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Calm Those Pre-Date Jitters


Let’s tackle a way-too-common dating worry: Nerves. Here, expert advice on being cool and confident.

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

ou know the drill: It’s time to head off to that coffee shop or cute little tapas bar on the first of what (you hope) will be many dates with someone special. You thought you were fine, and even looking forward to meeting this person. But then the nerves take hold and whoa... your heart is racing, your upper lip gets sweaty and you’re stammering.

If you can relate, help is here. We’re going to teach you how to overcome this common problem. We’ve rounded up advice from experts who are veritable gurus at teaching people how to stay calm in nerve-racking situations. Try their tips and put your best dating foot forward.

Keep your perspective
“The first and most important step in overcoming the fear is to put your first date in perspective: This is not an appointment with the dentist or brain
Put your first date in perspective: This is not an appointment with the dentist; it is a conversation with another person.
surgeon who may inflict pain. It is a conversation with another person. The worst thing that can happen is you won’t connect with the person sitting across from you—hardly the end of the world! Second, think of this date as a two-way process. You are interviewing a potential girlfriend/boyfriend as much as they are interviewing you. Is there a good fit here? What looks good on the surface or on paper may not be what it appears for either party. Investigate whether this person is a good person for you and whether you want to invest a significant part of your life and energy in future dates.”
—Troy Saviola, recruiter for NBC Universal

Breathe deeply
“Here is a simple but amazingly powerful breathing technique you can easily do to manage stress while sitting in the car or on the train before a date. Breathing through the nose only, inhale to the count of three and exhale to the count of six. It only takes about two or three minutes to experience a noticeable full-body chill. The reason? Deep breathing triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the ‘fight or flight’ response that underlies your jitters and results in shallow breathing. And, if during the date you feel yourself getting nervous again, ask an open-ended question like ‘So, what’s working at a college really like?’ and then put a soft smile on your face, while you breathe the shakes away!”
—Jonathan Fields, founder of Sonic Yoga

Concentrate on the present
“Dating is like auditioning—the stakes are high and therefore nerves will undoubtedly come into play. I would tell daters the same thing I tell my actors: When you get nervous, put your concentration into the present moment instead of the outcome. Every time you start to think about the future—like “Will this person ask me out on a second date?”—force
Work out before your date—you’ll feel more confident about your appearance and release the tension from your muscles.
yourself to focus on the conversation at hand. You stand a better chance of booking another date if you can let them see the type of person you really are and that you’d be easy to get along with. You can’t do that if you’re draining your own energy trying to figure out what they want and what the result will be.”
—Andy Gale, Broadway acting coach

Work up a sweat
“Work out first. You’ll have a positive feeling from the endorphins, you’ll feel more confident about your appearance, and you’ll have released the tension from your muscles. Or, instead of going right to the date from your office or home, socialize first, whether meeting a friend or otherwise being in a situation in which you’re turning on your most positive personality. Doing this will make you enter the date already feeling engaging and ‘up.’ Just do not talk about the upcoming date while you’re socializing because that will put your mind back on the subject and could make you nervous all over again.
—Ron Geraci, New York City-based online dating coach

Focus on the positive
“Divide a sheet of paper in half. On the left side of the page, write down how your critical inner voices or negative thoughts are undermining your self-confidence. Write them down as though you are talking to yourself, for example, “Don’t get too excited about this date. He/she is not going to find you attractive enough.” Next, on the right hand side of the page, write down a more realistic or congenial statement about yourself. “I may not be a supermodel, but I have good features and a sense of humor.” Decide which of these more positive, realistic statements you will act on before your date. They reflect the real you.”
—Robert Firestone, Ph. D, author of Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships


Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a writer in New York City who calms her first-date jitters by dancing around her apartment to passionate Latin music in 3-inch heels.
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