Dating and forming a relationship with a new person is an exciting prospect. It can also be intimidating and nerve-racking.
Here are 6 simple tips to help you approach a first date with a calming perspective.
1. Refocus your thoughts to calm the nerves
Imagine for a moment that going on a date is like going to a meeting, and you’ve been asked to set the agenda for the meeting.
Do you want to set an agenda that is full of items such as fear, doubt, worry and discomfort, or an agenda of items such as possibility, fun and new experience?
The mind is an excellent tool for setting the agenda for everything in life, including a first date, without you even realising it! We can use the mind for creative imagination to conjure up all sorts of possible scenarios for our future, visualising and rehearsing upcoming events, conversations and possible outcomes.
Related: How To Get A Girlfriend
The mind is always doing this, often automatically when left unchecked, and your mind can end up running your life in a negative direction, and you unwittingly find yourself imagining scenarios you don’t want…
“What if s/he doesn’t like me? What if we run out of things to talk about? What if I really like her/him but they don’t feel the same way? What if, what if, what if…”
This is called rehearsing for disaster. The more we think thoughts like this, the more we feel nervous, uneasy, afraid, doubting and the excitement of potentially forming a new relationship gets buried under this avalanche of stress.
Notice that such negative thought patterns, and the feelings resulting from them, are not in relation to a real experience that is actually happening. It is all internally generated and future projected by the mind.
I always say, “Own your mind or it will own you”. This means you want to be aware of what your mind is doing, observing your own thoughts, and with awareness you can provide leadership to your mind, instructing it on what to focus on. For example, rather than rehearsing for disaster, you can choose to rehearse for success. You consciously choose to think positively in a direction that calms your nerves, with confidence and conviction. For example, “I am calm. I am excited about this date. It will be great to spend time with a new person. I bet they are really interesting. There will be so much to share and find out about each other. I’m looking forward to the movie/dinner/activity. I choose to focus on positive scenarios.”
2. Enter the date with a fresh, open mind and heart
The old saying goes you might kiss a few frogs before meeting Prince (or Princess) Charming. The challenge arises when you have previously met your fair share of frogs and now you’re tired of that, you feel a little cynical, jaded or critical of people, dates and the “dating scene” because of past experiences. You become nervous that this date is going to be like all the rest. You wonder if there really are plenty of fish in the sea. Fear creeps in.
So, to help you rise above all of this frog and fish business, let’s look at a practical tip…
First, be consciously aware of that fact that your mindset can have an impact on how the date goes. That’s right, the thoughts you are having quietly in your own mind do actually impact the tangible outcomes of the date.
If you are looking at someone and comparing them to a checklist you have in your mind, or comparing them to good dates or bad dates in your past… do they really have a chance to be seen by you, or to connect with your mind and heart in a genuine way? Are you really listening to them and seeing them for who they are?
There can be a lot of baggage in your perspective that blocks them from reaching you. Your job is to clear the baggage, to enter the date with a fresh, open mind and heart.
You do this, quite simply, by saying, “I promise to myself that I will see this person for who they are as an individual, fully present in this moment. The past is gone and I choose to see everything afresh here and now.”
3. There is no need to try hard to get others to like you
Logic would say that if there is a soulmate for you, a life-long relationship that is healthy and true, then it will come about naturally through you and the other person being yourselves and feeling a genuine connection.
Logic would say that no relationship has a stable foundation to sustain long term if one person is not able to relax and naturally be themselves.
Forcing yourself to fit with another person, trying to get them to like you, hoping that chameleon-like adaptation behaviour will result in them liking you, means you delay the inevitable… the fact there is no connection in the first place.
Remember that if just being yourself isn’t enough for them, then they are not right for you, and you are not right for them. It has nothing to do with the inherent value of either person, it just simply isn’t a fit!
You just being you, relaxed and natural, is always more than enough. It is all that there is and it is what will allow you to find, feel and nurture a genuine connection with another human being.
