What To Do After: First Date Jitter

By Corrina Horne |Updated July 12, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

First dates can be exciting, overwhelming, and terrifying all at once. Even if you are familiar with the person you are dating, a first date can encourage plenty of jitters and concerns: will you have enough to talk about? Will there be a second date? What if you don't hit it off at all? Should you cancel to rule out anything bad happening?

The minutes and hours following your first date can be similarly alarming; once the date is over, do you keep your distance and wait for a follow-up? If it didn't go well, do you let your date know immediately? The time following a first date can be extremely important for a fledgling relationship and can either create enormous amounts of anxiety for you or set your mind at ease. What exactly should you do following the first date?

Evaluating Your Experience

First Dates Are Both Exciting And Nerve-Racking
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One of the best things to do following the first date is to evaluate your experience. Although it can be tempting to comb through every single aspect of your conversation during your date and all the cues you think you may have noticed, this can create even more anxiety and might produce an uncomfortable, unfortunate loop. Instead of focusing on the things you cannot know and cannot control, take some time to think about how you felt on your date.

While you were with your date, did you enjoy your time? Did you feel listened to, excited, and at ease? Although spending time with a veritable stranger can initially be awkward, uncomfortable, or unsettling if your date did not make space for you to speak or did not put you at ease with positive body language and a welcoming attitude, these could be indications that the date did not go well.

Your date's experience is extremely important; before deciding on how to proceed, allow yourself to dig deep and determine what it is that you want to do. If you were uncomfortable but feel obligated to contact your date or go on another outing, that is a definite red flag. If you feel pressured in any way, that is also a red flag. Conversely, if you feel excited (though still, perhaps, nervous), and you enjoyed your time, this is a positive sign. Make sure you listen to yourself and your needs.

If you decide that you are not comfortable going on a second date, let your date know as soon as you do after taking the time to evaluate how you feel. Just as it is irresponsible and unkind to intentionally leave someone in the dark about positive emotions, ghosting and similar behaviors are not mature or reasonable ways to let a date know that you are not interested. Instead, direct and simple communication is ideal. You can call your date or even send a quick text that thanking them for taking the time to go out, but lets them know that you will not be going on a second date.

If you felt in any way unsafe or deeply uncomfortable on your date, and you do not feel safe reaching out to your date again, your safety and comfort take precedence. In these cases, simply not reaching out to your date again might be the best course forward.

Suppose you want another date, great! The protocol is extremely similar: communicate! Reach out to your date with a text or a call, thank them for your date, and express your desire to have a second date. This does not have to be particularly effusive or over-the-top; simply saying "thank you" and "I'd like to see you again" will likely suffice.

If your date does not respond after you've reached out, that is okay, too. You can wait for another response, try again in a day or two, or chalk up your date to a lovely experience and move on from the idea of a new relationship.

Gauging Your Date's Reactions

Your date behaved during your time together can offer you a small window into how compatible the two of you are. This can be an important component in making your decision, as you do want to take the likelihood of your partnership working well into account. Although quick flings can be fun, they can also be painful for one or both parties, and making sure that you and your date are both happy, comfortable, and emotionally safe is the best course of action.

If your date was happily engaging you in conversation, asked a lot about your life, and was using language that suggested additional meetings, the odds are that he or she was having just as a great a time as you. If your date seemed sour, uncomfortable, or unusually quiet, that could indicate that your date is not excited at the prospect of another date.

Evaluating your date's behavior-based entirely upon what you observed versus what you imagine is pivotal when trying to glean a sense of whether your date is interested in the possibility of a relationship with you. The human imagination is a wonderful thing, but it can get in the way of happiness and comfort when relationships are involved, as the human imagination can turn the smallest of interactions into a declaration of love or a declaration of hate. Avoid your imagination and focus on observable facts and behaviors.

Consider Timing

If you are still unsure about your date and whether you want a second, take a few days to figure it out. You don't have to immediately reach out to your date; instead, wait to reach out until you know what you want. If you are uncertain, you can wind up making a decision you'll regret, and you could wind up hurting the person you're considering. Instead, consider the amount of time it takes you to be yourself in a relationship, and understand that your date might be experiencing a warming-up period, too. People can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to relax and show their colors to the people around them, so if you are unsure (and don't feel a definite "no" regarding your date), give it some time.

Be True To Yourself

First Dates Are Both Exciting And Nerve-Racking

Rather than combing through Cosmopolitan archives to figure out what to do, be honest with yourself and honest with your date. If you believe that men and women are equal partners in a relationship deciding to buck gender roles, it would be disingenuous to behave as though you are a damsel waiting to be rescued. If you prefer a confident and take-charge woman in her approach, allow your date to pursue you first.

There are bound to be communication hiccups in any relationship, but do your best to be honest and straightforward about who you are and what you want. You do not have to tell your date that you want to be married within the next two years, and want between 3 and 6 children on your first date, as this type of information can be overwhelming. Still, you will both go into the relationship better equipped if you are honest about your wants and needs. If you are looking for an actual relationship, let your date know. If you are hoping for something laid back and low key, without a formal definition, this is great information to communicate, too.

Although a first date can feel something like an interview or an audition, treating it this way can mean playing a dangerous game, by creating unrealistic expectations for both of you; your date might anticipate certain behaviors and ideas that you do not actually possess or indulge, and you might expect certain reactions from him or her that are based on false perceptions.

Anxiety And The First Date

Most people experience at least a little bit of first date anxiety. Whether you've known your date for years, or you are going out with a practical stranger, there is bound to be some amount of anxiety involved. A first date can feel as intense and overwhelming as an audition or an interview and is something of both: you are testing the waters to determine whether you and someone else are initially compatible, presumably to be followed up with additional compatibility tests. Despite the pressure often associated with first dates, they do not have to be the be-all, end-all of a relationship. More than the date itself, your feelings and opinions about your date and time together matter in pursuing a relationship.

If you find that your anxiety is overwhelming or seems to be progressing past the point of typical anxious behavior, you may be able to benefit from a meeting or session with a therapist or counselor. While some amount of anxiety is expected in this kind of situation, overwhelming fear, terror, feelings of doom, or feeling paralyzed due to anxiety are reactions that might warrant further investigation and additional outside help.

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