The thought of going on a date can be both exhilarating and terrifying all at once. You’re excited to finally meet this man in person after bantering online. Will sparks fly? Will this be your last first date? Or will you end up hitting the red buzzer after 10 minutes because he’s a foot shorter than he said he was in his profile, doing a quick outfit change in your car, and heading out with the girls? You’ll never know until you go on that date. Whether it’s date numero uno or your second or third, in this article, I’m sharing my tips on how to not be so nervous for a date that it ruins the experience for you. Because you don’t want to be breathing heavily into a brown paper bag or downing a bottle of vodka pre-date.
Is it normal to be nervous for a date?
Hell yes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on two dates in your whole life or two hundred. Nervous energy is all part of the dating experience. It’s scary putting yourself out there and risking rejection. If you weren’t a little nervous, you wouldn’t be human.
Why do I get nervous before a date?
Because you care. You care about making a great impression and showing up as your best self. You want to enjoy yourself, and you want him to enjoy himself too. Maybe you have some insecurities about how you look, your social skills are a little rusty, or this is the first date you’re going on since you got divorced. Maybe you suffer from anxiety, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is more challenging for you than it is for others. We all have our hang-ups and personal battles that we’re working through. Take this as a much-needed reminder that we’re all perfectly imperfect.
Regardless of the source of your nerves, I want you to be able to simmer that nervous energy on your next date and have a fantastic time. So, here are my tips on how to not be nervous for a date. These are the same tips we give to all the women in our Love Accelerator Program.
Here’s how to not be nervous for a date
1. Own your feelings
Feeling nervous before a date? There’s a good chance he is too. Dates are nerve-wracking, especially first dates because you’re likely meeting someone in person for the first time. Blind dates can feel even more full-on.
So, next time you feel nervous going on a date, just own it. If you’re feeling nervous, tell him—it’s endearing. In the rare instance you do something embarrassing like snorting while laughing or accidentally taking a tumble while on your way to your table, laugh about it. We have all been there at some point. Unless this guy is an as*hole, he’s going to be able to relate to how you feel and will go out of his way to put you at ease and move the conversation along.
2. Do a social warm-up
You know how before you give a big presentation at work, you have to run through your notes, check your slideshow is working properly, and practice enunciating? Well, going on a date requires some prep work too.
In order to get into the right vibe for your date, it’s vital to get socially warmed up. Head to a bar you like before you meet him and practice your flirting skills on the bartender. Talk to lots of different people. Get your lips moving and the conversation flowing. This will put you into a heightened social state before the date so that when you meet him, you’re bursting with positive energy, you’ve got lots to say, and you’re feeling good.
If even the thought of going on a date fills you with stress, do something that day to help you unwind. Maybe you do ten minutes of peaceful meditation, attend a chilled yoga class, do some gardening, or listen to a relaxing playlist while you get ready. Whatever works for you.
I know a lady who always bakes when she’s stressed. Carrot cake, pumpkin pie, lemon tart—if she’s baking, you know she’s trying to take her mind off something. And baking is great because it forces you to be fully present in the moment. You don’t have room to panic about your hot date because that butter needs churning, and those egg whites need whipping, and you’ve got to watch those sponges rising in the oven like a hawk.
4. Do something physical
Research shows that both athletes and patients can gain psychological benefits from exercise, including stimulation, relaxation, and countering anxiety disorders, depression, and stress, which means we can all benefit from doing something physical. So get active in a way that feels good for you. Hit the gym, lift some weights, do a spin class, try an online workout class at home, head out for a brisk jog, or jump into the ocean for a refreshing swim. Physical activity is one of the best ways to not be nervous for a date because it distracts you from those jitters, helps you relax, and boosts your emotional state.
Writing out all your nerves and fears is another brilliant tool for calming those pre-date butterflies.
What’s your biggest fear about going on this date? What are you worried about?
Walking into a glass door instead of through the actual door and him seeing? Getting spinach stuck in your teeth at dinner and not realizing it until you get home? Calling him John the entire night when his name is James, but he doesn’t correct you? Running into your ex while you’re on your date?
What are the chances of any of these things happening? Slim, right? Getting them all down can help you realize this.
Journaling is also a great way to plan out some conversation starters or questions to ask on your date, so you feel prepared. Handy if he turns out to be dreamier than you remembered, and your mind goes kaput.
