"If dating makes you nervous, that's OK."

By Arielle Tschinkel
October 06, 2020
Woman with eyes closed doing prayer position exercise against clear sky
Credit: Getty Images/Cavan Images

Feeling some nerves and butterflies — along with sweaty palms, shaky hands, and a heart rate to rival your favorite cardio blast — before a first date is a pretty universal experience. But 2020 has certainly upped the ante on your classic pre-date nerves, thanks in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic changing the dating landscape in ways few could have ever predicted.

Thankfully, the geniuses at Hinge totally feel you. The dating app partnered with Headspace to release free guided meditations designed specifically to help put your mind at ease before your next date. (ICYMI, Headspace is also offering free subscriptions for the unemployed through the end of the year.)

Narrated by Eve Lewis, Headspace's director of meditation, each guided meditation is around eight minutes apiece, making them ideal for a quick mental health break as you get ready for your date, or even while you're in transit to meet up with your new match.

The first meditation, titled Pre-Date Nerves, begins by reminding listeners that it's totally normal to feel anxious before a date. In fact, pre-date anxiety is usually rooted in a storyline you've created in your mind about what might happen on the date — well before anything actually does happen, narrates Lewis. "[This storyline] means that we are not actually in the present moment or connected with our body," says Lewis. "When we do feel nervous or stressed, we tend to occupy a lot of time in the mind — the what-ifs, and the if-only. In doing this, it just fuels more nerves and more stress."

To help break those negative thought patterns, the Pre-Date Nerves meditation guides listeners through a brief full-body scan. "This meditation is designed to reconnect with our body, to ground ourselves in the present moment, and to let go of the storylines in our mind," explains Lewis. (Julianne Hough is a big fan of body scan meditations, too.)

The second meditation, titled Your Inner Voice, is "designed to help you notice negative or judgmental thoughts and to ultimately help you start to make friends with your mind," explains Lewis.

What does that mean, exactly? By labeling your thoughts and feelings for what they are (a technique called noting), you eliminate the pressure to "clear" your mind, says Lewis. Instead, you simply acknowledge, rather than judge, that your thoughts and feelings are there in your mind, making it easier to bring yourself back to the present moment you're currently experiencing — which hopefully entails a strong connection to the cutie you're meeting on your date. (Related: All the Benefits of Meditation you Should Know About)

If the thought of sitting and meditating before a date feels like just another task to add to your pre-date to-do list, experts actually agree that it's the best way to set yourself up for a successful date, and will even help to minimize awkwardness and disappointment if you don't end up vibing with each other.

Taking just a few minutes to meditate before a first date — whether with Hinge and Headspace's offerings or your own go-to guided meditations — can help prep your mind and heart for the possibility of something truly great coming into your life, and it can even ease feelings of disappointment if your match doesn't turn out to be "the one."

"Being mindful of our thoughts allows us to pivot from negative, pessimistic, worrisome thoughts to positive, optimistic ones that elevate us from feeling anxious or depressed to hopeful and enthusiastic," Sanam Hafeez, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and faculty member at Teachers College, Columbia University, previously told Shape.

Plus, if you stick with the mindful practice beyond that first date, you'll likely gain better clarity in handling your overall dating life. "Mindfulness can help in dealing with trust issues, solving problems as they arise, deepening intimacy, and breaking old patterns of behavior," added Amy Baglan, founder of MeetMindful, a dating app that connects people dedicated to living mindfully. "It doesn't happen overnight, but with work and presence you can experience an expansive shift in your dating life."

Ready to try Hinge and Headspace's guided meditations? You can find them here on Hinge's site. But first: Here's your beginner's guide to meditation, in case you're new to the practice.


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