Anxiety can kill a first date.
If you find yourself feeling anxious on first dates, you’re not alone. And fortunately, there’s a lot you can do about it.
Here are 18 tips for overcoming first date anxiety so you feel calmer and more at ease when meeting someone new.
Understanding First Date Anxiety
First date jitters are completely normal. In fact, most people experience them, no matter how cool and confident you are otherwise.
It can feel like you’re the only anxious one on the date, but keep in mind that odds are your date is at least somewhat anxious too.
To help you overcome your first date anxiety, it's important to practice self-care before the date, and to choose date activities that will create a positive, relaxed environment where you can feel at ease.
By following these tips, feeling comfortable with vulnerability, and understanding the nature of your anxiety, you'll be able to navigate first dates with more confidence and less jitters.
Let’s get started on some basics about what anxiety is itself.
First date anxiety is a common feeling that many people experience, regardless of whether you have an anxiety disorder or not.
Though it is more common among people who have an underlying anxiety disorder, first date anxiety isn’t a clinical disorder in itself.
Nearly everyone has concerns or nerves going into a first date. It's important to recognize these feelings and take steps to manage them in order to have a positive dating experience.
Your mental health plays a big role in how you approach first dates.
Keep in mind that anxiety is a natural response to new or uncertain situations, but that doesn’t mean that anxiety has to cripple you in these situations.
You can manage your emotions to ensure that they don't restrict your dating life.
There are many coping strategies you can use to minimize anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques that work to calm your nerves before a date.
Emotions are in flux and changing rapidly before and during a first date.
In the case of first date anxiety, your emotions may range from excitement to fear to embarrassment. You may feel your self-confidence go from highs to lows from sentence to sentence.
To better manage your emotions, try to focus on things you're excited about, like passions you can talk about during the date or the sheer fact that you can get to know someone new right now.
Remind yourself that it's normal to feel nervous and that your date is likely experiencing nerves as well. You’re not alone here.
Mental and Emotional Preparation
1. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are a simple and effective method for reducing anxiety and achieving mental calm.
Deep breathing helps slow down your heart rate, oxygenate your brain, refocus your thoughts, and calm your mind.
To practice deep breathing, find a comfortable position and inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and diaphragm to expand. Exhale through your mouth slowly and fully, until you have no more air to breathe out. Count how long it takes you to breathe in and out, aiming for at least 2-3 seconds in and 3-4 seconds out. Repeat these breaths until you feel calmer.
Meditation is one of the best ways to calm your mind and manage first date anxiety.
While you can meditate right before a date to lessen anxiety, it’s best if you develop a regular routing of meditating.
Spending just a few minutes each day practicing meditation can help you get in touch with your thoughts and emotions, enabling you to train your mind to stay present. This’ll help you become familiar with your own mind and allow you to channel your inner calm during your first date.
Try guided meditations or apps that provide instructions to help you find the best method for your needs.
Practicing mindfulness means being present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judging them. You accept your mind and body as it is and care for it.
Mindfulness training can help you manage any anxiety that arises during your first date.
When you start to feel anxious, pay attention to your thoughts without getting carried away by them. Observe your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and accept them, but remember that they’re only temporary. They don’t need to control you; you can control them.
4. Managing Expectations
It can help in a lot of ways to manage your expectations when it comes to dating.
Expectations sour reality most of the time.
Remind yourself that it's natural to feel anxious on a first date, but that you’re more than your anxiety. And your anxiety doesn’t control your fate.
Keep your expectations humbled and realistic. Let’s be real here — not every first date will be great, and that's okay.
Maintaining an accepting, nonjudgmental perspective toward yourself and your date can help alleviate anxiety and give you a more enjoyable dating experience.
5. Getting Active
Doing activities that involve both physical movement and mental relaxation are perfect for helping you overcome first date anxiety.
Exercises such as yoga, swimming, running, weightlifting, sports, or going for a walk can improve your energy levels and release feel-good endorphins that calm your nerves and soothe your mind.
6. Get Ready for Your Date
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare before a first date. The last thing you want is to feel rushed before the date.
Take a shower and pick out your outfit ahead of time. Dress in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Looking and feeling your best on the date will boost your self-esteem and make you more relaxed when you’re with this other person.
Getting a good night's sleep the night before your date can help with anxiety. Being well-rested will help you feel more alert, focused, and calm.
Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Having a bedtime routine with relaxing activities, like reading, listening to calming music, meditating, drinking chamomile tea, or taking a warm bath can help.
Try going to bed and waking up at the same time the day before and the day of your date to get yourself into a regular sleep schedule.
8. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine can be awful for anxiety, so keep your caffeine intake to a minimum on the day of your first date.
Consuming too much caffeine can make you feel jittery, anxious, or on edge, making your mind race.
Caffeine can also dehydrate you. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day of the date will help keep you hydrated, which helps your body maintain good energy levels and helps your mind stay clear during your date.
Planning the First Date
9. Creating a Plan
When planning your first date, choose an activity that both you and your date will enjoy and feel comfortable in. When you put yourself into a setting you’re familiar with, it reduces the chance of experiencing anxiety.
