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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

Whether you are wanting to date casually, or feel comfortable in the space of possible commitment, there’s something almost bittersweet about those anxious feelings before a first date. Experiencing those exciting thills from awaiting the unknown and ultimately the birth pains of what could be your new twisted and entertaining plot of a love life, first dates are simply just a part of being unburdened in your adolescence and twenties. After many disastrous and successful first dates, I feel the following discussion will provide the “big sis” advice you may have never received growing up in the world of dating.

Arguably, downing a few shots in between applying that extra layer of mascara does somewhat help calm that clenching sharp pain your chest. Not to mention the overthinking of every possible detail of if you will greet them either with a rushed awkward hug or a shake of hands like you’re in a business meeting. However, the real preparation for those first dates comes within the level of self-worth you have for yourself. It is not easy to avoid worrying about your appearance or relax about logging in those possible conversation starters in your head, but it takes practice to understand that this is just an opportunity to decipher what you do and do not like in a new suitor.

Most importantly, no matter the outcome of the date, it is never a reflection of your looks or ability to communicate on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, the clammy and shaky hands never subside when stepping off the train to look for a face you’ve only seen on a Bumble profile, but the mental reassurance that everything will be okay improves in time, I promise.

I’ve found that it’s easier to meet up with someone you don’t know much about yet in more casual settings, like a walk around a city/town; popping in and out of shops will give you plenty of conversation starters. Compared to a guy you’ve been chatting to for 2 months online, or maybe in your history class at school, meeting at a restaurant wouldn’t be too bad. Although I still will always have a vendetta against those awkward pauses and eye contact sin between the waitress taking the order and rushing off with the menus. However, some dates have been more successful when there is a clean-ish slate to get the basic key facts about each other out and you can start to detect the compatibility between you, like a coffee date for example. But, if you already know them well, I suggest an activity where there is less intense pressure to stare at each other and force conversation, mini golf is always a good way to assess their competitive side, perfect for throwing in a few flirtatious comments too.

Admittedly, my favourite part about first dates is the debrief I get unload to my eagerly awaiting friends at home, making sure I got home safe and returned the alarm that was shoved in my pocket as I left through the door. Even if the date was a flop, they are always there to pick me up and reassure me on my worth as a single woman. The anxieties of first dates can always be dulled down by those who live vicariously through your messy love life. I even saw a great suggestion on TikTok where you and your friends all set up individual first dates for the same night so you can get ready together and build each other’s confidence up. Then, even if the dates are awful, you have an entertaining late night ahead of spilling all the important details of each other’s evenings to cheer you up (credit to the idea curator is lost forever somewhere deep in my liked page).

The most important thing to remember when navigating first dates in this stage of our lives is that we are young and free when it comes to the world of dating. First dates are just little thrills that make this era of our lives even more memorable. Channel those nerves into self-reflection of how amazing you are and slap the mindless overthinking with a carefree attitude.

Natasha Davey

Bristol '24

Hi, I'm Tash, studying Human Geography at UoB, my writing interests include lifestyle, empowerment and wellbeing. I love photography, music, plants and reading in coffee shops :)