Enjoying a nice glass of wine to soothe down first date jitters is totally fine, but if you're a big ball of stress before every "nice to meet you" then it's time to change some things. There are ways to make dating fun, not stressful, and they all revolve on your mindset going in. While a lot of people have daydreams about finding their very own Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan in the rom-com that is the dating world, if you come in expecting cartoon hearts to hit your eyes with every date you have, things are going to be a little rocky for you.
And that's not because it's impossible to find love — it's because that's way too much pressure! Dates are meant to be fun activities. For example, you meet a handsome stranger at a cool bar you've been dying to try, and you get to listen to stories as you nibble away on appetizers. It's a way to make new friends, explore your city, and maybe find a catch that you can write about in your diary later that week. Below are 11 tips on how to make dating fun and not stressful — enjoy your time out!
1. Do Something You've Wanted To Do Anyway
Was there a new bar you've been dying to peek into? Or a stand-up show you've heard amazing things about? Use your date as an excuse to go try it out, pushing you to get outside of your apartment in more ways than one. Dating industry expert Charly Lester shares in an email with Bustle, "That way you don't feel like you're wasting your time if you don't end up feeling a connection with the other person. Lots of people describe 'bad dates' based on whether they fancy the other person or not, but if you arrange to do something fun you can end up having a good time, regardless of whether you're attracted to your date or not." In the end you'll have a wonderful evening, regardless if you get a goodbye kiss.
2. Don't Make It About Being Desired
While knowing the person across from you thinks you're a hot tamale is great, don't make the date about earning their approval or desire. Samantha Burns, Licensed Counselor and Dating Coach, shares with Bustle via email, "Remember that your date needs to fit comfortably into your life. Instead of getting caught up in wanting to be desired, take a mental step back and ask yourself if you even like the person sitting across from you. If you’re too caught up in seeking validation, you’re likely to be disingenuous and create a superficial connection." So instead of putting on a perfect persona, cut the stress out and enjoy their stories and share some of your own. It doesn't have to be an interview!
3. Try Not Sitting Face To Face
Ever get the notion that a date feels too intense and you just want to press the "BAIL" button? If you get wigged out easily with new strangers, try not to sit face to face. "If you go for drinks or dinner it can end up feeling like an interview. Instead, do something active, where you're walking around, side by side. Conversation will feel more natural, you aren't forced to gaze into a stranger's eyes, and you're surrounded by loads of natural distractions," Lester points out. It'll make the situation feel more casual and less stressful.
4. Don't Take Rejection So Hard
While it's not fun being denied a second date, it doesn't really have a meaning when it comes to your self worth. "The truth is that not everyone will be attracted to you, but on the flip side you won’t be attracted to all of your dates either," Burns points out. Clicking with someone is like the perfect storm: A lot of things have to come together to make it work. So don't take it as a crushing blow if your storm didn't quite manage to hit the scales; you're still a babe of a catch.
5. Meet Up With A Pal Beforehand
If you get nervous easily prior to a date, meet up with a friend for drinks beforehand so they can remind you how amazing you are to hang out with. "Have a quick drink with a mate before the date so you relax, and act more like your normal self. A good friend will remind you what a catch you are, and put things into perspective," Lester reccommends. Also, a little wine never hurts a situation.
6. Call It A Date When You Make It
If you want that romantic, rom-com-perfect first date, then call it a friggin' date. If you just want to spend some time with someone you can see yourself buying tablecloths with in the distant future, call it a date. Heck, if you just want to know where you stand with the person right from the beginning, call it a date. Skip the mind games that make things awkward and stressful and be direct. Relationship Coach Jordan Gray explained, "If you are honest with yourself and your date about what your intentions are then you can leave all of the brain-clogging 'Is this a date? Is this not a date?' talk for your former self." Preach it, brother.
7. Talk To More Than One Person At A Time
That's right, you're going to juggle multiple love interests — but it's not as deceiving as it sounds. "Dating these days is a bit of a numbers game, but you can use that to your advantage. In the early stages, talk to more than one person at a time so that you don't dwell on one person too much, and read into messages unnecessarily," Lester advises. The key point here is that you do it during the beginning stages, not when things turn ~exclusive.~ That way you won't feel the urge to rush things or become obssessive.
8. Have Upgrade And Downgrade Plans
Having a concrete plan takes the stress out of a date, so take it a step further: Have a blueprint for if your date is a total dud as well as a total winner. "Have a plan, have back up plans, and have alternate plans. Depending on how well you and your date get along, you will want to have the ability to upgrade or downgrade your date at any time," Gray offered. For example, if you're not vibing with the person, promise to cut your time off after the first drink. Or if they're amazing, have an art show or fun taco bar in your back pocket to go to after the first venue. You'll feel more in control if you're so prepared.
9. Make The Focus You, Not Love
Dating will teach you a lot about yourself, so use it as an excercise to learn more about who you are and what you like. "Take a moment to take a step back and watch yourself on the dates. What do you enjoy talking about? What things make you genuinely happy? What things do you want to improve on? The great part about dating is that you are meeting strangers and you can be whoever you like with those people, so don't be afraid to experiment a bit with the way you choose to showcase who you are," Lester shares. You might become more in touch with yourself and what you value and enjoy after the whole process.
10. Make Your Day Amazing Before Your Evening Out
To get your mindset into the right place, practice mindfulness the day of your date. "Do whatever it takes for you to be in a good headspace. If you drag yourself through a listless and boring day then you will carry that unattractive energy into your date," Gray pointed out. Do things that will make you feel confident and happy with yourself, from ticking off goals to sprucing up a favorite outfit.
11. Stop Seeing Breakups As Failures
You might feel "blah" after a breakup or a phase-out, but don't take it so personally. "Ideally you will wind up with just one person for the long run, so instead of viewing everything else as a failure, reframe your experiences as love lessons from which to learn and grow," Burns puts into perspective. In the end you have a chance to take stock of what you could compromise over next time, what will now be a deal breaker, and what you liked or disliked about both you in a relationship and the other person. Breaking up in no way makes you a loser — it just makes you smarter for the next round.
So get into the game; it's fun!
Images: @abeautifulmess/ Instagram