4. Keep it real
Let’s take the point above and go to the next level of understanding with it, to open up an even higher perspective that will help you remain calm when dating…
Think of someone in your life that you are totally comfortable with. A person that is your go-to, trusted confidante. Someone that you feel able to completely be yourself with and you know that they will accept you as you are. Close your eyes and notice how you FEEL when you think about this. That feeling is what it is like to be free and to be authentic. It is the feeling of being yourself unapologetically, without inhibition and without judgement. That is the real you, and it is hands-down the most amazing, attractive, engaging you that you can be.
Now imagine that you feel like people are looking at you, judging you and critiquing you. Close your eyes and imagine trying to prove to people that you are amazing. Imagine your mind coming up with all sorts of impressive things to say, and facts and figures to quote to elevate your self-image and show the world how great you are. Imagine having to pose your body and face in just the right way to look your best, strutting your stuff like a peacock with its feathers up in the hopes that others will notice you. How do you FEEL when you think about this? That is a lot of “stuff” to try and hold together! That feeling is what it is like to be caught in your ego. Ego says… “I am not enough as I am, and I need to prove myself and show how good I am, and it’s important that people validate me, recognise me, see me and hear me. I must put on my best mask of inner and outer beauty to meet the expectations of others. The more wanted I am by others, clearly the more valuable I am”.
Whether you realise it or not, you have an ego, we all do. Whether you realise it or not, your ego does this weird dance with people and life all the time. There are three problems with this ego-driven approach to dating (and to life in general).
First, it isn’t true and accurate.
Second, it is exhausting.
Third, it buries the real you so far down inside of yourself it is suffocating.
Having said all of that, it is very common, and most people experience this, so don’t be dismayed if you resonate with it and wonder how on earth to change this pattern. The ego does this until you check yourself, and until you make it a priority to keep it real.
So to calm your nerves before a date, remind yourself, “Authenticity is always more attractive than ego. I don’t have to be anything for anyone. I am just me and it is more than enough. My authentic self, relaxed and real, is the most attractive thing in the world. I let my natural light shine bright. I trust that the right people for me will see that”.
Nerves, fear and anxiety are thought and feeling cycles that have a tendency to escalate and gain momentum if they are not interrupted, and they generate very real physical reactions in the body.
If you are nervous before going on a date, it is vitally important that you use deep breathing to calm yourself. This form of breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is proven to signal the part of your brain which controls the body’s relaxation response and the “fight or flight response”. By breathing deeply, you are telling that part of your brain that there is no danger, and you are asking the brain/body to calm down. The trick to deep breathing for calming nerves is to take deep SLOW breaths, in and out through your nose, while letting your belly rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. Do this for 5 minutes, slowly, and you are guaranteed to feel calmer as a result. The breathing interrupts your nervous state.
The beauty of this technique is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. You can use it when driving to your date, when on the date, when in the presence of the other person, when you go to the bathroom during the date. Of course, this is not some big dramatic moment… “Please wait one moment while I engage in 5 minutes of deep breathing!” Rather it is a quiet, simple and widely understood way to use your body and mind holistically to function optimally in daily life. You can use this for general health and wellbeing as a daily ritual (5 minutes morning and night, like a meditation), use it for dating nerves, stress at work, worries over career/finances or problems with family … anything! Breathe, breathe, breathe.
6. If things aren’t working out, trust the process
You don’t like every person in the world, correct? Of course. There are over 7 billion people on earth. You are not designed to like them all, to want to be friends with them all, or to date them all. Likewise, not everyone is going to like you, “get you”, or want to date you. That is just life. And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with you. It wouldn’t matter if you were more or less of anything, it is just simply life! Everyone is coded differently in their mind, body and soul, and there are people we resonate with and others we don’t.’
Sometimes there is a mutual lack of resonance, sometimes one person feels it and the other doesn’t, sometimes both people resonate with each other and that is called the start of something good!
If things don’t work out on a date, remember that the natural flow is working in your favor. Life is designed to let the people who are not mutually resonant with you keep on moving, in and out of your life, leaving space for those who are.
This great insight was shared by Bernadette Logue of Pinch Me Living. If you’re looking for a way to experience life and love on YOUR terms, check out Bernadette’s free 4-part video series “Live with Inner Peace”.