Overcoming anxiety for the first date

Even if you’re not normally the type of person to struggle with anxiety, first date jitters can be one of your greatest obstacles just as soon as you’ve planned planned that first coffee get-together with the person you just matched with. 

We have good news, though— there’s a way to feel better! We put together these dating anxiety tips to help you get through it. Sure, you can consider us your wingman. We don’t mind.

  1. Keep your focus on the facts. “Our mind is incredibly adept at brainstorming worst-case scenarios when we encounter unknowns,” says psychiatrist Dr. Jared Heathman. It’s easy to catastrophize, but avoid the temptation to make assumptions about your date. You’re only human, which means that you can’t read minds. In fact, one of the basic tenets of dialectical behavioral therapy (a type of therapy which teaches a myriad of skills to those who have trouble regulating their emotions) is “check the facts”! Avoid making assumptions, particularly when it relates to your match– just focus on what you know is true. 
  1. Ask yourself what is making you nervous. While planning your date, be real with yourself and do your best to identify the source of your anxiety. Then, adjust your environment to benefit you the most. For example, you may want to carefully plan your date’s location and time to minimize distractions, or you may feel more comfortable in a crowded space where you can blend in. 
  1. Don’t assign blame. While it’s not healthy to obsessively focus on the worst-case scenario, it’s not a bad idea to at least prepare yourself for the possibility that this date won’t go as you planned. If this is the case and things go South, take care not to blame yourself (or your date) for the negative experience. This will only foster long-standing negative emotions that will leave you feeling agonized the next time you schedule a date.
  1. Keep the focus away from you. By steering your conversation away from yourself and toward your date, you provide yourself with an opportunity to relax and get out of your own head. That’s what a first date should be about, after all. Science says so! 

A study published in 2006 demonstrated with experimental means that socially anxious individuals had more positive interactions when they embraced curiosity. 

  1. Talk it out. Don’t be afraid to let your date know that you’re nervous—they’ll likely appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable, and they may even take additional precautions to add to your comfort throughout the date. This honesty will demonstrate that you’re willing to trust your date while also demonstrating your tendency to be genuine about your emotions.
  1. Ask for help. If you find that your romantic life is consistently made difficult by unwanted anxiety, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. By speaking with a local therapist or even just having a chat with some trusted friends, you’ll be taking a solid step toward finding even more personalized tips with dealing with dating anxiety.

By matching with someone online, you’ve already won your first battle. Now, with these strategies at your disposal, you’ll be able to overcome dating anxiety like a champ and make the first date with your match a time to remember.