‘I’m very nervous about a date I’m soon to go on.
‘I was with my ex for 15 years and we separated in 2019.
‘We met at university and while all my friends were single and travelling, I was going on holidays with my in-laws.
‘Last summer, I went on some very unsuccessful dates and was so nervous on one, I drank too much and she left early.
‘This new date is with a friend of a friend who asked me out and, although I’m glad I know her already, I feel a new pressure because she knows my friends.
‘Shall I tell her I’m nervous? Is that what a woman wants to hear?‘
There’s nothing wrong with a little discomfort. When something is important to us, we feel nervous about it.
‘What you’re feeling is partly adrenaline, which is your mind and body gearing up for a challenge,’ says James McConnachie. ‘That’s why athletes feel nervous before a race and actors feel nervous before a performance.’
As long as you give yourself permission to feel nervous and don’t fight or run away from the feeling, or attempt to numb it with alcohol, you should see your nerves as a good sign.
‘Admitting to being nervous in a light, fun way is endearing because you’re indicating that this matters to you,’ says Angharad Rudkin.
There’s a certain charm to being open and when we accept who we are, others are drawn to us.
‘Having a quiet confidence is appealing,’ says Rudkin. ‘It means you have a sense of who you are and the belief that you can manage life.’
Still, we sense that the stakes are particularly high for you and, considering your dating experience is so limited, your expectations feel quite inflated.
‘Are you hoping that this date is going to turn into another serious long-term thing or are you terrified that it might and you would be trapped again?’ asks Rupert Smith. ‘Perhaps it’s a bit of both and the conflict between those two feelings is creating the anxiety.’
So we suggest you take some time to reflect on how you feel about your relatively new single status. Can you enjoy the freedom or do you feel like a failure?
‘What do you think drove you into a committed relationship so young?’ asks Smith. ‘Have a think about the attitudes you grew up with and you might get a clue as to what’s making you such a nervous dater.’
When those nerves rise, take big slow breaths and remind yourself of all your accomplishments — including that long-term relationship — and know that you are someone who can manage life. Don’t pretend to be the kind of man you think women want.
‘Be the man you are and let the date take its natural course,’ says McConnachie. ‘In short, be yourself — nerves and all.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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