Take the Edge Off First Date Nerves

Tamsen Butler
Woman waiting in cafe

There can be a fine line between eagerly anticipating a date and falling into the realm of being anxious or nervous about a date. Though first date nerves are normal for daters of all ages from teens to seniors, some people find they need to employ some tactics in order to calm their nerves before setting out on their date.

Don't Fear the Nerves

There's a saying actors use to explain the nerves they feel before walking on stage or in front of a camera: "If you're not nervous, you don't care." In this way, nerves before a first date can simply reveal that you care about making a good first impression and also that you care about the other person's experience. In this way, nerves before a first date are merely indicative of you caring - and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Plan for the Nerves

Once you acknowledge that first date nerves aren't something negative or something to be abolished, it's easier to use the nerves to your advantage. Schedule an active date - something that allows you to get moving since this will make it easier to hide any nervous finger tapping or foot shaking that can come with nervousness. If you know beforehand that you're not going to be confined to a table at a restaurant, you will be less worried about your nervousness revealing itself in anxious movements.

Preparation Is Key

A first date isn't the time to go to an entirely new place involving potentially complicated logistics. For example, planning on attending a pop-up restaurant that happens in an undisclosed location that only a select few hear about in advance is a recipe for a frustrating night as the two of you zip from one potential location to another, trying to find the pop-up.

Avoid Uncertainty

Uncertainty only adds to the stress of a date and dealing with that looming uncertainty will increase pre-date nervousness. While avoiding too much rigidity, plan out the date to set you up for success. Go somewhere with which you are familiar and comfortable. Wear clothes that you know look good and feel comfortable; this isn't the time to try a brand new pair of shoes that you've not yet broken in or wear pants that might split if you sit too quickly.

Do Something Physical Beforehand

A quick workout or walk around the block will help ease your nerves before your date. The endorphins you get from exercising will elevate your mood and make you feel happier, helping lessen your feelings of nervousness.

Right Before the Date

You've prepared for the date and planned something fun and familiar, and you've even accepted your nerves and are ready to try to roll with them, yet you can't shake the feelings of acute anxiety you feel right before the date. Perhaps your heart rate is elevated, or your hands are shaking, or you feel downright panicked. In this instance, try some of these quick methods to decrease your pre-date nerves.

  • If you have diagnosed anxiety and have a prescription medication to help you in times of stress, consider taking one as long as it doesn't make it difficult to function.
  • Take some deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and forcefully exhaling through the mouth.
  • Try some positive affirmations, assuring yourself that you're going to have a good date and a fun time.
  • Call a loved one to talk through your feelings; be sure the person you choose to call is typically positive.

The Date's Beginning

If awkward silence makes you feel nervous, arm yourself with some interesting conversation topics to keep the flow of the conversation progressing smoothly. Even if you are nervous, avoid repeatedly stating, "I am so nervous!" Your nerves can affect the other person and make them nervous too.

Exuding Confidence

The more confident you feel, the less nervous you will appear. Stand tall, look your date in the eye, and speak clearly. Or, as some might say, "fake it 'till you make it."

Nerves Ease Eventually

It's important to understand that a first date in which you are nervous doesn't doom any potential for the relationship. In fact, some might argue that a date who is nervous is fairly endearing because it means they care. Try to not let your nerves get the better of you; simply accept your emotions and do your best to put your date at ease.

Take the Edge Off First Date Nerves