6. Call a friend for a pep talk
Who is the friend you call who always lifts your spirits, says the right thing, and makes you feel like a total Goddess who any man would be lucky to date by the time you’ve put down the phone? Even if you just got dumped, your car broke down in the middle of the highway, and you missed the finale of The Bachelor all in the same day.
Call or text that person for a quick boost before your date. Maybe meet in person if the timing works. Share how you’re feeling, tell them you need a pep talk, and then let yourself receive the ego rub that follows. Talking to and spending time with people we love can transform how we feel.
7. Make sure the date you’re going on feels comfortable
Wondering how to not be nervous for a date? Plan a date that feels safe and comfortable for both of you.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you have a fear of heights, but this guy suggests going to a theme park for your date. Think roller coasters that fly backward, big wheels you have to crane your neck just to see, and spinning teacups that make you feel nauseous in a heartbeat. But maybe you enjoy bumping cars, tucking into a giant pink fluffy cloud of candyfloss, and throwing hoops around coconuts hoping to score the big prize and carry around an oversized stuffed teddy bear the rest of the night. It’s your job to tell him this before you go on a date so that he knows what your boundaries are. This way, you won’t have nightmares for days about helter skelters and ferris wheels.
If you’d rather go somewhere else, let him know. Get involved in the planning stages. Know where you’re going ahead of time, so there are no awkward surprises. Like, “Hey, I picked out this steakhouse for dinner, I hear it’s the best in town,” at which point you say, “gee, it looks real nice, Steve, but I’m a vegetarian.”
8. Make it short & sweet
A first or second date with a guy shouldn’t last longer than a couple of hours. Don’t let things drag on endlessly, even if you’re enjoying spending time with him. In Love Accelerator, I always recommend that you leave a date when it has just reached its peak so that you maintain an air of mystery and leave him hungry for more. Don’t give him your life story or a play-by-play of your day. Be an onion — onions have layers, and you want to gradually reveal more of yourself the more you get to know someone.
So go into the date with an exit plan in mind, whether it’s meeting friends afterward for drinks, spending time with your kids, or heading to the gym. Don’t have your friend call you with a fake emergency because, at this point, everyone knows that’s code for “this date blows.” If you have actual plans afterward, you don’t need a fake emergency, and you’ll feel so much more relaxed knowing how your night is going to pan out.
9. Plan an active date
Grabbing coffee or dinner seems to be everyone’s go-to date, but this gets real old fast. Plus, when you’re sitting opposite each other in a formal setting, it can echo a job interview and generally leads to generic first-date questions. What do you do? Where are you from? What are you going to order? Blah blah blah blah blah.
Here’s how to not be nervous for a date (or be a lot less anxious)—make it an active date. Maybe you play crazy golf or visit an art exhibition or go bowling. This will blow your conversation wide open and give you a lot more to talk about. And because you’re doing something more laid back, you’re likely to feel way more relaxed than if you’re in a fancy-pants restaurant where the waiter keeps interrupting you every ten minutes asking if you’d like more bread. Dude, the answer is always yes; I always want more bread.
10. Look and feel your best
Step number one of my 7 Little Love Steps is to build your sexy confidence. What I mean by that is if you want to calm your nerves and feel great, you’ve got to turn your attention inward first and focus on loving yourself. Because when you do, you’ll no longer be worried about a man not finding you attractive or a date not going well. So remind yourself of all your unique talents and gifts and everything you have to offer someone. Bask in that for as long as you need to recognize your worth as a woman.
Lean into your feminine energy. Pick an outfit you feel comfortable and sexy in that accentuates your favorite feature. If you can’t walk in heels or find them super uncomfortable, leave them at home. And make sure whatever you wear is appropriate for wherever you’re going! Have a DIY pamper session at home, or go out and get your hair and nails done. Take a relaxing bath. Have a self-pleasure sesh (guaranteed to release endorphins which boost your mood and reduce stress). Do whatever you need to do to feel good.
11. Take a nap
A study found that people who don’t take a nap in the afternoon are more sensitive to negative emotions such as fear and anger compared to those who do. So get some shut-eye before a date (if you can). A 15-minute power nap is ideal. If you’re one of those people who cannot fall asleep on cue like that, put on a relaxing yoga nidra or sleep story, and you’ll be snoozing before you know it. Just make sure you set the alarm, so you don’t wake up in a panic with all of ten minutes to get ready and run out the door.
