- Dating jitters aren't unusual. Even if one is generally confident but hasn't dated in a while, it's natural to be nervous.
- It's important to have a plan for how to tackle nerves so they don't take over when they come up.
- A 5-10 minute visualization exercise can help improve confidence before a date.
No matter how many times you’ve been on a date, it’s not unusual to have first-date jitters or feel nervous about meeting someone new. On the other hand, if you’re usually confident but haven’t been on a date for a while, that can also impact your dating confidence.
Each date is unique and you never know what you’re going to get; whether that’s a funny story, a love match, or something in-between. It may not be realistic to expect that you won’t feel nervous at all during initial dates with someone new, but it can be helpful instead to have a game plan for dealing with those nerves when they do come up so that they don’t take over.
You may not have control over the date or how the person responds to you, but you do have control over building your dating confidence.
How to build your dating confidence
Building your dating confidence is like building muscle; it takes intention, practice, and endurance. Just like you wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to develop endurance and muscle, you wouldn’t expect the same result with building your dating confidence. If you want to build your dating confidence, consider trying the following tips:
1. Create a pre-first date routine. An intentional pre-date routine can help you feel calm and confident. Consider what activities or exercises can help you release tension and feel centered on the day of your date. When you feel grounded, it can help you manage your nerves and be fully present on the date.
If you’re not sure what activities can help you feel grounded, consider creating a pre-date playlist of songs, trying meditation, dancing, physical exercise, or a mindfulness exercise such as tuning into your five senses.
It’s a good idea to test drive this routine before the day of your date, to determine if it will be a good fit for you leading into the date. It’s best to first practice these exercises when you’re feeling relaxed, so your body will start to associate the exercises with feeling calm and you don’t feel pressure to try something brand new when you may already be feeling nervous about your upcoming date.
2. Reflect on times you’ve felt most confident. When do you feel most confident? Who were you with and what were you doing? During which activities do you notice you’re feeling present and most like yourself? Maybe it’s cooking, dancing, or telling a funny story.
If possible, try and engage in at least one of those activities either before your date on your own to help get into a confident mindset or during your date.
3. Create a list of your strengths and include reasons why someone would be happy to get to know you. Reflect on your strengths and if you feel stuck, consider positive feedback you’ve gotten in the past or ask family and friends what they think your strengths are. Keep this list handy and review it before every first date. Not only can this be a confidence boost but it can also be a helpful reminder of the support you have in your life, regardless of how the date goes.
4. Identify questions you want to ask if you’re feeling stuck. First dates are often full of nerves, especially if you’ve never met the person before. Although those dreaded awkward silences are not uncommon, they can make the experience more painful than it needs to be.
Identify a few questions ahead of time that you can ask to get to know your date better if you’re feeling stuck. Consider questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no and that you can also answer, such as, “What was the last thing you were excited about and why?” “What is something that made you laugh recently?” or “What was the last show/movie you watched or book you read that you loved?”
5. Visualize how you want to feel on a date. Visualization has long been emphasized as a helpful tool in achieving one’s goals. This is a practice that research has shown can help with improving performance and confidence in sports. Visualizing how you want to feel on a date doesn’t necessarily guarantee a particular outcome, but it increases the likelihood that you will have a confident mindset going into the date.
Take 5-10 minutes to close your eyes and imagine how it would feel to be confident on your date. What would you be saying? What would your posture look like? What would you be thinking? How would your body feel? Try to focus on engaging your senses when visualizing the scene of the date to make it feel as vivid as possible. If visualizing how you want to feel is difficult for you, another method to consider instead is writing out how you want to feel on your date in the present tense.
6. Get feedback about your dating style. If you feel like it could benefit you to learn more about how you come across on first dates, consider meeting with a matchmaker or dating coach. Matchmakers and dating coaches are experts in providing this type of feedback and can help shed light on habits or mannerisms you didn’t know may have been getting in your way during your dates.
7. Know your relationship needs and communication preferences. When you know your relationship needs and communication preferences, you usually become aware early on if someone is not compatible with you.
Knowing this information is vital for connecting you to the right person but also being able to weed out the people who aren’t able to meet your needs. When you know what you want, you spend less time with people who aren’t compatible with you, which is empowering and can ultimately boost your confidence as well as your trust in yourself.
8. Instead of focusing on whether the other person likes you, consider focusing on whether you like that person. When you approach a date with the intention of getting the other person to like you, this is a barrier to an authentic connection forming and increases the likelihood that you won’t feel confident. Even if this approach works in the short term, you will eventually end up disappointed if you’re not being authentic and are simply prolonging the inevitable.
When you shift your focus to whether you like someone, it is empowering because it is no longer solely up to the other person to decide if the relationship progresses and as a result, this perspective shift can help build your dating confidence.
9. Decide on some strategies you can use on the date to help you tap into your confidence and manage any nerves that may come up. Consider having a plan for helping yourself feel centered on the date if you notice yourself continuing to feel nervous after the first 20-30 minutes of the date have passed.
This may look like stepping away and texting a friend for a quick pep talk, doing a brief breathing or mindfulness exercise, or reviewing a list on your phone that you’ve prepared ahead of time with reminders or affirmations that feel calming in the moment.
10. Get support from friends or family. Do you have someone in your life that you feel is supportive and gives great pep talks? Let them know you’re trying to build your dating confidence and how they can best support you along the way.
11. Consider your strengths and areas for improvement. Whether you’ve had previous dating experiences or are just starting to date, you can learn a lot from each experience regardless of the outcome. Consider reflecting on what you think went well on the date and what areas you would like to improve in. For example, maybe you were able to ask your date thoughtful questions to get to know them better but you also noticed that you were talking a lot because you were nervous.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.
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