By Lisa Macedo, LMFTLisa Macedo, LMFT Cognitive Behavioral Therapist Anxiety Panic OCD Teens

First dates can be daunting and anxiety-provoking. Here are some tips that can help you make your first date experience a more successful and enjoyable one.

Be Real

Firstly, though it may seem counterintuitive, it can be helpful to let your date know that you are feeling anxious. Often times, we are so nervous about making a great impression, we sit there and do not admit to our anxiety, it builds, and we find ourselves doing or saying things that we wouldn’t normally do. It’s a trap! The more you try to hide your anxiety, the more anxiety you feel. Sharing with someone how we feel, shows we are human, initiates others’ willingness to share if they are feeling anxious as well, and actually reduces your own anxiety (since you are no longer trying to hide it). If the person responds negatively to our disclosure, that will also give us valuable information. Let’s be real, dating is nerve racking!

Keep it fun!

Keep the conversation fun and flirty rather than serious and structured. I have often walked away from a date feeling like it was an interview with the person listing off all of their questions. There are several ways to make the conversation more easy going, not dry and forced. Some examples of conversation topics could be the place you chose to meet, or, if you notice a piece of jewelry, tattoo, or interesting clothing item they are wearing, ask about it. Getting information helps you understand them more and people often have interesting life stories about their unique attributes.

Don’t Mind Read

What if you begin to notice that you are asking all the questions and your date is not reciprocating? Often times, when situations occur differently than what we would like, we begin to assume what people are thinking. This is called mind reading which is another common trap of anxiety. Thinking negative thoughts, such as the other person is not interested in us, or is too self-absorbed, can increase our anxiety. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, notice the thoughts and let them go without judgment. Also consider other less anxiety provoking perspectives; they may be unsure about the questions to ask you, they may be feeling nervous too, or they may just be enjoying your wonderful praise. We know that first dates (heck, second and third ones too) can be very awkward, but we don’t have enough evidence to pinpoint why they are not asking questions. You can better gauge this as you get to know the person on the date.

Praise and Compliment

Another useful strategy for dating jitters is giving people compliments for physical attributes and/or their accomplishments in life. How often do we get praised? When praise is received, people soak it up, want to be around us more, and it helps put everyone at ease. It also helps take the imaginary spotlight off of you as most people love to talk about themselves to an attentive listener.

Remember, the most powerful way to decrease dating anxiety is by actually doing it! You will find that the more you do it, the less daunting and anxiety provoking it will feel, and the closer you will get to meeting a partner!

Happy Dating!

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