How to extinguish the nerves and ignite the spark on your special night

This is a photo of a couple at a restaurant. The man is on his phone, and the woman with him looks unhappily over to him

Movies and novels of how couples first meet often have that magical sheen to them, and don’t seem to match up with your own experiences of dodgy first encounters in real life. Don’t fret! You are most definitely not alone in having those pre-date night nerves, or feeling the dread and pressure of dining with a total stranger in a restaurant. If you think about all the things you find off-putting on a date, you can deduce the key elements that contribute to a really enjoyable connection, and let sparks fly.


1. Relax

We may be stating the obvious, but worrying too much about how you come across, or whether your chit-chat is going down a storm, means you’re not being present in the moment and enjoying the company. When you let yourself relax, that’s when you’ll find out if you are truly compatible.

2. Ask questions

Showing a genuine interest in your date and what they have to say allows the conversation to flow. Even if you don’t know much about the subject they’re interested in, asking more about it could lead you to a place where you do have common ground.

This is a photo of a happy couple at a restaurant. They are both laughing mid-conversation, holding sandwiches

3. Positive body language

The way you feel towards your date will be very evident from your body language. While you don’t want to overthink anything, noticing when you might be putting barriers up out of nerves can help you to avoid anxiety. Try and remain as natural as you can – the more comfortable you feel, the more this will come across. Avoid crossing your arms. Look to maintain eye contact – that’s where you’ll feel that personal connection starting to grow.

4. Offer to pay

It doesn’t matter what gender you are, how much you earn, or who asked who out – offering to pay is a sign of politeness. No one person’s time is worth more than another’s, and even if you end up doing the cheque-dance and your date decides to pay the bill, at least offering to pay shows you’re generous. Of course, if you had a salad and they ordered three massive courses, perhaps you can suggest splitting the bill.

This is a photo of bubbles being blown, with the first in the shape of a heart.

5. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out

You can have a great first date without wanting to go on a second one. Sometimes the spark just isn’t there. Don’t beat yourself up about it, or over-analyse everything that didn’t go quite as well. Not everyone is compatible. The important thing is to have some fun, and remember that for every date that doesn’t work out, it’ll be easier to recognise a genuine spark and connection when it comes along.

Talking to a life-coach can help address any relationship concerns you might have, and help you find the confidence to work towards your personal goals as well.