How To Get To Know Someone And Reduce Anxiety On A First Date

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Going on a first date can cause nervousness. You may stress about where to go, what to do, or what to talk about when you meet them or wonder if you'll be compatible. Although getting to know someone new can take time and effort, you can learn a few tips and tricks to break the ice, keep yourself calm and comfortable, and enjoy your date without stress or pressure.

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Tips for getting to know someone on a first date

Below are a few tips to help you ensure your first date is as enjoyable as possible. 

Be yourself

According to a professor at Adelphi University, nervousness before a first date is common, and your date is likely as nervous as you.

There are many possible outcomes to getting to know someone, and a desire for the date to succeed can be overwhelming when you first meet them. In some cases, nervousness may cause an individual to pretend to be someone they aren't, lie about their interests, or hide certain personality traits. Nervousness can cause rambling, fast-talking, shaking, stuttering, and other behaviors your date might pick up on.  

Before going on a first date, commit to being yourself. It might be tempting to pretend to be someone else if you like the person and are afraid of rejection. Although being yourself can put you in a vulnerable position, it may also open you up to meeting people with similar interests. 

Your date agreed to go on a first date with you, and they may want to get to know who you are in your daily life. If you start with lies or avoiding certain parts of yourself, those details may come up later. Being open and honest can help your date feel comfortable being open to you in return, reducing pressure to perform.

Prepare for and understand rejection 

Rejection sensitivity occurs when an individual experiences intense emotion after being rejected. They might feel angry, heartbroken, or fearful in response. If you struggle to cope with rejection in any area of your life, preparing for rejection during a first date may be beneficial and allow you to go into it without expectations for the future. 

Dating is often a way for individuals to meet potential partners or find people to have close connections with. However, incompatibility, disinterest, mismatching interests, and other challenges can occur on a date. If you go on a date expecting the connection to lead to love or marriage, you may experience rejection sensitivity if your date lets you know they're not interested in another date.  

Try to approach dating open-mindedly, accepting that not everyone you meet may be a match. In addition, learn about sexual and physical consent and ensure you know how to accept "no" if a partner doesn't want to partake in certain activities on the date. By preparing for the possibility of rejection, you may reduce nervousness on your first date and enjoy your time with the individual, regardless of the outcome. 

If you're looking for a particular type of connection before a date, let the individual know what you're seeking before you meet them. If they're not interested, they can let you know, which can also reduce the chances of rejection sensitivity or fear.


Checking in can help gauge the comfort and quality of the time you both are spending together. Check in with yourself and your date throughout your time together to ensure you are both enjoying the energy and are able to continue the date. To check in with your date, you may use the following techniques.

Ask them 

At some point toward the middle of the date, you can ask politely if your date is enjoying themselves. However, ask only one time, as asking more than once may come off as reassurance-seeking and pressuring. If you don't want to ask, you can let your date know you're enjoying yourself and want the date to continue. If they're interested, they may respond similarly. 

Pay attention to body language

Pay attention to your date's body language. Body language can indicate interest and help you determine your date's comfort. Common signs that your date is comfortable may include:

  • Maintaining eye contact

  • Staying engaged in conversation 

  • Keeping arms and palms open and relaxed

  • Smiling, laughing, nodding

  • Asking and responding to questions

  • Remaining focused on the conversation 

  • Leaning toward you, if you're sitting across from each other 

  • Sitting or standing close to you 

  • Light consensual touches

The behaviors above can also be used to communicate to your date that you're enjoying their company. Communication through body language can strengthen any verbal flirtation or emotional connection, as well.

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Ask questions

To get to know your date and their interests, ask questions. Below are a few tips for asking questions: 

  • Ask open-ended questions requiring more than a yes or no response.

  • Ask questions that seek details. Using "who," "what," "when," "where," "Why," and "How" may express genuine interest and keep the conversation flowing.

  • Try not to be too personal on the first date. 

You can also consider starting conversations on the following topics: 

  • Where each of you grew up

  • Your common interests and hobbies

  • Your date's career aspirations or dreams

  • Whether either of you is musical or artistic

  • Any projects you've been working on lately

  • Whether each of you has pets

  • Family and friends

  • College experience

  • Your proudest accomplishments 

You can also ask the following first-date questions to get the conversation started:  

  • What do you look for in a partner?

  • Which of the following types of intelligence do you value most: logical and mathematical, social and interpersonal, or visual and artistic? 

  • What's an unpopular opinion you have?

  • What activities do you do in your free time?

  • Have you gone on any recent vacations?

  • Do you answer work emails on the weekend? 

  • Do you like to travel? 

  • Is it necessary that your partner practices the same religion as you?

  • How would you feel if your partner earned more money than you? 

  • Have you attended a protest march? 

  • Do you meditate?

  • How often do you talk to your parents? 

  • Do you speak more than one language?

  • Which word describes you better: carefree or intense? 

  • Do you believe in astrology? 

  • Do you have a religion or spiritual belief? 

  • Do you smoke? 

  • Are you jealous in a relationship?

  • Do you like scary movies? 

  • What is your favorite holiday?

You can ask hundreds of questions, so consider making a list of questions and practicing them on your own before the date if you're nervous about not knowing what to say. Note that your date may also ask you questions, so you may not be required to carry the conversation entirely on your own. 

If a silent moment comes up during your date, compliment your date. For example, you could say, "Your bracelet is beautiful; is there a story behind it?" You can also compliment tattoos, jewelry, piercings, clothing, or physical attributes like someone's smile. You can also prepare ice-breaker questions beforehand to use if the silence continues. 

Counseling options 

Suppose you want more help connecting to potential partners on a date. In that case, a licensed counselor may be able to guide you in understanding social connections and starting any romantic or sexual relationship with another person. If you have social anxiety or are worried about meeting a therapist in person, you can also consider online therapy. 

An increasing amount of research points to online therapy as a valuable treatment method for those experiencing difficulty connecting with others due to mental health issues. For example, in one study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the effects of online therapy on symptoms of social anxiety were examined. 

The study was a five-year follow-up of 80 individuals who had previously undergone an online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment for social anxiety disorder. Researchers noted that the improvements participants had experienced after treatment were sustained after five years and concluded that online therapy could produce "large and enduring effects." These findings are consistent with several similar studies that concluded that online counseling could help manage symptoms of an array of mental health issues.

Online therapy is often an effective tool for those seeking help with social interactions. With online therapy through an online platform like BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed counselor via videoconference, messaging, live chat, or voice call from the comfort of your home or wherever you have an internet connection. 


At times, it can be beneficial to have extra support to get through a date. If you are nervous or struggle with dating, consider talking to a professional. A licensed professional can help you learn new ways to address such situations to reduce nervousness and help you make dating a positive experience.
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