by Anna Nash
One of the most common pieces of dating advice is to ‘just relax and be yourself’, and we agree! Other people can sense our inner tensions, and it can make it more difficult to form a meaningful connection. But ‘just relaxing’ before a date is easier said than done, especially if you don’t know your companion very well. There is no single technique that can calm everybody down, but by paying attention to yourself, it’s possible to figure out a pre-date ritual that will work for you.
There are lots of broad things to get anxious about before a date, both in the immediate and longer term: What if they don’t like you? What if you embarrass yourself? What if they do like you and you have to turn them down? What if you fall in love with one another and then it turns out you’re a cat person and they’re a dog person and you are star-crossed lovers, fated to never be together???
Sometimes we can’t help these feelings floating around our heads, but it’s important not to focus on them.
The key is to pinpoint what small, controllable things make you especially anxious and what small, controllable things make you relaxed, or at least can distract you from your thoughts. By combining these pieces of knowledge, you can create a pre-date ritual that will put you in a more comfortable, ready-to-have-fun headspace.
Our Senior Matchmaker, Katja, loves to travel, so if she’s feeling nervous about a date, she imagines that the restaurant she is walking into is a restaurant in Paris, or that the stairs are the stairs of an aeroplane, and that she is on a lovely adventure!
I like to read and I really hate being late, so if I have an appointment that will stress me out, I figure out exactly where I’m going the night before, I organise myself so that I will arrive around 15 minutes early, and I sit and read while I’m waiting to help cool my nerves.
You might have a favourite comedian or song or radio show. Putting it on in your car could be a good way of getting out of your head as you approach the restaurant.
You might have dietary requirements and get flustered trying to order a meal that will work for you. Looking up the menu, or calling ahead to check they can cater to your needs, might be a nice way to pre-empt those concerns.
These rituals don’t address the broader, existential anxieties that a date can trigger (and nothing will), but they can push those thoughts to the back of your mind and make it easier to get into what should be a fun evening, regardless of your eventual fate together.