13 Ways To Calm First Date Jitters
Remember: It's just a date.
Got a case of the butterflies before a big first date? You wouldn't be alone. According to Match.com's 2018 Singles In America survey, 89 percent of singles get nervous before a first date. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to help calm first date jitters. From preparing a few questions beforehand to planning a fun date that will keep the conversation flowing, here are some easy ways to quiet those nerves. If all else fails, remember this: your date is probably just as nervous as you are. And before you head out, make sure you know the 14 Undeniable Signs a First Date Went Well.
1. Hit the gym before your date.
"Instead of letting all of your nervous energy bottle up, hit the gym and let it all out," suggests Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of Dating.com. Breaking a sweat is a great way to get those good endorphins flowing, making you feel more confident and happy and getting you into the mindset that you're going to crush it on this date.
2. Take a shower.
It's been proven that humans feel more relaxed near water, a phenomenon known as "Blue Mind" science. Taking a relaxing shower taps into this theory. "Most people shower either at the beginning or end of the day and because of that, your brain associates a shower with a sort of reset button for your mind," says Michelle Baxo, love expert and owner of Power Love programs. "You are switching modes once you take a shower. If you're feeling nervous before a date, set the intention to reset to calm and confident. Carry that feeling with you as you get ready."
3. Wear what makes you feel comfortable.
Forget the latest fashion trend or trying to look "hot." Relationship expert Kate MacLean of dating app Plenty of Fish says what's most important is that you feel comfortable. "Comfort is the key to confidence. It's very hard to feel confident and relaxed if you're worried about your clothes being too tight or your heels being too tall. Wear something that you know is comfortable and that makes you feel sexy throughout the date."
4. Listen to your favorite upbeat music.
Turn up the tunes to set the vibe while you're getting ready. A 2013 study published in PLoS One found that music had major stress-relieving effects. "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. "Blast your favorite music. You will be too busy singing and dancing to overthink the night." Cue the Beyoncé on repeat.
5. Plan a fun date.
Get creative! "The first date doesn't always have to take place at a restaurant," says MacLean. Not only will it give you plenty to talk about if you shake things up with a fun activity, but it can also provide some great insight into what kind of hobbies you both like to do in your spare time. "Doing something unique may even help loosen you up and bring out more of your personality," she says. Keeping active also cuts down on the time you have to psych yourself out about lulls in conversation.
6. Prepare a few questions in advance.
Even if you do have an active date planned, and especially if you don't, having a few jumping-off points or questions for conversations might ease your nerves. "Prepare some fun questions like your most embarrassing story, your favorite place to visit in the world or two truths and a lie," suggests Erica Suzanne Fultz, dating coach and matchmaker. "Having fun with your date and talking about things you know and are familiar with help you relax during the date as well as be prepared for when the date starts."
7. Put your date in the friend zone for the night.
Here's a way to calm first date jitters you may not have thought of: adjust your mindset to make the date less serious than it seems. "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," says Sullivan. "By friend- zoning your date for the first date, it will help to reduce your anxiety and lower your fear of rejection." It's okay if the romantic feelings come later. A first date is all about getting to know someone.
8. Be authentic.
"Don't feel obligated to agree with everything your date says," advises MacLean. "You don't have to get into a full-blown argument if you disagree on something but staying true to your real opinions and values will help both of you know whether or not you're compatible with one another," she says.
We get it: you want to impress the person you're on a date with. But there's no need to get worked up about putting on an appearance that you're a perfect match from the get-go. Giving yourself permission to be the fullest version of yourself will ease the nervousness that comes along with keeping up a facade. Just be you and try not to worry about what the other person is looking for.
9. Try aromatherapy.
A 2013 study found the smell of lavender helps to calm the nervous system by promoting relaxation. "We can feel incredibly relaxed with the use of scent," says Lauren Cook, M.M.F.T. "Bring a roller pen with peppermint, lavender, or eucalyptus scent and you'll be amazed at how it can soothe the nerves." You might even want to turn your diffuser on while you're getting ready for extra relaxing, spa-like vibes pre-date.
10. Don't worry about what you order.
We're all familiar with the rules on what you should and should not eat on a first date. Messy foods like chicken wings usually rank as number one no-nos, but try not to worry too much about getting something on your face. "It's your time and you should spend it enjoying something you actually want to eat," says MacLean.
11. Keep your options open.
Remember that this is just a date. Whether it's a first date, third date, or tenth date, it can still be nerve-wracking depending on how much pressure you put on the situation. "One reason why so many people have first date jitters is they allow themselves to become emotionally invested too quickly," says relationship expert and author Kevin Darné. "They become stressed out because their whole future appears to be riding on this date."
His advice: don't act like you are already in an exclusive relationship if there is no relationship yet! It may seem like a hard mentality to adopt at first, but allowing yourself to release some of the pressure may help to ease first date nerves. Remember: dating should be fun! The serious stuff can come later.
12. Turn your nerves into excitement.
A 2014 study by Alison Wood Brooks at Harvard University showed that people who reframed their anxious mindset (known as a threat mindset) to one of excitement had a more positive performance outcome. This can be as simple as adopting some self-talk, like saying, "I'm excited" or "Get excited" to yourself as a way to calm nerves and channel them into a more productive outlook.
At the end of the day, a first date is what you make of it. Take a few deep breaths before walking out to meet your date to recalibrate your body and mind. Deep breathing is a great way to release any tension you may be holding in.
"Take a breath and visualize yourself being in the situation," says Dr. Linda Humphreys, a relationship and spirituality expert. "See and experience yourself as calm, relaxed, and confident—by being yourself."
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