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How to Calm First-Date Nerves — Tips From a Dating Expert

A smiling woman on a date

We’ve all been there: we’ve met (or swiped right on) someone who seems to have their stuff together, ticking off the boxes we think we want in a potential partner. But as we continue through the pandemic, lots of things have changed. Can you approach someone at the bar or event? How do you ask? What’s the first move?

Once that initial chatting phase is done, we’re ready to move into a full-fledged first date, but that’s when the panic can set in. Shannon Tebb, owner of Shanny In The City, a boutique matchmaking and relationship coaching service from Toronto, says that in this new world of dating, things can be stressful.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of Tebb’s tips for keeping calm when you set out for that first date — so you can actually enjoy the experience. 

Related: Single in a seemingly endless pandemic? Try these tips.

Two smiling people holding a bouquet of flowers together

Before your first date: get in the right headspace

Tebb recommends that before you’re even ready for that first date, you need to ensure that you’re absolutely in the right headspace to date at all.

“There’s a lot to consider [with dating],” she says. “How are they putting themselves out there, how are they feeling, are they mentally ready to, you know, create that space for somebody even in their own physical environment?” 

She also says that people of any gender should take the lead on planning dates, but to do so with purpose, which will help avoid those first-date jitters. “It’s about the individual making sure that they are in a good headspace, a good mental space.” In fact, that consideration of being in the right mental space takes us to Tebb’s number-one tip, which is assessing: “Have they recovered through their breakups?” If so, they’re ready. 

“It’s not just about going out to have someone in front of them,” she cautions, and suggests that if you’re newly out of a relationship, take the time to date yourself. 


“I feel like in the dating sphere, oftentimes people forget that being self-sufficient, self-assured, happy — those really are what are attractive,” she says, adding that you need to make sure you’re truly in a good headspace to head out on dates.

You may also like: No wedding date? No problem — how to enjoy wedding season if you’re single.

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Planning and preparation can help cut down on nerves

And if the answer is yes, you’re ready, then it’s time to plan!

Tebb recommends setting aside one or two days a week that you know you’re available to book in dates — but be careful not to ascribe any specifics to potential matches. The matchmaker cautions about rules that have you only setting aside one or two hours for a first-time meetup, or with a specific endgame in mind. 

“I’ve had dates that are five hours, four hours, two hours — it’s about how you two are flowing together,” she says. “Now, if you have another commitment later in that evening, you can address that early — you can let them know, ‘you know, I’d love to have dinner between 7 PM and 10 PM, [but will need to leave] for an early meeting.”

So while it’s not necessarily important to set a limit on the date, what is important is taking control, particularly if you’re feeling nervous about that first meetup.

See also: The 10 cutest spots in Montreal for a first date.

You should plan, Tebb says, for some bars or restaurants, or even venues that you feel safe and comfortable in. Not only does it help you ease your stress, but it can help give you conversation prompts to help avoid the date turning into a job interview. 

“…you have a little bit of knowledge about the food or the drinks, or the physical location or, [whatever], that way, you can bring something to the date experience and be like, ‘Oh, we have to try the escargot! It’s amazing.’” 


Once your location is set, Tebb suggests picking two to three outfits you love, and you know look great on you, but leaving your options open ahead of the date, as you may feel like one outfit feels better day-of. Maybe you love showing off your legs, or you think your bare shoulders look gorgeous — pick clothes that are comfortable, but make you feel sexy. 

Related: How to dress for a first date, according to your zodiac sign.

And speaking of sexy, the matchmaker highly recommends self pleasure ahead of your first date as a way to help get your endorphins flowing, and to help ease tension you might be feeling. “It helps give you a natural glow,” she admits. And who doesn’t love a little glow-up ahead of a first date?

Still nervous? While there is definitely plenty you can do to best prepare, some degree of nerves is likely unavoidable. After all – being nervous could mean that you’re genuinely excited for the romantic possibility that comes along with that first date — and isn’t that part of the fun?

You may also like: Must love dogs? How to date someone who isn’t a ‘pet person.’

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