12. Enjoy one drink
I’m not against having a small drink ahead of a date, but my recommendation is to make sure you have one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you have. And don’t have more than two drinks total. So if you have one drink before, only have one on the date.
Alcohol can be a great way to loosen us up and calm those pre-date nerves, but you want to remain fully in control of yourself so you can make good decisions you’ll be proud of the following day. You know what I’m talking about—no slurring your words or throwing up in the back of a taxi or going back to his place after a first date when you’re looking for more than a hookup.
13. Be prepared
One of the big reasons people get nervous before a date is because they worry about what to say. Will I be interesting enough or funny enough, or intelligent enough? Will I dazzle him with my wit and charm and flirting skills? Will the conversation peter out after ten minutes and end up in one big awkward silence? Oh, the awkwardness.
It’s simple to avoid this. Like I mentioned earlier, you’ve got to be prepared. Make a list of topics or interesting questions to talk about ahead of time. If you already know a bit about this guy, briefly research some of the hobbies he’s into or his job so you can ask him something more personal and relevant. Always keep things light, bright, and playful on the first few dates.
14. Focus on having fun
This is a date with a guy who you’re attracted to and might potentially want to become romantically involved with, not a date with your accountant. So chill out already. Make it your mission to enjoy the date and have fun. Enjoy meeting someone new, gaining a fresh perspective, and having a unique experience. It might help to think of this guy as an old friend instead of someone you barely know. How would you show up differently if you’d known this guy for most of your life?
15. Set one intention for your date
You might have dozens of dating tips and words of wisdom running through your mind ahead of your date that leave you even more overwhelmed. I’ve got to smile and talk and laugh, all while balancing my head on the table and singing Wannabee…
My advice is to pick one intention ahead of each date you go on. And before you head out the door, pause and take a moment to think about what your intention will be, similar to the way you might set an intention at the start of a yoga class.
Your intention might be to have fun, be yourself, be a little more flirty, or smile more. At the end of your date, check in with yourself. Celebrate the effort you made to work on your intention.
16. Less focus on you, more focus on him
If you want to not be nervous for a date, shift your focus from you to him. Instead of wondering whether he’ll like you, or whether you’ll impress him, or whether you’ll say the right thing at the right moment, or if you chose the right earrings to wear, start paying attention to him.
Does he meet your love vision (this is Little Love Step #2)? Are you enjoying his company? How does he make you feel? Are you attracted to him? What is he saying? Are you even listening, or are you just getting lost in the deep blue ocean of his eyes and wondering what he looks like shirtless?
17. Remember, it’s okay if this date doesn’t go anywhere
Another significant contributor to pre-date jitters is the pressure we put on ourselves for it to be a “success” and go somewhere. As if an hour spent talking to someone new and getting a look into their world and way of thinking isn’t enough on its own.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a second date with this guy or not. It’s okay to be honest if you’re really not feeling it halfway through and go home. It’s okay if it’s not a typical “good” date. It’s more than okay if this man isn’t your person. All this means is you don’t see him again. So instead of letting your mind race into the future, focus on being present on the date. Go into it believing this is all it is, nothing more, and see if this helps calm your nerves.
In Little Love Step #4, I tell all the women in my coaching program to make sure they’re dating loads of different guys. This way, you won’t even notice when one of them becomes a dead end—you’re too busy talking to someone else! That’s the ultimate way to give less of a fu*k when dating.
18. Don’t give yourself a hard time
Okay, so you have a disastrous date, and everything you said you were going to do went out the window, and you didn’t show up as your best self. Now you’re at home on the sofa, punishing yourself by rehashing all of the things you did wrong while you neck a bottle of wine and then cry yourself to sleep.
Chances are it didn’t go as badly as you think it did. Human beings tend to be over-critical creatures and dwell on the negatives. And even if it was a trainwreck, who cares? Learn to laugh about it. Learn from it. Focus on doing better next time. Be gentle with yourself. No one starts out being great at dating—the more you do it, the better it will be.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: it’s normal to be nervous ahead of a date. You’re not weird, and you’re not alone. Use these tips to help you relax next time and pay attention to how each one makes you feel. Some will work better for you than others, depending on who you are and the root of your nerves.
Are you going on a date tonight? Drop your intention for the date in the comments below!
PS. If you’re ready to avoid the flaky men and the players, then it’s time to learn the 7 little love steps – Register here to get started (it’s 100% free).