Dating can be either excited anticipation, or fraught with anxiety. Meeting someone new, and trying to make a positive enough impression on them that they want to see you again can be stressful. Alternatively, you may dread what kind of first-date disaster might be awaiting you. Here are some ways to reduce your anxiety, and make the best of your date.
Look at your expectations.
Do you think the date will be a disaster? Are you running all kinds of worst-case scenarios through your head? Challenge the validity of your thinking. You may feel awkward, or say the wrong thing. You do not have to do everything perfectly, nor does your date. You will both make mistakes, and probably both feel some tension and awkwardness. That is OK, as it indicates you care about how other people feel, and how you are perceived. This is an important part of effective social behavior.
A date is like a job interview. It is a two way street, you may decide you don’t like them enough to see them again. Or you may feel a strong connection and attachment. Be prepared that this may not be reciprocated.
Prepare for your first date with someone new. Preparation is an effective way to reduce anxiety. Start by picking a nice meeting place. And…
Look your best. Physical attraction is typically the foundation of a relationship, at least among younger people. We are not all supermodels or elite athletes. Nor can we all afford (or want to wear) designer label clothing. That is OK. Stay with the basics. Gentlemen: Be very neat and clean. Take a long hot shower, apply good deodorant/antiperspirant, and a good body spray or cologne- but don’t over- due it. If you are in danger of immolation in the presence of an open flame, you have overdone it. Shave with a new razor and lots of hot water, so you don’t nick yourself. If you have a beard, shampoo it and trim it neatly. A fresh haircut is also a good idea. Your clothes should be clean, and matching. Brush, floss and rinse thoroughly.
Ladies: A lot of the same input applies regarding appearance, except you likely won’t have to tend to your beard. The bottom line for both: Look presentable, not slovenly. Appearance matters.
Google them. Find out about them before you meet. Part of the reason is safety. You may want to know if your date is on the state sex- offender registry. You can also find out if they are being honest and have integrity- are they who they say they are? You may also locate areas of common interest to stimulate conversation.
Arrive early at public place. Meet a stranger for the first time in a public place, in the daytime. Before departing, leave word with at least three people by phone or email where you are going, what you are wearing, and the name and description of your date. This may sound paranoid, but from my point of view, it is a sound safety precaution (My point of view comes from 14 years of doing rehabilitation with offenders, psychotherapy with crime victims, and teaching criminology).
Do coffee at midday. This can allow for a quick exit if things do not go well. Also, be realistic- do you want to spend money on an expensive dinner for someone you don’t know and may never see again?
Commentary by Dr. Carlo Carandang:
Dealing with dating anxiety requires preparation, and this preparation can lead to decreased anxiety. The problem with people with dating anxiety is that they are in need of practice dates, but they deal with their anxiety by avoiding dating altogether. This avoidance then maintains and worsens the anxiety, as you never get to find out that the date was not so bad after all, and you may even start enjoying your dates when you don’t avoid them.