The pressure to make a good impression, say interesting things and look good on a date can be overwhelming, inhibiting and trigger all kinds of insecurities. But for most people the worry starts after the date, in the uncertain territory of “what happens now…?”

When you get stuck in a loop of rumination and anxiety, it can feel like a real threat when your phone is quiet, you don’t know what the other person feels and you can’t stop overthinking every interaction you’ve had and wonder how much of it sounded stupid or embarrassing… 

As a dating coach I’ve heard all of these worries a myriad of times, and it’s my job to get people out of them. Most of the time it feels much more dramatic than it actually is, and you’re dating worries are probably not very different from most people’s.

To make your dating life less of a mind trap maze, and more of a beautiful adventure, here is your guide to avoid five of the most common traps, so you can stay calm and confident in times of flirty uncertainty.

Mind trap #1: Why aren’t they calling/texting me back?

The hard truth is that it is impossible to answer this question by ruminating on it. The good news is that you can save a lot of time and energy by not even trying. Put away your phone and get busy with life instead.

If your fling reaches out you will notice without keeping an eye glued to your phone, and if they don’t, it’s certainly a waste of time to look at your phone all day.

It’s clear that you want to be with someone who is interested enough and capable of staying in touch with you. The thing is that that’s what most people want, so don’t forget that the phone works both ways.

If you reach out and don’t get a great response (or any response), then you know it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

Mind trap #2: Is s/he interested in me?

The amount of time and energy we spend trying to answer this question is completely overwhelming sometimes. But of course we want to know!

The thing is that this is not something that is up to you to keep track of. If the other person likes you or not is up to them to figure out. It is also up to them to show it to you – it’s not your job to try and decipher it!

Your focus must be on figuring out if you are interested, and then make it clear what you want. When your head gets wrapped up in “do they like me?” turn it around and feel into whether you like them, and if your behavior reflects that in a clear way.

Mind trap #3: Oh crap, I did something embarrassing..!

If you spilled your drink, said something a little too weird or was generally nervous on your date there is a risk that certain scenes from it will be on repeat on your mind’s horror movie theatre forever afterwards.

It can be very painful to feel that you’ve made a fool of your self but it certainly won’t feel less painful when you on top of that blame your self for it. In fact it will only make you feel worse, so try to show yourself the same compassion that you would give to a friend in your situation. Remember that everybody does embarrassing things occasionally, including the person you were on the date with. It’s a very human, common and shared experience and doesn’t make you special at all.

You can also lean on the pratfall effect that states that as long as you give an overall positive impression, a small blunder will in fact make you more appear attractive, not less.

Mind trap #4: Is this the one?

Many of us are occupied with this question already on the first date (or even before the first date!) We try to assess potential parenting abilities, figure out if this would be a good person to build a home with or wonder if you’ll really have anything to talk about when you’re old.

These are completely irrelevant, and even counter productive things to think about in the early stages of dating – not to mention the huge pressure is puts on the other person!

When you are busy with fantasies about the future that only exist in your head you can’t be present with the other person. It makes it impossible to create a genuine connection, and – ironically – that connection is the very thing that will let you know if this is a person worth moving forward with.

All you need to focus on when you meet someone is to be present and have a good time. You are in no way required to have psychic skills that let you see into the future. The only question you need to answer is “do I want to see this person again?” That’s it.  

Mind trap #5: How do I turn them down gently?

Having to turn someone down can be just as difficult as being turned down yourself. The good news is that everyone who goes on a date is very aware of the fact that they could get rejected. They have already accepted that risk by going on the date.

It is not only okay but required that you let someone know if you don’t want to see them again. If it makes you feel like a bad person to turn someone down, you need to remember that it’s much worse to ghost them, keep seeing someone even though you don’t really want to, or try to lie your way out of the situation.

The best strategy is kindness and honesty; tell them it was great meeting them, but it didn’t feel right for you, and wish them the best of luck.