A woman sitting on the couch getting ready to relax

15 Ways to Reduce First-Date Nerves

by Jeannie Assimos - March 21, 2014

Nearly everyone feels some nervousness when going on a first date. Your anxiety might be mild or it might be massive. A few—or many–butterflies are bound to appear when you’ll be spending time with someone you don’t know well.

Whatever the case for you, here are 15 ways to ease up, relax, and enjoy that first date:

1. Make a plan. Remove some of the guesswork and uncertainty of a first date by having contingencies in place should the outing not go as planned.

2. Keep it simple. Don’t go looking for extra stress by making plans that depend heavily on the weather, traffic, other people, and so on.

3. Remember, this is only a meet-and-greet. Lower the pressure by keeping your expectations realistic.

4. Choose a time and place that’s comfortable. If Saturday morning lattes at the corner coffeehouse suits you (and your date) better than dinner and theater, go for it.

5. Take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale—it’s an easy, effective way to reduce stress.

6. Do something active. It can be intimidating to sit across a table from someone you don’t know, so consider a bike ride or a walk.

7. Resolve to be yourself. Of course you want to make a good first impression, but throw off all pretense and be who you are.

8. Ride out the lulls. If there are gaps in conversation or if the energy wanes, don’t worry. Dates have their own rhythm of highs and lows.

9. Understand that you have nothing to prove. Your only goal is to be who you are and let the potential relationship unfold as it will.

10. Forget the future. A first date is far too fragile to support expectations of a future relationship. Relax and just be here now.

11. Visualize success. Take a tip from sport psychologists, who instruct athletes to mentally rehearse their optimal performance.

12. Focus on the other person. You’ll think less about yourself if you concentrate on what your date is saying.

13. Get a pep talk from a friend. What are friends if not to bolster your courage and boost your self-esteem?

14. Review your best qualities. There’s no harm in giving yourself a pep talk too. You’ve got assets and abilities—take time to contemplate them.

15. Do a last-minute mirror check. You’ll worry a bit less if you double-check that nothing is on your face, in your teeth, or on your clothes.

What works best for you?