Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people. After all, you could be meeting your future spouse. It can also be a very vulnerable experience. The whole point of dating (usually) is to get to know someone else on an intimate level, or at least beginning this process. For whatever reason, and there are many, most people want to make a good first impression. At the very least, most people want to avoid rejection. Dating is a prime opportunity for this by its very nature. Whether you're looking for a fun night out or a long term relationship, rejection can occur either way, and it can be difficult to deal with. Self-doubt can come in many forms, from questioning one's intelligence and one's looks to one's ability to tell a good joke. Dating puts it all out there.
How can you increase your confidence when it comes to dating? There are a few things you can do, and certain methods are more appropriate for some people than others.
First Things First
A date is just a date. It is not the rest of your life. Yes, you may meet your future spouse, but this is far beyond the scope of the date. At this point, no matter how desperate you are to wanting to finally settle down, focus only on the date. Putting more pressure on it makes it harder for both of you. The other person is likely to sense your "desperation" (for lack of a better word), and you end up putting way to much pressure on yourself. Instead, try focusing on the date itself, not where it may or may not lead. Enjoy the time together, or, if you don't, try to avoid blaming yourself and going into the litany of self-talk that tries to convince you that you're not worth dating, you'll never find someone, and that you'll be single for the rest of your life.
Just Be Yourself
Yes, you've heard it many times before, and there's a good reason for it. If you do hit it off with the other person, it's best if this happens when you're being true to yourself. If you're "faking" it, you're then faced with coming forward and facing humiliation, rejection, or both, or continuing the facade. This takes a lot of effort, it's dishonest, and you can't keep it up for very long anyway. So whatever your faults, try not to hide them too much. This doesn't mean that you put them all out on the table on the first date, but it also means that you don't go to extreme measures trying to hide them or pretending to be something or someone you're not.
Step Outside Yourself
To help deal with your insecurities about yourself, try focusing on the other person. Show a genuine interest in what he or she has to say. Be honest and courteous in your responses. Let the other person have the spotlight. Not only does this help keep you from focusing on your insecurities, it also helps accomplish what dates are meant to do–get to know someone else better. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and then ask more. Talk about common interests when you find them. Above all, try to avoid talking about yourself the whole time or worrying too much about how you look, what you're saying, and what type of impression you're making.
Try Something Different
If the idea of sitting through a quiet dinner with someone you barely know makes you break out into a sweat, consider dating activities that involve a bit more involvement. Take a tour through a garden, go rollerblading, or do some other activity that keeps you moving. If you have something to do, you can focus less on feeling awkward and more on the conversation. It helps keep the atmosphere lighter as well, which can make you both feel more comfortable and confident.