How to keep first dates stress-free
Any new situation can feel stressful because we are going into the unknown. Just like an actor going onto the stage for a new performance, first night nerves can often be an advantage as they stop them from being complacent and ensures that they give their full attention to the role.
Just as the actor can learn strategies for overcoming stage fright you too can develop ways to help bring your stress levels down to a manageable level for a first date – more like excitement than terror. Keeping you alert but stopping you from being too inhibited and self-conscious.
Build a rapport offline as well as online
Communicating online is great if you are shy because you can plan what you are going to say. Having said that, it is a very limited form of communication as there are no vocal tones or facial expressions to inform you of the feeling and meaning behind the words. If you meet someone you have only ever spoken to online the chances are that you will feel much more stressed than you would if you had spoken to them on the phone and built a rapport.
If talking on the phone, or Skype, feels too stressful this is a good indicator that you are not ready to meet someone face to face. Trying to make yourself take that big step without tackling earlier ones – the ones which will help you discover whether there is a real connection between you – will probably leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. Be brave and pick up the phone, even if you don’t talk about anything deep and meaningful you will become familiar with each others voices which makes your date less of a stranger.
There is no rush
One of the reasons people find first dates stressful is because they rush into it before they feel fully ready or prepared to meet someone new. While there are advantages to meeting up quickly to findout if there is any chemistry between you, it is also important to feel that it is something you really want to do rather than as a response to pressure from anyone -including yourself.
One good way of reducing stress about a first date is to bookend it with time to yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel to the venue but also time afterwards to get home and debrief with a friend.
Give yourself time for personal grooming and pampering – a new haircut or outfit could boost your confidence. . This isn’t just a superficial thing – taking time to do exercise before a date will boost your endorphin levels and make you ‘feel’ good as well as look good. Some people also practice relaxation or meditation techniques before a date so that they are in a calm emotional state for that all-important first impression.
Keep it brief
One of the most stressful aspects of a first date is the fear that you may not like each other but will be committed to spending a whole evening together which could be excruciatingly uncomfortable. A good strategy for overcoming this is to make the initial meeting a short one – perhaps a coffee date. If this first introduction goes well then you can both decide how to spend your proper ‘date’.
Stop fantasising – get real
First dates are often really stressful because people have allowed their imaginations to run away with them. . Having fantasies of love and romance with someone you have never met means there is too much riding on that initial meeting – it is no longer simply a meeting of two people but the possibility of all your dreams being fulfilled. This is far too much pressure – high expectations have further to fall than if you keep all fantasies at bay until you have met face to face.
Try, as far as possible, to keep an open mind and heart and meet the ‘real’ person in front of you rather than being too restricted by your fantasy image of your perfect partner.
Applying some of these strategies will help to reduce first date stress but it won’t eliminate it altogether. Sometimes what you interpret as stress is actually excitement and that is a very good thing to feel before a date.
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