Dating Jitters: Easing First Date Anxiety
For college students, first dates can be both exciting and anxiety-inducing experiences. It's completely normal to feel nervous before meeting someone new, but it's important not to let anxiety overshadow the potential for a positive and enjoyable experience. As a mental health professional, I want to provide you with practical advice to help ease your first date anxiety, allowing you to approach the experience with confidence and a sense of calm.
I want to clarify here that this blog post is discussing anxiety related to excitement- NOT the kind of anxiety stemming from going on a date you don't want to go on, feel pressured to go on, or feel unsafe to go on. This post is discussing the nerves that can pop up when we're looking forward to meeting or dating someone new but are nervous about it going well. It's important to keep yourself safe and listen to your instincts, if you don't feel safe please utilize your resources and support network to keep yourself safe. Safety resources are provided at the bottom of this post.
1. Normalize Your Feelings:
First and foremost, remember that feeling anxious before a first date is completely normal. It's a sign that you care about the outcome and want to make a good impression. Acknowledge and accept your anxiety as a natural response to a new situation, rather than judging or criticizing yourself for it.
2. Challenge Negative Thoughts:
Anxiety often brings about negative thoughts and self-doubt. Challenge these thoughts by questioning their validity and replacing them with more positive and realistic statements. For example, if you find yourself thinking "what if they don't like me" stop and make space to think "what if they do like me". Remind yourself of your strengths, qualities, and the reasons why you agreed to the date in the first place.
3. Prepare and Plan Ahead:
Feeling prepared can alleviate anxiety. Take some time to plan and organize the logistics of the date. Know the time and location, and consider planning conversation starters or topics you'd like to discuss. Having a general outline in mind can provide a sense of structure and ease your worries. Have an exit plan prepared and know that you can use it if you're not feeling the date.
4. Practice Self-Care:
Engaging in self-care activities before your date can help promote a sense of relaxation and well-being. Take a soothing bath, practice deep breathing exercises, listen to calming music, or engage in activities that bring you joy and help you unwind. Self-care allows you to approach the date with a calmer state of mind.
5. Manage Expectations:
Keep your expectations in check. Remind yourself that a first date is an opportunity to get to know someone, rather than a make-or-break situation. Understand that both you and your date may feel nervous, and it's okay if everything doesn't go perfectly. Embrace the experience with an open mind and a sense of curiosity.
6. Focus on the Present Moment:
Anxiety often stems from future-oriented thinking and overanalyzing potential outcomes. Practice mindfulness techniques to ground yourself in the present moment. Engage your senses, focus on your surroundings, and redirect your attention away from anxious thoughts. Being present allows you to fully enjoy the date without getting caught up in worries.
7. Engage in Positive Self-Talk:
Use positive affirmations and self-talk to boost your confidence before the date. Remind yourself of your positive qualities, your worth, and the fact that you deserve to enjoy the experience. Encourage yourself with supportive and empowering statements, reinforcing a positive mindset.
8. Reach Out for Support:
If your anxiety feels overwhelming, consider reaching out to a supportive friend, family member, or counselor. Talking about your concerns and fears can provide valuable perspective and reassurance. Sometimes, simply voicing your anxieties can help alleviate them and provide you with the support you need.
9. Practice Deep Breathing:
Deep breathing exercises are effective in reducing anxiety. Before the date, take a few moments to practice slow, deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This technique activates the body's relaxation response and helps calm the nervous system.
10. Be Yourself and Consider Your Needs:
Above all, embrace authenticity. Focus on what you're hoping for from this date. Be true to yourself and remember that the right person will appreciate you for who you are. Emphasize your own comfort and enjoyment during the date rather than trying to please or impress your date at all costs. Being authentic creates a genuine connection and sets the foundation for a healthy relationship.
Note: This blog post is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or mental health issues, it is recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, please seek help immediately.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call: 800-799-7233 Text*: START to 88788 TTY: 800-787-3224 Chat: https://thehotline.org About the author: Sarah Santiago is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She provides therapy to Michigan college students and emerging adults (ages 18-29) virtually. Her specialties include helping clients work through anxiety, eating disorders, and improving self-confidence. Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Providing anxiety therapy and eating disorder therapy virtually to college students and young adults in Michigan. Licensed therapist serving all of Michigan, including: Marquette 49855, Houghton 49221, 49931, Gladstone 49837, Negaunee 49855, Ishpeming 49849, 49865, Hickory Corners & South Gull Lake 49060, Bloomfield Hills 48301, 48302, 48304, Oakland County & Birmingham 48009, 48363, Ada, Forest Hills, Grand Rapids, Whitneyville 49301, Novi 48374, Northville 48168, Franklin 48025, Ann Arbor 48104, East Lansing 48824, Mount Pleasant 48859, Kalamazoo 49007, Ypsilanti 48197, Traverse City 49684, 49686, Allendale 49401