Many people view first dates as inherently stressful, and have never experienced a stress-free first date. A great deal of anxiety, nervousness, and high expectations can surround a first date, making it easy to psych yourself out rather than psyching yourself up.
However the first date should actually be the least stressful date of all, because you have little to lose and everything to gain. There are certain attitudes and routines that can help you relax and enjoy your date, by reducing stress triggers, minimizing negativity, and focusing on making yourself feel good beforehand!
On a first date, you want to be the best version of yourself – refreshed, happy, and relaxed. You should feel confident and carefree, letting go of stress and insecurity so that you can fully enjoy the moment. To achieve this, there are specific habits to develop (and bad habits to avoid) as well as concrete strategies you can use to prepare yourself for your date.
Let’s start with the day or two before your date. If your date is Saturday night, on Friday night you’d be wise to take it easy – don’t stay out until 3am getting wasted at the bar. You’ll feel tired and cranky the next day, which will affect your mood and confidence on your date. Instead, spend Friday night with girlfriends taking it easy – go for dinner, or have a movie night, but try to be in bed by midnight so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed the next morning.
To reduce your stress on the day of your date, I recommend picking 3 possible outfits the night before your date. Choose three options that make you feel great about yourself – the dress you put on when you want to turn every head in the room, or the killer skirt/blouse combination that makes you feel like you’re starring in Suits. Plan everything down to the shoes, earrings, and purse you will wear with your outfit.
The reason I suggest choosing three outfits is that sometimes, something unexpected happens with the outfit you originally picked. You notice a stain at the last minute, the weather is drastically different from what you anticipated, or your mood just doesn’t fit the outfit that day. It helps to have two pre-picked backups so that you don’t panic right before your date.
The day of your date, keep yourself occupied. It’s a great idea to exercise or do something active, because the endorphin boost will improve your mood and energy levels. So go for a workout or a walk around your neighbourhood in the morning. Meet a friend for lunch, or work on a hobby/project that you love. If you’re the type of girl who likes being pampered, get a manicure and pedicure. Whatever you do, try to minimize the time you spend sitting around obsessing about the date that night.
As evening approaches, start your preparation routine early. Take a leisurely shower mid-afternoon, style your hair, spritz your perfume, and do your makeup. I always do my makeup and hair before getting dressed. For me, it ensures that I feel confident with whatever outfit I put on, since I already look my best. This will also protect your outfit from the ravages of makeup dust and accidental spills.
Strive to achieve a look that makes you feel beautiful without being artificial. You don’t need to wear a mask of makeup, or an intricate updo that won’t survive a gust of wind. Particularly with makeup, it can be very tempting to go overboard. However once you hit the point where you smile in the mirror and feel pretty, stop there! Don’t add that extra layer of eyeshadow or bronzer – too much will just detract from the final result.
As you’re doing your hair and makeup, play music that puts you in a good mood, and gets you feeling ready to go out. I usually have an extra bit of caffeine in the afternoon if I know I’ll be going on a date that night. Instead of an afternoon tea, I’ll have a coffee or latte around 4pm, so that the infusion of energy will carry me through my preparations for the date. There’s nothing worse than slumping into exhaustion an hour before your date, and wondering how you’ll drag yourself out the door and survive an evening of flirting and socializing. Don’t let that happen! Plan for it, and take the measures required to keep yourself energetic and positive.
An hour before your date, you might want to crack open a bottle of wine and pour yourself a hefty glass or two to help you relax and boost your mood. Sip it as you do your makeup and listen to your music. My go-to routine involved a glass of wine while doing my makeup, then a Manhattan shortly before leaving my house. This takes the edge off and primes you to go out expecting to have a good time.
Your attitude and expectations at this point in time are crucial. Many of us developed fairly negative pre-date mental scripts that run through our heads in the hours before a date. You wouldn’t be the first person to think to themselves, “This could be the first date with my future husband and the love of my life! I wonder if he’ll like me? And if he wants kids? Is he a dog person? Should I sleep with him tonight? What if he doesn’t like me? Oh god I better not screw this up! I could ruin everything!”
Alternately, you might have the opposite pre-date script: “Ugh, this is probably just going to be another awkward failed date. I don’t even know this guy. We’ll have nothing to talk about. Besides, the guy I’m really into works two cubicles down from me at the office. I wonder what he’s up to tonight?”
If any of this sounds like what goes through your head before a date, then it is high time for an attitude overhaul. Neither one of these scripts will prime you to feel or act your best on your date – in fact, they’re both likely to sabotage what could otherwise be a great (or at least decent) date.
Here’s how I want you to re-frame your thinking about the night ahead: You are going out to have an adventure tonight. You are going out to make a new acquaintance. To laugh, share a drink or a meal together, tell stories, and listen to stories. To be curious, playful, and have fun together. Tonight, you will meet someone new, and enjoy that moment in time together.
Your date tonight might end up being a one-time occasion, in which case you will have made the most of it, practiced your date etiquette, and will have a pleasant memory to look back on. If you end up having great chemistry, then it will be a great surprise – you’ll have an even better time, things will evolve naturally, and you’ll probably see each other again.
The point is that you are both just curious about each other right now, but that’s it – you have nothing to lose. You already know he is interested in you if he has asked you on a date, so all you need to do is relax, smile, and be your badass self. Tonight, your mission is simply to enjoy the ride, and to be good company for your date. So enjoy a drink or two beforehand, dress to kill, and go out with an open mind, ready to see what kind of experience life might have in store for you.
If your nervousness stems from shyness, or difficulty conversing during dates, then read this article about how to be a great date. You can also download my free ebook containing 30 fail-proof conversation ideas and questions that you can use to generate fascinating conversations with even a complete stranger. It also includes advice on how to put yourself and your date at ease during your date, and the ten topics of conversation to avoid at all costs on a first date.