Dating.  Ideally, it should be nothing but fun, exciting and something to savor.  But that’s not the reality for a lot of people.  In fact, it can be pretty terrifying.  So many questions, doubts, and fears race through your head that you are utterly unable to enjoy what could be an excellent experience.

This is especially true if you have recently got into online dating after being out of the dating scene for a long time. Dating can be incredibly intimidating and nerve-racking. That is why a lot of us avoid it for so long.

Am I interesting enough? Have I asked enough questions?  Would my Mom like him/her? Is the venue nice enough?  Are they bored? Have they noticed how sweaty my palms are?  Should we kiss?  Is this just a waste of everyone’s time?

As with so much in life, overthinking is your enemy when it comes to dating.  Easier said than done, but stop analyzing.  Thinking fuels anxiety directly, in all areas of your life.  So when you allow your brain to go into overdrive, all you are doing is giving a platform for your thoughts to feel more real.

Nerves are healthy, but how do you try to keep a calm mind and keep the anxiety from taking over?

Six tips for getting over your dating anxiety

Okay, so you have been talking to somebody for a while after meeting online and have finally set up a date. You are starting to build up nerves thinking about the date. Here are some recommendations for you to calm down.

Don’t go  

Sounds silly, but nobody should be made to feel like they HAVE to do something.  Honestly ask yourself if you’re doing this for the right reasons? Stepping outside your comfort zone can be very rewarding, but leaping out of it can be needlessly terrifying.  If you felt a little bit of something nice when you spoke with your date beforehand, that’s a good sign.

And if you felt something strong, then you may not even get anxious about the date.  If you’ve been set up by a friend because they think ‘it’s what you need right now,’ but the reality of what you need right now is a DVD box-set and cuddles from your cat, do that instead.

Breath

Obviously.  But make a deliberate effort to breathe deeply and calmly.  Preparing in this way activates the body’s stress releasing mechanisms and a calmer you is a good thing.  Before you arrive, think about deep breaths in, hold them for a second or two, and then extended release of breath. 

You might feel a bit stupid sat on the bus doing this, but I can guarantee you that you won’t be the weirdest looking one on public transport,

Get active

‘interview’ style dates over a table are only going to highlight your anxiety.  You, them, a candle and just your chat to fill the silences.  Daunting?  Suggest an activity date.  Walking, exploring the city, comedy club, or some feature restaurant where there is stuff going on like Teppanyaki. 

Takes the pressure of any quiet points in conversation and allows other avenues of chat to open up without you doing anything.  A pigeon dancing like MC Hammer is conversation gold for example (this being an example of a distraction if you went exploring the city.  Hopefully not in the teppanyaki restaurant)

They are NOT the ‘one.’

Because it probably doesn’t exist.  7 billion people on the planet and you are hoping to bump in to ‘the one.’  Not going to happen.  So rather than putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, and them, take a breath (metaphorically and literally) and approach the date differently. 

Rather than ‘I need to make a great impression as they might be ‘the one’’.  Think ‘this will be fun, I could get along with them and who knows where it may go.’  The second approach is much more healthy, more realistic and immediately takes the pressure off. 

They could well be ‘one of’ the people you are compatible with amongst the 7 billion to chose from, but ‘the one’ is a fairy tale that makes dating way more terrifying then it needs to be.

What if? 

Easily the least helpful question anyone could ask themselves in any given scenario.  ‘What if…?’ questions will only allow an anxious brain to take worse case scenarios and start to treat them as fact.  

What if I accidentally spit food on them?  You almost definitely won’t.  What if they notice my spot?  Oh my God, you’re not one of those freaks that gets places are you?! (let’s do a quick survey of the 7 billion people on planet earth to see how many of them have ever had a spot!).  What if he/she is the one, but I’m too nervous to make them laugh? 

If they are ‘the one’ (See point 4), then you won’t feel nervous because you’re so compatible.  Be present in the moment.  Deal with only fact and what is happening at that time.  Not easy to do and takes practice, but you will be a much more calm person when you learn to do this. 

What’s already happened can’t be changed, what is yet to happen is unknown so shouldn’t be worried about – enjoy the now as it is the only time that will bring happiness.

Manage your expectations

They may well be beautiful to look at.  They may well have seemed entirely in control when they asked you out.  They may well have a fantastic job.  But believe me, they have stuff going on too.  EVERYBODY does.  Going into a date from the angle of ‘I must impress them’ only adds pressure to you. 

If self-doubt and anxiety is something that you struggle with, it can only seem natural to be a bit self-deprecating and assume an ‘inferior’ position.  Do not do this to yourself.  They may be better at pretending and presenting the best version of themselves, but they too will have hang-ups, fears, and dramas in their life.

Dating can be and should be, fun.  Nothing more, nothing less. But understand this isn’t always the case.  I hope these six tips helped you with your online/first date success. Just let go and let whatever happens happens. At the end of the day, nothing bad will have happened. Check out my other article on how to create a successful dating profile.