Did you see the recent Channel 4 series ‘The Undateables’ (still available on 4oD)? It followed a group of people with conditions such as Tourette’s, autism, dwarfism and facial disfigurements, on their search for love via matchmaking services and blind dates. I was bowled over by the courage of these young people – first date nerves weren’t the half of it! Their desire for a relationship was strong enough for them to face rejection and ridicule. My word, I thought, if they’re brave enough to give it a go, the rest of us have no excuses!
Nevertheless, many of us struggle with first date nerves, especially if we haven’t been on a date for some time. When I joined the Christian singles scene after the end of a long-term engagement, I hadn’t been on a first date for over a decade. I couldn’t even remember how the whole dating thing worked, and I was pretty sure the rules had changed since I was last single. So I was a bundle of nerves as I trudged off for my first meeting.
However, over time, I became pretty blasé about first dates – although, of course, there was always the hope that this might be the day I hit the jackpot. So here are my top tips for conquering those first date nerves…
*Accept all the dates you’re offered, unless the person is a definite ‘no’. Many people have discovered a hidden gem this way – and as a bonus, the more dates you go on, the less scary they become. This is partly because you get used to them, and partly because you invest less hope and expectation in each one.
*Wear something you know makes you feel confident, attractive and comfortable. A first date is not the time to discover your nice new top rides up embarrassingly, or your shoes give you blisters.
*Keep first meetings short and sweet. I usually arranged to meet for an hour. That way, if it was horribly awkward, I knew I only had to suffer through 60 minutes before escaping – something I was occasionally grateful for! But if it was going swimmingly, we could linger.
*Fake it until you make it! Research shows that feelings often follow actions, not the other way around. So if you smile more and ‘act’ confident, you’ll start to feel it.
*Realise your date is probably as nervous as you. If you focus on putting them at their ease, you’ll find your own nerves start to evaporate.
*Ask lots of questions to keep the conversation flowing. If you’re worried about awkward silences, take a list of conversation starters to refer to (subtly!).
*Pray! Ask God to help you relax enough to enjoy the experience and to assess your date clearly. Desperate mid-date prayers in the loo are quite normal (at least, I hope they are!).
HopefulGirl’s book, ‘Would Like To Meet: The Real-Life Diary Of A 30-Something Christian Woman Looking For Love’, is published by BRF in paperback and Kindle – download your free sampler at www.brfonline.org.uk/hopefulgirl. You can connect with HopefulGirl at www.facebook.com/HopefulGirlUK