Expert tips for calming pre-date jitters

pre-date jittersHelp is here. Here're some tips on how to overcome this common problem. We’ve rounded up advice from experts who teach people how to stay calm in nerve-wracking situations. Try their tips below for putting your best dating foot forward.

Tip #1: Keep a healthy perspective about what first dates are really for “The first and most important step in overcoming the fear is to put your first date in perspective: this is not an appointment with the dentist or brain surgeon who may inflict pain on you; rather, it is a conversation with another person. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t connect with the person sitting across from you — it’s hardly the end of the world! Second, think of this date as a two-way process. You are interviewing a potential partner as much as your date is interviewing you. Is there a good fit here? What looks good on the surface or on paper may not be what it appears to be for either party. Investigate whether this person is a good match for you and whether you want to invest a significant part of your life and energy in future dates.”

Tip #2: Breathe deeply while counting silently to calm yourself down “Here is a simple (but amazingly powerful) breathing technique you can easily do to manage stress while sitting in the car or on the train before a date. While breathing through the nose only, inhale to the count of three and exhale to the count of six. It only takes about two or three minutes to experience a noticeable, full-body calming effect. The reason? Deep breathing triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the ‘fight-or-flight’ response that underlies your jitters and results in shallower breathing. And if, during the date, you feel yourself getting nervous again, ask an open-ended question, like: ‘So, what’s working at a college really like?’ and then put a soft smile on your face while you breathe the shakes away!”

Concentrate on the present moment instead of worrying about the future “Dating is like auditioning — the stakes are high, so nerves will undoubtedly come into play. I would tell daters the same thing I tell my actors: When you get nervous, put your concentration into the present moment instead of the outcome. Every time you start to think about the future — “Will this person ask me out on a second date?” — force yourself to focus on the conversation at hand. You stand a better chance of booking another date if you can let someone see the type of person you really are, and that you’d be easy to get along with. You can’t do that if you’re draining your own energy trying to figure out what your date wants and what the result might be.”

Release pre-date tension by working up a sweat in the gym
“Work out first! You’ll have a positive feeling from all the endorphins, you’ll feel more confident about your appearance, and you’ll have released the tension from your muscles. Or, instead of going right to the date from your office or home, socialize a bit first — either by meeting a friend somewhere or otherwise putting yourself in a situation where you’re turning on your most positive personality for others. Doing this will make you walk into the date already feeling engaged and ‘up.’ Just do not talk about the upcoming date while you’re socializing, because that will put your mind back on the subject... and could make you nervous all over again.”

Put any negative thoughts in writing, then put a positive spin on them before leaving for your date “Divide a sheet of paper in half. On the left side of the page, write down how your critical inner voices or negative thoughts are undermining your self-confidence. Write them down as though you are talking to yourself; for example, ‘Don’t get too excited about this date. He/she is not going to find you attractive enough.’ Next, on the right-hand side of the page, write down a more realistic or congenial statement about yourself. Like, ‘I may not be a supermodel, but I have good features and a sense of humor.’ Decide which of these more positive, realistic statements you will act on before your date begins. They reflect the real you.”

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