19 First Date Ideas for People With Social Anxiety

Make first dates fun by doing an activity together.
Getty / Tim Robberts

First date anxiety can be difficult, particularly if you already live with anxiety in other areas of your life. Going on a date with someone new may bring up concerns about being judged and evaluated, as well as jitters about whether you will be able to keep up your end of the conversation or make a good impression.

If you live with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and have managed to meet someone who you feel comfortable going on a date with, you've already taken a significant step toward overcoming your fears. Given that social anxiety is related to difficulties even in established romantic relationships, it's important to recognize that first dates, though exciting, may also be emotionally taxing. However, planning a first date that maximizes your strengths and minimizes anxiety can be helpful.

Dinner and a Movie

While dinner and a movie is the traditional first date choice, it's not the best option if you live with social anxiety. This type of date can be anxiety-provoking as it may focus on aspects that can trigger many of your fears such as making eye contact, keeping a conversation going, and eating in front of someone else.

If you do choose to go for a dinner date, consider going somewhere that will keep you entertained such as make-your-own pizza or Medieval Times. This takes the pressure off of you both as you get to know each other. A fun atmosphere will also help you to relax and laugh at yourself.

Choose an Activity-Based Date

Another good choice is to plan a first date that is activity-based. Activities keep both you and your date busy, give you something to talk about, and bring you closer together. Here are some inspirational first date ideas to get you started:

  • Attend an outdoor concert. Sit on the lawn and listen to good music with your new friend.
  • Attend a comedy show. If you like to laugh, attend a comedy show and try to keep a straight face.
  • Attend a play. Enjoy being an audience member and take in a play. Choose one that suits your mood, or see something unusual that you can talk about afterward.
  • Attend a poetry reading. If you are both into poetry this can be a relaxing choice. Or, choose a book signing event and you will both leave with a memento from your date.
  • Attend a sporting event. Attend a football, baseball, or basketball game. Choose a team to root for together and have fun.
  • Go bowling. Bowling is great for those with a competitive streak. 
  • Go ice skating. Even if you don't know how to ice skate, you can help keep each other from falling down and get some laughs out of it in the process.
  • Go to a festival or carnival. The excitement of the event is sure to keep you both busy without having to worry about awkward silences.
  • Go to the driving range. Hit some golf balls and laugh at the ones that you flub.
  • Go to the planetarium. Look up at the stars together in the dark.
  • Go to the zoo or aquarium. Animal lovers will enjoy spending an afternoon wandering through the local zoo or aquarium. 
  • Race go-carts. You'll soon forget you are anxious when your go-karts start whizzing around the track.
  • Take a cooking class. Learn how to make Thai food or a traditional Italian dish. Take an observational cooking class where you can sit back and sample food that the instructor makes. This setting is helpful for relieving anxiety while still giving you the feeling of going out for dinner.
  • Tour a historical site. Choose a local landmark that you've always wanted to visit.
  • Visit a botanical garden. If you are into gardening, stroll through a botanical garden and talk about the plants.
  • Visit a psychic (just for fun). Get a psychic reading and compare notes. What does the future hold for each of you?
  • Visit a winery. Just be sure to go easy on the wine. People with social anxiety disorder are more prone to abusing alcohol as a way to cope with anxiety.
  • Volunteer together. Work at the local food bank sorting cans for an evening.
  • Walk a dog at the local shelter. Not only will you be enjoying each others' company, but you'll also get exercise and help out an animal in need.

Tips for Managing Social Anxiety

  • Before the date, do some reading and have in mind interesting facts or current events. Having these topics on hand helps to reduce anxiety during silent moments.
  • Decide on a set start and end time for the date to further alleviate your anxiety.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if there are lulls in the conversation. Instead of feeling bad about it, take the opportunity to ask a question about a topic you know the other person is interested in.
  • If anxiety does cause problems, excuse yourself and head to a quiet spot such as the restroom for a few minutes to regroup.

A Word From Verywell

If you live with social anxiety and have not yet received treatment that has enabled you to move forward in areas of your life, including romantic relationships, now is the time to reach out for help. While it can be tough to reach out, treatment can help you feel a lot better. A licensed mental health professional can give you the tools you need to manage your symptoms so you can live your best life.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Porter E, Chambless DL, Keefe JR. Criticism in the romantic relationships of individuals with social anxiety. Behav Ther. 2017;48(4):517-532. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2016.11.002

  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Social anxiety disorder and alcohol use.

Additional Reading

By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.