Three loathsome words to someone with Anxiety who is also trying to date: “Let’s grab coffee.”
What seems like a harmless and casual date to most people, feels daunting to people with Anxiety. Grabbing coffee means you have to sit. And talk. And figure out what to do with your hands. And where to look with your eyes. How much eye contact is too much eye contact? What if it’s too loud and you can only hear 20% of the conversation so you spend the entire time fake-nodding and half-yeah’ing? Is it clear by this point…I am not a fan of the “casual coffee date.” Yet this is the go-to date for most first dates. I understand; it’s low-cost, low-stakes, and there’s no pressure to stick around too long if it isn’t going well.
But good lord is it uncomfortable.
I quickly learned that my anxiety didn’t mix well with grabbing coffee. So I had to learn what I could do. This is something we all should figure out for ourselves.
My ideal first date? Going on a walk.
The main reason I love taking walks on first dates is that I don’t have to sit still or stare at the other person. Keeping active allows me to fidget without being noticeable. I don’t have to obsess about making the appropriate amount of eye contact.
I have a friend who likes taking hikes for first dates, but there are too many factors that stress me out. What if he notices how out of shape I am? What if we get lost? What if one of us breaks a bone? And don’t even get me started on bears.
Even when a guy once asked me to get dinner with him I suggested we walk to the restaurant. I needed those twenty minutes to decompress. The walk helped me calm (some of) my nerves.
Give yourself a break and say this out loud: “I don’t have to grab coffee on a first date.”
Make a list of places you feel comfortable. Maybe you love bowling and the physical activity naturally generates conversation for the two of you. Maybe a movie sounds ideal since you only have to talk right before it and right after.
No matter what, give yourself permission to think outside the coffee-box. If your date is cool and wants to hang out with you, they should be game to try something new.
What are some non-coffee first dates you prefer?