We all have a mate that's doing it. Hell, right now I am that mate. And yes. There are plenty of exposed nerves on full display leading up to, during, and especially after that first date. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here's how you can keep your cool and punch above your weight in the dating game.
You might have flaws, but your outfit shouldn't
The first key to confidence for those of us that aren't gifted with Tom Hardy tier genetics is an airtight outfit. Because when that leather jacket is slipped on, best believe the borderline smug Alex Turner charm is being switched on. Opposite of sober swagger and all. Dress to impress but do remember there's a difference between being memorable and being memorable. Know your limitations, what can and cannot be pulled off with your physique and personality, and work with what you've got.
Learn to tell a good story
This has as much to do in the literal sense of conversation as in the sense of expressing who you are with non-verbal cues. In terms of the former, there have been studies that suggest those with better storytelling abilities are deemed more attractive. So that year you spent abroad? Think closely as to how you're going to frame it when it comes up. I'm sure your date wouldn't be all too interested in the pub crawls across Dublin you took on every second day and how that one friend chundered on himself while passed out. Maybe go with an alternate angle, like offering an insight to the broader sense of your experience there before going into detail with your "wild" stories.
And in terms of the latter, keep your body language "open" (crossing of arms is a big no-no), shoulders loose but not slouching, maintain a comfortable amount of eye contact, and don't suppress that $20 smile - this last bit is a big mistake that many make, especially so in their display pictures according to "Tinder experts". It's not uncool to be expressive of your emotions.
Closed mouth, open ears
On the other side of the conversational coin is knowing when to shut up and pay attention. Listen to what your date has to say. Don't just glance past it, wait until they're done talking so you can start talking again. Actively engage with and consider what is being said. Offer counters to their point in a non-hostile way. Provoke further conversation, and keep the momentum going. There's nothing worse than flat chat that you find yourself scrambling to pump some life into. And if you find yourself running out of stuff to talk about, maybe it's time to crack open a few books again. (Extra-curricular homework here.)
Be yourself, but only a palatable amount
The old cliche of just "being yourself" is one that is misinterpreted time and time again. Yes, be authentic and honest, but to a degree which is socially palatable given the context of an early encounter. Yeah, I love depressing memes about substance abuse and having a lack of a will to live most mornings, but I'm sure as shit not going to mention that right off the bat. Work up to your version of that.
You've gotten this far, you can relax a little
They say the key to keeping someone is to never stop trying to win them over, act as though day one hundred is no different to day one in that sense. But people tend to forget that they can relax a little. You're here. They're here. Both for a reason. There's a mutual interest. Try not to over-analyse it. The only thing you should be aiming to prove is that you want to be there. Nothing more. So breathe. You've got this in the bag, champ.