Some of the most eligible singles suffer from first date anxiety. They clam up and fail miserably in the moment. It’s not unusual to get feedback that the successful, intelligent, adventurous spirit we sent out on the match isn’t the person who actually showed up on date night. And, well, that’s just frustrating for all of us involved.
We recognize that the confusing mix of emotions and expectations you may feel meeting someone new can stir first date anxiety. Maybe you think the person is out of your league. Or perhaps they check all of your boxes on paper and you’re anticipating that This. Is. The. One.
That internal turmoil can manifest in embarrassing ways – profuse sweating, dry mouth, talking too fast or too much, frequent trips to the bathroom. These physical symptoms will compound the feelings of anxiety and can easily shatter your first date confidence.
So as matchmakers, we do a lot of coaching around showing up your best self on a first date.
One truth of first dates: whether or not you show up with confidence can make or break the experience. So, let’s build your dating confidence.
Recognizing socially awkward behaviors is an important part of relieving you from first date anxiety. If we’re paying attention, many of us notice when we’ve put our proverbial foot in our mouth or that we’ve picked up on a subtle social cue a little too late. When we notice, we can playfully course correct.
Unfortunately, some simply don’t notice.
So, let’s explore typical first date red flag behaviors that can jeopardize your chances for a second date.
Uncomfortably Calculated Communication
Matchmaker Cathy Lewis warns, “Your first date is not a job interview so don’t act like it is. Formal, rehearsed questions can make you seem too rigid to be fun. Try lively, open-ended questions that feel less formal, but that still give you insight into your date’s personality and values.”
If your date seems too good to be true it isn’t your job to find something wrong with them. Fishing for negatives is not only unattractive but can come off as “negging” your date.
Matchmaker Nahla Grafer explains, “The best perspective to develop going into a first date is, ‘This could be my person or not, either way, I am going to have fun and make the most of the experience.’ If you really want to relieve the pressure and first date anxiety, I encourage you to go into the date holding no attachments. Decide you’re going to have a good time and be genuine, sincere and happy every step of the way. These are attractive and attracting qualities! And who knows, he or she may be the one. Or they may turn out to be a good friend, business partner, or the person who connects the dots between you and your perfect match.”
Leaning on small talk can increase first date anxiety. It’s attractive to have fun things to talk about on your date and can give you peace of mind knowing that you have some conversational content in your hip pocket. Share stuff you’re looking forward to- maybe a vacation, sporting event, or upcoming concert you’re excited to attend.
Matchmaker Pam Nolen explains, “It’s critical to show you’ve got a full and vibrant life someone wants to experience. So make sure you’re planning and doing exciting things besides going on first dates.”
Avoid keeping your phone out during a dating experience. And make sure it’s silenced. Smartphones are an easy crutch. We pick them up out of habit all day every day, often with no real purpose. It’s too easy to nervously pick up your cell and peruse texts, emails, or social alerts if there’s a lull in the conversation. A good date uses the moment as a time to shift the conversation to a new topic of discussion.
At Kelleher, we’re traditional in our approach to dating and believe the basics of first date manners should be: to arrive on time, be kind and open, avoid complaints and crude language, don’t get intoxicated, and don’t force intimacy.
On the first date, we suggest avoiding potentially polarizing subject matter like religion, politics, plans for children, etc. We also encourage our gentlemen to open doors, pick up the tab, and show respect in words and deeds.
Kelleher International CEO, Amber Kelleher-Andrews suggests, “If you’re guilty of these red flags, I encourage you to identify the source of your first date anxiety. To truly rid yourself of the bad dating habits you must do some self-examination and be willing to have difficult conversations with your matchmaker to help move past it and set yourself up for success.”
If you’re ready for love but know your first date skills need improvement, leave a question for our matchmakers in the comments section below and we’ll share our pro dating tips.