Sharing interests with your date is an effective way to break the ice and connect on a deeper level off the bat, so if there’s something you know you have in common and enjoy doing, then see if you can make a date out of it.
Choose a location that is conducive to easy conversation and creates a relaxed feeling in the atmosphere, such as a cozy coffee shop, a quiet park, or a local art exhibit.
Be flexible and remain open to suggestions from your date about what they’d like to do, as that kind of planning collaboration can help alleviate any tension.
10. Focusing on Comfort
To have a most comfortable and enjoyable first date, wear an outfit that makes you feel confident and relaxed, meet at a public place that feels safe and familiar, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the date early in case of traffic or any delays.
Taking these steps can help reduce anxiety and allow you to take control over your first date experience, opening you up to be present in the moment with your date.
11. Be Yourself
Being authentically true to yourself is important for overcoming first date anxiety.
Embrace your uniqueness and let your personality shine. When you show confidence and comfort in who you are, your date will be more attracted to you and will feel more at ease as well.
Be genuine in embracing both your strengths and your weaknesses. Nobody wants to date someone perfect. We all want someone to accept us for who we are and to accept them for who they are.
12. Reinforce Positive Qualities
Focusing on your positive qualities as you head into a first date can help improve your mood and build self-confidence.
Before the date, take some time to reflect on your strengths, achievements, and attributes, and remind yourself of what makes you unique.
To validate and build your positive qualities, consider practicing daily affirmations or positive self-talk and surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who encourage and uplift you.
Effective First Date Conversation Techniques
13. Conversational Topics
When preparing for a first date, it can help to prepare some interesting and engaging topics to discuss on the date. This may make you feel less anxious, especially if you’re worried about awkward silences.
Here are a few conversation ideas to help you out:
Hobbies and interests: Talk about your favorite hobbies and ask about your date's interests. See if you have any common interests or shared passions.
Career and goals: Share what you do for work, how you got there, what you like about it, and your future goals. Learn your date’s too.
Recent experiences: Talk about recent events, trips, or interesting life experiences you've had. Sharing stories is a powerful way to understand how someone sees the world, which helps you connect and find common ground.
14. Active Listening
Active listening is key for bonding with someone through conversation on a first date.
Here are some ways you can practice active listening:
Pay attention: Focus on what your date is saying. Avoid interrupting them and try to stop yourself from thinking about your response while they're talking.
Show empathy: Express genuine interest in and care for your date's thoughts and feelings. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their perspective.
Ask open-ended questions: Create deeper and more meaningful conversation by asking questions that lead to something more than a yes or no answer. This helps open up conversation to more possible avenues and maintains a more balanced dialogue.
Reflect and clarify: Summarize your understanding of what your date has said by validating some main points back to them, and ask for clarification if you’re confused about anything. Show your date that you're fully engaged and want to make them feel understood.
Active listening works so well to reduce anxiety and promote bonding on a first date because it creates an environment of open communication, trust, and capacity for deeper connection.
15. Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication is just as impactful as verbal communication on first date.
If you’re feeling anxious on a first date, it might show in your nonverbal communication. You can use these strategies to overcome your anxiety and convey confidence and comfort:
Eye contact: Maintain good eye contact to show that you're actively listening and present in the conversation.
Body language: Use open body language (e.g., facing your date, uncrossing your arms) to create a welcoming, available, and nonjudgmental atmosphere.
Facial expressions: Smile lightly and use facial expressions that convey interest, empathy, and understanding to make your date feel more comfortable.
Coping Mechanisms for First Date Anxiety
Feeling anxious about your first date is completely normal, and fortunately there are proven strategies that can help you relax and manage any first date situation.
Three excellent coping mechanisms are listening to relaxing music, practicing deep breathing, and seeking professional help.
16. Relaxing Music
Listening to relaxing music can help calm your nerves before a first date.
Music is psychologically powerful. Slow, soft melodies can help lower your heart rate and reduce your stress levels.
Consider creating a playlist of your favorite soft music to listen to in the hours leading up to your date to get yourself into a positive headspace.
17. Deep Breathing
Practicing deep breathing exercises is another effective method for managing anxiety and can work wonders before a first date.
Before your date, find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and take slow, deep breaths. As you inhale, count to four and fill your lungs fully with air. Then, exhale slowly, counting to eight. Repeat this process for a few minutes until you feel calmer and more centered.
Focusing on your breath before and during a date can help you stay present and calm, making it easier to be yourself on a date with a clear and relaxed mindset.
18. Seeking Professional Help
You don’t need to face your anxiety alone.
If you find that your first date anxiety is overwhelming and persistent, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. Therapists and psychologists are extensively trained to provide personalized guidance and effective treatment plans for managing anxiety.
Talking to a professional about your anxiety can be a proactive step towards improving your mental health and enabling yourself to live your life to the fullest capacity you can.
How to get more first dates from dating apps
Hopefully these tips give some insights into how to overcome first date anxiety.
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