Last week I watched as my roommate fluttered about our apartment preparing for a first date. Every aspect of this first meeting was carefully planned and executed—from the time and place, to the outfit, complete with the perfect accessories.
When I asked her how she was feeling after she had buttoned her purple coat by the door, she bluntly replied, “Jessica, I’m terrified.”
More than three hours later, she returned after an evening of good conversation and laughter. Her date was clearly a success, so why was the stress and anxiety necessary?
Dr. Seth Meyers, Psy.D., a leading licensed clinical psychologist specializing in relationship, anxiety, depression and addiction issues, recently posted his tips for breaking down first date anxiety.
While these tips are not specific to Catholic singles, I still encourage you to follow these recommendations (paraphrased by me) before you venture out on your next first date.
1. Create a “needs & deal breakers list.”
Focus anxious energy by creating a list that includes the main characteristics or factors you want your future partner to have. Your list may include: “Needs to be employed, needs to ask me questions about myself and show interest in me, needs to have some similar interests.” You should also write a list of your deal breakers.
2. Use positive self-talk.
“Self-talk” is a pop psychology term which refers to the running dialogue you have in your head and the things you say to yourself in response to things that happen throughout your day. As you prepare for your date, consciously say nice things to yourself and you’ll find that you feel less anxious about the date ahead.
3. Focus on the date activity, not who you’re going to meet on the date.
It’s wise to hope that you meet someone you like, but simultaneously prepare yourself for the possibility that the two of you won’t make a good romantic fit. By taking some precautions like planning an activity that fits your interests, you can virtually guarantee that you won’t have a bad time because you’ll be doing something or going somewhere you love.
4. Vent to your best friend.
If you’re anxious and feel like your head is spinning, call a friend and say “I need a five-minute pep talk.” Take a few minutes and vent about how you’re feeling. If you give yourself a space to vent your negative feelings, you’re more likely to be able to bounce back a few minutes later, focus, and remind yourself that dating can be fun and enjoyable.
5. 10-minute workout
The mind is often overactive with pre-date jitters. By working out beforehand, you get your body activated, too, so that all that restless energy isn’t trapped inside your head. Getting your body balanced is a big part of feeling mentally balanced on a date.