I have a working theory that the extent to which you are worried about what someone else thinks of you is directly proportional to how nervous you will be on a first date. I might not be able to back up those facts with scientific research, but based on anecdotal evidence, the theory stands. As long as you are worried about how you come off to another person, you’re not going to enjoy yourself on a first date. Instead, you’re going to be fixated on what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing. It’s essential to calm your nerves before a first date so that you can actually have fun.
Because what’s the point of dating if you’re not feeling yourself? If the best case scenario for a successful relationship is that you’ll meet someone who will stick around long enough for the two of you to eventually die together, then you might as well find pleasure along the way. And dating, after all, is less about finding “the one,” and more about figuring out who you are on the path to discovering love. The person sitting across from you has something to teach you. Calming your nerves will open you up to the lesson. Here are some strategies from millennial daters just like you:
1. DISTRACT YOURSELF
I make sure to do a lot of things before it, so I don’t overthink it. I calm my nerves by not preparing at all, which could go very well or backfire. But if it backfires, it’s not meant to be.
— Leah Lippschitz, 25
Stacking your schedule will definitely remind you that there are more important things than dating. You don’t have to place someone high on your priority list until they prove that they’re deserving!
2. CHILL OUT
Before a first date, or really any event that makes me extremely nervous, I’m a huge fan of talking to myself. I talk out loud while I get ready, while I go to the bathroom, while I feed my cat before I leave the house. It’s really helpful, for me at least, to say the words I wanna eventually say in the conversation, out loud to myself, because even the sheer fact of knowing I can say these things out loud, and knowing I’m able to articulate my feelings and my thoughts without it all getting mixed up as it’s coming out of my mouth in real time, that all makes my confidence go way, way up. It also works well for me because it’s a physical way of releasing the nerves a bit, just blabbering aloud to myself.
— Allie, 24
Talking out loud can also remind you of what you want to come out of the encounter in the first place. With just a little bit of focus, you can think your reality into being, so focus on the positive and boost your confidence at the same time!
3. PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
Before a first date, of course I grab a drink while I’m getting ready, but the truth is, being nervous is all about being unsure of the unknown, so I find words work best to calm me down. If I’m totally panicked over a date, I remind myself that I probably won’t be thinking of this moment in 10 years or even in the next few days once it’s over! I also like to remind myself that I am the prize, and my date is lucky to just be going out with me! Once I remember that they are the ones who need to impress me, and not the other way around, I can definitely breathe a bit easier.
— Brittany, 26
There’s a lot of pressure placed on dating these days, but you can take it off of yourself by reminding yourself that you are completely in control of deciding what you do or don’t want.
4. DRESS FOR YOURSELF
I calm my nerves for a first date the same way I do for anything: by pretending like it’s nothing and I’m not bothered and just bulldozing through it, even though I’m actually freaking out. And I make sure to actually put on a full face of makeup, which makes me feel in control and gives me some time to talk myself down from the panic.
— Alexandra, 25
Far from being an act of vanity, applying makeup can also bring feelings of security, calmness, and empowerment in people who suffer from anxiety and depression. A little self-care before a date never hurt!
5. TAKE SOME DEEP BREATHS
I close my eyes and take a series of really deep breaths and I remind myself that whatever is in my head is not nearly going to be as ‘bad’ or ‘difficult’ as I think it will be. I just have to get through the first awkward three minutes (or however long it takes my first drink to come), and that if I can get through that, I can get through anything.
— Kylie, 29
Even when you think the awkwardness will last forever, it really is only temporary. Before you know it, either you and your date will start hitting it off, or the date will be over, and you never have to see them again. Suffering is always impermanent!
6. EMPOWER YOURSELF
I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, ‘Olivia, you’re kind, you’re pretty, you can tell a pretty good joke. You’ve got this.’ I say it until I believe it.
— Olivia Balsinger, 25.
Olivia also says that, as a professional matchmaker and dating consultant, she knows that confidence is sexy. As long as she goes into a date knowing she’s bringing her best, she’s taken the pressure off of herself.
7. MAKE YOURSELF LAUGH
Elite Daily’s very own Sex and Dating editor Theresa Massony, 24, even gets nervous before a first date, but she has her own methods for getting out of her head:
I go on my favorite meme accounts on Instagram and just scrolling through a bunch of memes that I know will make me laugh. Laughing helps put me in an overall better mood, it gets me thinking about something other than how nervous I am, and it gives me a good conversation starter with my date.
But doesn’t she worry about whether her date will share her sense of humor? “If they don’t love a good meme, I don’t love them,” Massony says. That sounds like a litmus test for everybody!