If you are not a fan of online dating, last year was probably pretty rough for you in terms of meeting new people. After the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns and social distancing guidelines were put in place, planning traditional dates was no longer an option. Zoom and FaceTime dates quickly became the norm and some people loved the idea of staying in their homes while simultaneously being on a date. Now, over a year later, restrictions are being lifted and people are getting ready to step back into the social scene, which only makes first dates that much more intimidating.
Feeling apprehensive about getting back out there is completely normal and luckily, there are a few steps you can take to ease your mind beforehand.
1. Take It Slow
One of the most important things you can do when you’re feeling anxious is to take your time. Don’t try to push your limits right off the bat, you’ll only be making yourself more nervous. If you rush into an overly romantic setting, you might end up putting too much pressure on yourself. Try keeping the date a bit more casual at first, so you can relax and get to know each other without too many implications. There are so many ways to have a fun and unique experience without too much pressure. Consider picking a place that’s in your comfort zone, or somewhere you’ve been before. This way you know mostly what to expect, like how to get there, where to park, and what kind of seating there will be. Eliminating as many unknowns as possible will help immensely.
2. Be Realistic
It’s good to have an idea of what to expect beforehand; however, you absolutely have to be realistic. Love at first sight may exist, but if you plan to walk out of that first date engaged you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Keep in mind that first dates are about getting to know each other and getting a sense of the vibes. Remind yourself beforehand that the goal is just to hang out together. Also, plan for the chance that it won’t be a perfect date. It’s perfectly ok to be hopeful, but if you remember going into it that you may not land a second date, it might help soften the blow. This can protect you from having an overly emotional reaction in front of your date if you do get rejected.
3. Be Confident
Before you even think about dating, make sure you’re feeling confident with yourself. When you feel confident, it’s so much easier to relax and have a good time, rather than stressing about what they might think. Put together a comfortable, appropriate first-date outfit that you feel great wearing. Spend some time sprucing yourself up a bit, perhaps trying out a fresh hairstyle. If your hair is thinning and you’re self-conscious about it, talking to a doctor about options for hair growth products can help you get your groove back. Lastly, don’t forget to be body positive about your physique either. During lockdown when gyms were closed, many people tried shifting their fitness routines to an in-home workout. That’s a lot easier said than done, so don’t feel bad if you gained the so-called “quarantine fifteen.” Hit the gym for a while to get back in shape and feeling your best.
4. Own Your Anxiety
Honesty is the best policy, so when it comes to being anxious about the date, just say so. Trying to act like you aren’t nervous will hinder your ability to relax and be yourself. Also, remember that they are probably just as nervous as you are. Things are bound to get a bit awkward one way or another, so try to just roll with it. Make a lighthearted joke about it so they don’t think you take yourself too seriously. If they are nervous like you, you’ll probably be helping them feel better at the same time. If they aren’t nervous, but you’re upfront with them that you are, they’ll likely appreciate your honesty and maybe even help you feel more comfortable. Trying to hide or fake your emotions is stressful and overwhelming, and your date won’t get a true sense of who you are.
5. Have An Escape Plan
Preparing for the worst case scenario ahead of time can help give you peace of mind. Sometimes, the date is truly awful and it’s tough to know how to handle it. Everyone puts the best version of themselves out at the beginning when you first meet. You may find early into the date, however, that they aren’t the kind of person they seemed at first. Maybe they exaggerated their photos and look nothing like you thought, or maybe they have terrible manners. Sometimes, in the absolute worst situations, you may feel threatened. Make sure you’re meeting your date in public and a friend knows where you are. You can even set up a code word that you can text them as an emergency S.O.S. so they know it’s time to come pick you up. Driving yourself is always a good option, so you know that no matter what happens you have a way to get home safely.
Feeling nervous about dating again after more than a year of isolation is nothing to be ashamed of. Planning ahead, setting expectations, and being honest can relieve the stress and overwhelming worries before you meet. Dating should be fun, not stressful!
For more dating tips and tricks, click here!