By Emily Fletcher
First dates can be a huge source of anxiety. Even though dating is fun and exciting in theory, we often find ourselves feeling anxious about how a date will go and if the person will be a match.
This fear comes from a few things. The first is our desire to control—to know exactly how things are going to turn out. The second is our expectation about what the experience should be like. In our minds, it’s only a good date if the other person is soul mate material. And the third is the undue pressure that we put on ourselves to “perform,” resulting from our own insecurities and the feeling that we might not be enough on our own.
Here are a few first date tips and techniques to help you move out of the fear and into the best possible date experience:
1. Remind yourself that this date isn’t going to make or break you.
Here’s the thing: You already have all the fulfillment that you need inside of you. You don’t need another person to complete you. Once you’ve tapped into this fulfillment, you’ll be able to approach first dates with a sense of healthy detachment.
You realize that your happiness doesn’t exist on the other side of any person, place, or thing. It exists inside you, in the here and now. You stop thinking that a relationship will be the source of your happiness, and instead you’re able to view your relationships as a channel to deliver the fulfillment that you already have. So going in with this mindset on a first date means that you’ll give off very different energy than going into it with the mindset that you need this person to save you or to make your life better.
Detachment is sexy; neediness is not.
2. Don’t get stuck on your expectations.
You might also find yourself going into the date with the worry that the other person won’t be enough.
If you’ve done my “ideal partner” exercise, you probably have a good idea of what kind of person you ultimately want to end up with. But your only job on this date is to be open to whatever the universe is handing you. Instead of worrying about whether or not the person is going to be your perfect match, what if instead you gave yourself permission to simply be excited about the date? Sometimes we’re trying so hard to protect ourselves from the fear of it not working out that we miss the best part, which is the anticipation.
3. Allow the experience to be the reward.
Take a moment to permit yourself to see the date going well. Picture yourself sitting across from the other person in a great location. You’ve ordered the perfect food, you’re sipping on the perfect drinks, and everything feels effervescent, flirty, and fun.
Even if you know it isn’t a fit, what if you hold this person as the most beautiful version of themselves? What if you choose to see only the great things about them, and you love and accept them as they are? Asking yourself “What have I learned inside of this exchange?” and “What have I enjoyed about this interaction with this human?” helps take the pressure off because it shows that this doesn’t have to be an interview for a spouse for the rest of your life. This way, you can allow yourself to enjoy the experience for the sake of having the experience.
4. Acknowledge your efforts.
Picture the date coming to a close, and saying goodbye to your date and thanking them for sharing their time and energy. Then find yourself coming back to your home and give yourself a high-five for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. What’s important isn’t the outcome of the date; it’s the fact that you put yourself out there and allowed yourself to have an enjoyable experience with another human being. Because at the end of the day, we’re all simply humans and we all want to be loved and be seen.