How to cope with first-date jitters and dating anxiety

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      The prospect of going on a first date is initially exciting but as the date approaches, many singles frantically search for an excuse to cancel—nerves can get the best of people.

      Whether you’re meeting potential partners on an app or in the wild, experiencing butterflies or unpleasant signs of nervousness is common before a date. Thankfully, there are ways that these feelings can be managed.

      The pandemic has put the dating scene on pause but once the physical distancing restrictions are lifted, singles can resume their search for love. To help you re-enter the realm of dating with confidence, psychotherapist Julie Chang offers some insight into how singles can cope with first date jitters and anxiety.

      (Chang is available for an e-consultation through the Tia Health website for counselling services.)

      Go somewhere familiar

      “Depending on the client, I may recommend them to find certain elements they can control without coming across as intrusive to dates, such as suggesting a venue they are familiar with,” says Chang. “This way not all aspects are a surprise, which can be nerve-wracking for those who have anticipation anxiety.”

      By taking a date to your favourite eatery or bar, you’ll know what to expect in terms of seating, service, and ambience. Don’t worry if the servers have seen you bring multiple dates to the same restaurant; you need to do what’s most comfortable for you.

      Remember that you’re not alone

      Experiencing predate anxiety is normal and there’s a good chance your date is feeling the same way.

      “After this period of quarantine and social isolation, daters may experience intensified nervousness but know that you are not alone in your feeling,” says Chang. It might take a few dates until you get back into the groove.

      “If you find yourself overwhelmed with restlessness about meeting that potentially special someone, the first step is to identify and validate the emotional state rather than suppressing or dismissing it,” she says.

      Open up (but not too much)

      Sharing personal details with your date can help them open up and will make the date feel less like an interview. “Welcome and encourage your date to disclose things about themselves that you’d like to know by first sharing yourself,” she says. “This way makes it more inviting for your date to open up and reduces the potential for an interrogative vibe that some people give off in an attempt to know more about their dates.”

      Tell them about the trip you went on last year or how you spend your Sundays but avoid divulging anything that could be considered TMI [too much information].

      Don’t take rejection personally

      Not getting a text back after what you thought was a good date doesn’t feel wonderful but it’s not the end of the world. Chang encourages her clients to work through the feelings of rejection by determining the best and worst case scenarios.

      “Think of the best explanation for not hearing from them and then the worst explanation for the deadly silence,” says Chang. “Then find the mean between the two and come up with the most likely explanation like they are too busy or need more time to weigh their options.”

      After experiencing rejection, address your feelings toward the situation and then move on. Dwelling on the past can be self-defeating.

      Determine your worth and expectations

      Before you meet your hot date, take a moment to reflect on what you have to bring to the table. Chang notes that it is important to be aware of your own value as a romantic prospect and what traits or qualities you have that makes you attractive to others.

      Clearly defining your needs, wants, and expectations before re-entering the dating scene will also help you find the connection you want. “Think about your core beliefs and what ones you would like your date to share,” she says. “In addition, define the parameters of your dating approach: are you looking for a short-term monogamous relationship? Are you yearning for a serious polyamorous relationship? Or, are you lusting for a simple hookup?”

      By asking yourself these questions, you’ll better understand exactly what you’re looking for.

      Canadians can arrange an e-consultation with Julie Chang by scheduling an online or phone appointment through the telehealth platform .

      Follow Tia Health on , and  for updates.

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