First dates. If you’re like most people, you prepare for them with a mix of anticipation and fear. I know. Not only am I a Jewish matchmaker who calms the first-date nerves of many singles, but I’ve also been on more than a few first dates myself. The nerves are quite understandable. Any time you open yourself to the possibilities of meeting someone new, there’s the risk of disappointment or rejection. Add on the idea that the person you’re about to go out with could be THE ONE, and those nerves can pile on tenfold.
For your date to be successful, though, you have to hold those nerves in check. Here’s the good news: this doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some simple techniques to remember.
1. Pay attention to your breathing. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: just breathe. It sounds so simple, right? Sure, everybody breathes. But when it comes to relieving stress, very few people do it correctly. Before your date, take some deep breaths, and focus on the moment. This, in and of itself, will automatically calm you. You probably don’t want to be too obvious about deep breathing during your date, and that’s understandable. But even then, there are subtle ways to pay attention to your breathing. Many times, just by reminding yourself to breathe properly, you can guide yourself into remaining calm. If you’re not sure how to do it, here’s a terrific video from therapist and mental health specialist Kati Morton to guide you.
2. Less talking, more listening. For many singles, much of first date stress comes from worrying about what they’re going to say. I often tell my clients to say less and listen more. This helps for two reasons. First, if you talk a lot when you’re nervous, you’re more likely to say something you probably shouldn’t. But, maybe even more important, when you’re listening, you’re learning. The more you learn about your date, the more confident you become.
3. Make sure you’re comfortable with the atmosphere. On first dates—as in life—atmosphere is important. If you love the nightlife, you may be perfectly fine at a fancy restaurant or the newest, hottest nightclub for your first date. If you’re more restrained, coffee and a movie might be more your thing. Whether you’re the one suggesting the place, or you’re the one agreeing to it, it’s important to settle on a place where both you and your date will be comfortable. Whatever you do, avoid saying “yes” to a place just to please your date. If you’re uncomfortable, it will show—and it will not leave a good impression.
4. Dress for your date AND for yourself. Sure, you want to dress in a way that’s eye-catching for your date. But, when you’re thinking about what to wear, don’t forget about YOU. Beyond looking great, you also want to wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. When you look in the mirror, you want to look great and feel great. When you carry yourself confidently, it shows. Chances are, your date will notice. If he doesn’t, he’s probably not right for you, anyway.
5. Have a back-up plan. Sometimes, first dates don’t go well. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a part of life. But here’s a news flash: even after a terrible date, the world still goes on. If you think beforehand about a back-up plan, you can rest assured that, if all else fails, you can go to Plan B. It could be as simple as keeping your best friend on speed dial, so you know you can just call her up and say “You’ve won’t BELIEVE what just happened to me.” Some people even go as far as having friends come with them, placing them nearby just in case they have to give that friend a cue if the date’s going badly. You might call this passive-aggressive. I say it can be a form of dating survival. If having a back-up plan will ease your nerves, go ahead and make it.
By taking these techniques into consideration, you will survive any first date with your nerves, and your dignity, intact. And remember, if you are a Jewish single, Elegant Introductions is here to help you. Contact us today. Our mission is to match you with Jewish singles who want what you want—a successful, long-lasting relationship. We can help you reduce the stress of first dates—and of the entire dating process.