Most singletons find first dates 'more nerve-wracking than public speaking'

First dates are a heady mixture of excitement and nerves, with what feels like everything to play for – especially if you already know you’re really into the person you’re about to go on a date with.

Now, a survey has been conducted to try and quantify exactly how stressful we think first dates really are, and the findings indicate UK singles can get pretty anxious about them.

eharmony has partnered with Married at First Sight UK relationship expert Mel Schilling to conduct a study of 2,000 people that found two-thirds (64%) of singles say they get first date nerves, while six in 10 (61%) find first dates more stressful than public speaking.

Of the 2,000 respondents, 59% feel first dates are more stressful than a job interview, and 58% think they’re more nerve-wracking than money worries.

On average, the anxiety hits its peak just under 42 hours before the date, and for 15%, the hour right before the first date is the worst.

As for where these nerves seem to be coming from, close to half (47%) of survey-takers cited a lack of confidence.

Meanwhile, fear of rejection (27%), physical appearance (19%), and feeling ‘out of practice’ (19%) also topped the list of stress-inducing concerns.

When it comes to fighting this stress, a third of respondents opt for pre-date rituals like listening to music (16%) or working out (8%).

However, some opt for less healthy pre-date habits, such as relying on alcohol (8%) or avoiding eating (7%).

Rather than relying on unhealthy crutches, eharmony and Mel have co-created ten dating mantras you say repeat as-needed to give yourself a boost before a date.

Pre-date mantras to say for a pre-date confidence boost

• I deserve a loving, committed, playful relationship

• I am ready for love, in all its messy glory

• I have let go of my old dating patterns

• My past mistakes don’t define me, they strengthen me

• Bad dates make for great stories

• I’m worth so much more than a “hi, how are you?’

• Stop painting red flags green

• My values come from people I love, they matter

• The right person will see my worth

• I’m here to find a partner, not a project

On the subject of the mantras, Mel Schilling said: ‘The past two years have been tough on singles, and though life is slowly returning to normal, many people are feeling the opposite of that as they begin dating again.

‘Our findings show it’s not that people don’t want to find love; they have simply lost confidence in their ability to do so. That’s exactly why we have created these mantras.

‘From tapping into your sexual side, through to letting go of any ex-related baggage, repeat along with me at home and watch those nerves disappear’

It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone in feeling nervy, especially after the lockdowns we’ve been through.

‘Our research suggests that many singles are keen to find meaningful relationships after the pandemic,’ eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd said. ‘However, first date nerves can really put people off taking the plunge.

‘The thing to remember is most people feel nervous before a new date and one way of breaking the ice is to tell your date you’re a bit out of practice and have a sense of humour about it. Dating is like a muscle too, the more you work it, the more confident you’ll become.

‘Mantras are one way of changing the way we perceive ourselves. Reminding ourselves of our worth changes the brain’s perceptions so that we’re kinder to ourselves and more able to navigate challenges.’

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