Online dating is a godsend for the shy person. Now you don’t have to go to some intimidating bar to chat up strangers with your hands shaking and your heart racing. Today you can flirt shamelessly, fearlessly from the comforting safety of your computer.
But eventually, you have to take your online relationship offline, and that’s where many daters get into trouble. They find themselves terrified when faced with a real live person, and a terrified dater does not make the best first impression. Just ask yourself: Would you like to go out with someone who stumbles over his words or can barely look you in the eyes? So how can you keep your nerves from sabotaging your love life?
Consider the following coping strategies for nervous daters:
Shut off the tape recorder in your head.
Everyone has a tape recorder in their head and it starts playing as soon as the date begins. “Will he like me?” “Will he think I’m attractive?” “Will we have anything to talk about?” “What if I say something wrong?” “What if I’m not smart enough?” Listen, forget all the questions, the worries, the random thoughts. You need to turn that tape recorder off if you want your date to go well. As you meet and greet your date, focus only on smiling and being as outgoing as possible. It doesn’t pay to be concerned about what the other person is thinking, because you can’t control what the other person is thinking. Obsessing about the date will only make you more nervous.
Be as confident as you can.
I know it’s hard to be self-confident. We’re not all blessed with supermodel looks or glamorous jobs, but we all have strengths, things that make us feel good about ourselves, and that’s what we need to highlight to feel less nervous on a date. Maybe you are a teacher—that’s a great job to brag about. Or maybe you volunteer—talk about it. Appearance-wise, do whatever it takes to feel good about yourself. Don’t focus on the fact that you need to lose ten pounds or that you are slightly balding. You will neither lose the weight nor grow hair overnight so work with what you have. Remember: Your date agreed to meet you because he already finds you attractive, so you must be pretty cute in his eyes.
Have conversation starters at the ready.
You should never go into a date cold. Don’t count on the other person to run the conversation. She may be even more nervous than you are! Make sure you have some things to talk about so the date rolls smoothly. Read a newspaper before a date and try to think of story topics you can discuss (though stay away from controversial issues like religion and politics). You can also talk about what your job is, hobbies you have, or things you’ve already mentioned in online conversations. Talk about museums or the latest concert you’ve seen. Also, you don’t want to grill your date or make him angry or defensive. And you don’t want to bring up things that are too personal, like old relationships or health issues.
Sometimes our anxiety is deeply rooted and hard to conquer. It may take a psychiatrist or therapist to help you get out of it. Or it could be as simple as doing some deep breathing or meditation or even relaxing in a warm bubble bath before you go out on a date. Getting a handle on extreme social anxiety will go a long way to helping you make a good offline impression.
Remember that the other guy is in the same boat.
Try not to see your date as someone who is judging you, or as the enemy. Chances are, your date is too concerned with his first impression to be overly concerned about yours.
This article was brought to you by the dating experts at OneGoodLove.com, the only online dating site created specifically for the relationship-minded LGBT community. OneGoodLove.com is by the community for the community!