a time, a woman (not me, I swear) got stuck in her date's window after trying to repossess the "number two" that she threw out of said window when it wouldn't flush. It made headlines around the world. That should be enough of a pre-date pep talk: The likelihood of you having another Poopgate is pretty much zero. (Plus now you know not to follow anything out of your date's window.) Still, first dates can be extremely nerve-wracking, and I'm a big fan of pumping oneself up with pep talks before a date.

Here's my personal take on first dates: the more you go on, the easier they get. Not to brag, but I'm 24 dates into a podcast experiment called "51 First Dates," so I can vouch for this with straight-up data. First dates used to turn me into a pile of mush and nerves and incur thoughts like "how rejected will I get tonight?" Now, they just make me think "I hope this goes well and if it doesn't, that's OK." Genuinely. I just don't see them as high stakes opportunities anymore.

Still, I do get a little bit nervous, especially right before I leave my apartment to meet a stranger. At their core, first dates are incredibly strange: you meet up to talk one-on-one with someone you probably have never spoken with before. I've found that I have different types of nervous energy depending on the date — if my date is with an old friend from college that I had never been romantic with before, I'm nervous in a very different way than if my date is with a stranger from a bar who looks nice, but could also be the next Ted Bundy.

Here are three pep talks that I truly believe you should read on the way to your next date. (Unless you're driving. Or walking. Then read them beforehand.)

If You Met On A Dating App

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Let's start with the most common of first date situations in 2018: the dating app date. Here's the thing, you're doing a thing that almost every single single person who wants to find a partner has done: you've swiped on faces and now you're meeting up with one. That's it. But also, you are taking control of your destiny! And I'm proud of you. Seriously, it's really easy to stay home.

Before you take off, I just want to remind you one more time that there is no shame in using a phone to find a date. There will be two to 10 other dating app first dates happening at whatever bar or restaurant you are headed to. You will have a decent time and your date will not murder because you have enough information on them — yes, you can Google "Tom K. + Morgan Stanley + Boston College + New York + LinkedIn" and deduce a lot about who you're about to meet up with. (But I wouldn't recommend the pre-date Google.)

But here's the thing, you don't even need to Google your date because you're going to go off the pictures you have from the app and find him. Yes, you will recognize him, and even if it takes a minute to find each other, you have your phone. And if it all goes to what I imagine to be actual hell, poo-in-window-style? You'll have a great story. (And probably a book deal.) Enjoy!

If A Friend Set You Up

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You may feel like the stakes are extra high because a friend set you and your date up for a solidly fun evening tonight and you want to impress your friend's coworker, but guess what? They're not. The stakes are actually lower for you, because you did not orchestrate the set-up. All you did was be the awesomely cool person that you are, so much so that your friend was like, "Damn, she is cool, and she should meet my very cool other friend!" The pressure is all on your friend! (Insert cackle here.)

Here's the thing: Most people are actually pretty bad at setting friends up, but there's an upside. Your date is going to be on their best behavior because you have a mutual connection. Additionally, you didn't have to do all of the swiping to get to this date, so you should be grateful to your friend. Set-ups are fun, so get excited to meet a new person, and remember, as Viola Davis says in The Help, "You is kind, you is smart, and you is important." Really, friends don't set their lame friends up. You've got this!

If You Already Know Each Other IRL

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OK, before I pep talk you, I'm going to relate to you: I weirdly find the first dates with people I know from work or friendship circles or college IRL the most nerve-wracking. They shouldn't be! You already know each other! But there is something about that "could we be more?" vibe that makes me put on a little extra anti-perspirant before embarking on the date.

Now, for the pep: No matter who asked who out, you and this person from your real life both agreed to try taking things to a romantic level, so you actually have a lot going for you tonight. You both know what each other likes and dislikes on some level — you've probably met in real life due to a shared interest or workplace — so you have something to talk about for sure! (Always tricky on first dates.)

Also, you know that this date has some sort of real-world attraction to you already — they've seen you in person, the possibility of you accidentally cat-fishing is off the table. The worst case scenario here? You just don't hit it off, but you go back to normal. It's not like you got drunk and hooked up, you just went on a date! The best case? You stay together and have all of the babies (if you want them).

No matter the date you're psyching yourself up for, remember this: it's just a date. It's one night of your life, and maybe just one drink. Trust that you are an amazing person who will make a great impression even if you do get a little nervous — I personally find nerves on a first date charming, so there's that. Now go on that date with one intention: Have some fun!