If you get anxious on first dates, the good news is most other people do too.
Micheline Maalouf is a licensed therapist from Orlando, Fla. She gave In The Know five tips on how to handle first date anxiety. But before diving in, there’s one thing Maalouf wants you to know — and it may assuage your fears.
“Experiencing anxiety prior to a first date is completely normal,” Maalouf said. “We all want to be perceived as likable and that comes with a bit of anxiety.”
Phew. Luckily, Maalouf said there are some things we can all do to navigate our first date woes.
1. Choose the right setting.
“Schedule the date for somewhere public,” Maalouf suggested. “Somewhere fun and somewhere light.”
Hikes, picnics and other outdoor activities are safer during the pandemic, but also can help set the tone of the date.
“This will allow for you guys to have a balance of fun things to do and some quiet space to get to know each other,” she said.
2. Prepare your outfit.
“Preparation can really help take a lot of the pressure off. You can prepare yourself by trying on the outfit that you’re going to wear,” Maalouf explained. “Make sure that it fits, that you feel good in it and that it’s comfortable.”
The therapist said comfort is actually a really big deal on a date. If you’re worried about how your clothes fit, you may not feel like your best self.
3. Converse thoughtfully.
“Ask open-ended questions,” Maalouf advised. “Open-ended questions usually start with the words ‘what’ or ‘how’ and they help elicit storytelling and they help the person elaborate a little bit more.”
Close-ended questions are usually “yes” or “no” questions that can shut down the conversation.
“Instead of asking something like, ‘Do you like to play video games?’ which can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ try to ask, ‘What do you like to do in your free time?’ or ‘How do you spend your weekends?'” Maalouf suggested.
4. Be confident.
It might be easier said than done, but try your best to be confident when you set out on a first date.
“I want you to remember that people are often worried more about themselves than they’re worried about you,” Maalouf said. “So if you’re the kind of person that’s overly critical of themselves and tends to worry about what other people are thinking, I want you to remind yourself that the other person is probably feeling the same way even if they’re not showing it.”
Maalouf said it’s OK to take breaks from your date while on a date.
“It’s OK to get up and walk around and take a break if you need it,” she said reassuringly. “It might also be a good idea to let a friend know that you’re going on this date. That way, if you do begin to feel a bit panicky or anxious, you can text them a little bit and they can help talk you through the emotions.”
If the date is going badly, the friend can also help be a part of your escape plan.
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