Dating can be scary, particularly with the advent of "new" ways of meeting people (ie. online dating), which are really just like old ways of meeting people without the benefit of screening!  Here are some tried and true methods to make dating less scary AND more effective:
  1. Keep it casual: don't make dinner or weekend plans for a first date... a casual drink after work or a weekend brunch is a more relaxed and less stressful venue to meet someone new.  Once you have connected you can always make dinner plans for your second or third date.
  2. One step at a time: try to avoid thinking too much about the long term implications of a successful first date... the truth is, you likely won't know on a first date if someone is your perfect match or not.  Look at a first date simply as a chance to meet someone new and interesting... if the chemistry is there, it will be there regardless.  Focusing on having fun on your date will only increase the chances of chemistry being there.
  3. Broadening your circle: looking at dating as a means to widen your social circle, in addition to finding your perfect match, can help take the pressure off a first date and keep you open to making a new friends on those occasions when the chemistry isn't there.
  4. Be safe if dating online: if you choose to go the online dating route, be sure to follow the generally accepted safety procedures when meeting someone online... ie. meeting in public places during daylight hours, not sharing too much personally identifying information, etc., etc.
  5. Hire a professional: if you don't have a lot of time to waste on bad dates, and if you are particularly focused on meeting qualified matches, then join a service that screens the matches for you in person.  Professional matchmakers have been around forever for a reason... they work.