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Many people come to therapy feeling nervous about an upcoming second date. They ask questions like:
- “We texted less frequently. Should I be worried?”
- “What if I run out of things to talk about?” »
- “And if there is no third date?” »
- “Do they expect me to go out?”
These are all valid questions, but ruminating on them can make you forget the big picture.
You’ve already cleared the first hurdle: getting past the first date is a clear sign that there’s romantic potential. A second date is an incredible opportunity to turn a spark into a flame.
Here are three ways to keep second-date anxiety at bay and put your best foot forward.
1. Understand that nerves go both ways.
You could argue that a second date is the real first date.
Yes, maybe you learned their last name and what their favorite dish is. But a drink and a few hours with someone doesn’t mean you know them. You simply assessed them and saw signs of potential.
The stakes are higher on a second date because there is genuine romantic intent this time. The superficial questions to get to know you have probably run out. Now you are trying to figure out how they might fit into your life. You will want to know things like:
- Does this person understand and respect my values?
- Does this person stand by what they said on our first date?
- Does this person seem to fit into my social circle?
Since these are deep and difficult questions, it is likely that the other person is also nervous about exposing themselves.
The best thing to do is to distract from your own anxiety and help your date feel comfortable expressing who they really are. Hopefully they will return the favor.
It’s a two bird, one stone situation: Keep your own anxiety in check to create an atmosphere in which you can more accurately judge romantic potential.
2. Choose experiences over expectations.
The activity you choose for your first date doesn’t necessarily say a lot about who you are. Most people have their first dates somewhere neutral like a local bar or coffee shop.
Now that you’ve connected with your date rather than shared interests, pick an activity for the second that you’ll both feel comfortable doing.
Do you both love being outdoors? Go hiking. Did you bond with your common passion for dance? Take a bachata class together.
Of course, a second date is a chance to get serious about pursuing someone romantically. But that doesn’t mean you have to go through a list of deep questions and high romance expectations. Remember to enjoy the little moments and have fun together. Focus on how they make you feel. You learn a lot more about someone from what they do than from what they say.
3. Know that you are the trap.
There is no getting around the fact that love rejection hurts. But don’t let negative feelings from past rejections dominate your love for yourself.
Ultimately, the outcome of the second date (whatever it is) doesn’t define you.
None of your accomplishments, strengths, and experiences will be undone if someone you find attractive fails to follow through. Similarly, a successful second date does not imply that you have found “the one” and can now remove yourself from the dating pool.
If you’re feeling anxious before a second date, make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Read it out loud and understand that no matter what happens after the date, all of these things will remain true. This will give you a boost of confidence and dispel any anxiety you may be feeling.
As an added benefit, confidence is a trait your date will find attractive.
You’re not the only one feeling nervous before a second date. Most people think that way, including your date. If you’ve planned a fun activity and understand that your self-esteem isn’t dependent on whether or not you may or may not receive romantic validation from someone else, you can beat second-date anxiety. Of course, if you’re unable to function normally due to second-date anxiety, there may be underlying issues that a mental health professional can help you address.