One of the worst things about dating, which can prevent the date from even happening in the first place, is nerves. For some lucky people, the adrenalin rush of meeting a potential new partner gives them a spring in their step and a twinkle in their eye that is intoxicating. They breeze into the room, full of smiles, and go on to have a fun, exciting first date, such is their enviable ability to turn those nerves into excitement.
For the rest of us – and we are in the majority here – the nerves on a first date can overpower us, preventing us from being ourselves and making us behave strangely: introverts can try too hard to be amusing and may blurt out odd things in an attempt to impress as they try to avoid being thought of as boring. Extroverts can end up interrogating their date, unaware that they are doing so, as they desperately attempt to ascertain whether the person they’ve met could be someone they can spend the rest of their lives with. Often men, in their well-meaning attempt to behave confidently and in-control, can end up coming across as arrogant and aloof. Sometimes confidently attractive women can play down their obvious appeal in the effort to be taken seriously, but end up appearing cold.
Prior to the date, people often build up the anticipation of the date so much that they needlessly stress about messing things up and losing a potential life partner. What to wear and how to speak or whether to kiss them hello, shake their hand, or smile politely, completely takes over and can become so mixed up in our minds that we panic, shake, worry and nearly cancel the date before it even happens.
At Drawing Down the Moon, we have already met, vetted, and rigorously hand-picked your date for you, so many of the sources of the anxiety that daters can feel has already been taken away, but there are some basic things we can all do to help ourselves:
Getting there: Make life easy for yourself by preparing for the date before hand. Double-check the time you’re meeting, remind yourself of the location, work out how you’re getting there, how far it is from the tube/bus stop/station, and how long it will take to get there with ease. Add 5-10 minutes onto your journey so you will arrive slightly early, so you feel calm and have set a leisurely pace for the evening from the start.
Plan this a few hours before the date so you’re not flying out of the door and flustered. Obviously no-one can help it if the tube breaks down or the traffic is heavy, so check out the route, check the traffic, the weather, and the location in advance.
Getting ready: Plan what you’re going to wear the night before your date so that if your favourite dress is in the wash or your smartest jacket needs to be dry-cleaned, you have the time to sort it out. Realising you’ve left your best-looking shirt at work while you’re in the middle of getting ready for your date is only going to add to any jitters you may be feeling.
Feel good about yourself and your outfit – many female clients find getting their hair blow dried prior to the date is a wonderful way to relax and to feel instantly fantastic. For men, a little extra time spent on grooming will never be time wasted. At Drawing Down the Moon we always encourage our clients to dress to impress, but stumbling about in brand new killer heels that you haven’t yet walked in isn’t advised. Wear clothes that you know you look good in and that you’ve already tried and tested on the world before now, so you’re not fiddling with a zip or worrying about your attire throughout the date.
Get a good night’s sleep the night before the date and, before you go to bed, do things that you know help you relax, so that when you wake up on the morning of your date, you are refreshed, energetic and at your best. Looking or feeling tired can also accidentally mean that you come across as disinterested, which might be the opposite of how you’re actually feeling, so make the necessary preparations to create an alert and present state of mind.
Get real: While it is true that people have known that they have met ‘the one’ on a first date, manage your expectations and thereby your nerves also. Do not set yourself up for disappointment by expecting a coup de foudre (the lust-at-first-sight bolt of lightning) on the first date, nor pressurise yourself that you have to be perfect because you think you will be meeting a perfect partner. All of our successful couples have kept their minds open, and their expectations realistic, before their dates, which allows the magic to start to happen. Your own high expectations of yourself, your companion and the date itself often shut out any actual possibility of them ever being met. We encourage our clients to meet at least twice. We know from experience that love is something that grows and develops, and is usually not felt in a first meeting.
On the First Date
Be genuine: Your date is going to be as nervous as you, so here is a litttle secret: focus on making them feel comfortable and relaxed, and you will also become relaxed! Remember that showing interest in your companion is a key part of successful dating, so to make a good and genuine impression, turn any nervous introspection outwards and put your energy into finding out a little about your date, with the goal being to just spend some time with this fellow human and seeing how things go. Ask gentle questions that show you are interested in them and listen, properly listen, to their answers.
Be brave: Another secret for you on a first date: confidence is a trick! I don’t mean lying or trying to be someone you’re not –quite the opposite. You really must just be your glorious self, but acting as if you feel calm and confident (even if you don’t) will make it appear to your date as if you actually do. The ‘I Whistle a Happy Tune’ song in the musical, The King and I, says this best:
‘Make believe you’re brave, and the trick will take you far, you may be as brave as you make believe you are’
Be well-mannered: Rather than getting distracted by thinking about whether the date is going well, continuing to employ good manners throughout the date can mask a multitude of hidden insecurities and worries. Keep your mobile phone in your bag and not on the table, on silent. Do not answer any calls, texts or emails unless they really are emergencies. If you have to check your phone from time to time, do it when your date has gone to the bathroom, or when you do.
Try to enjoy it: Maybe this is the one for you, or maybe it isn’t, but try to enjoy the conversation, the drinks and the evening regardless – you never know what a first date may eventually lead to.