You’re getting ready for yet another first date, and somehow, the nervousness never lets up! You’re listening to the most upbeat song you can think of (maybe it’s Blink-182’s First Date).
You’re kicking off your fourth outfit and throwing on your fifth because nothing looks right tonight. You’re going through your mental notecards to make sure you have enough conversation points and aren’t faced with that dreaded awkward silence.
Maybe you need to dig into the liquor cabinet before you leave to loosen your nerves, and you’ll probably overanalyze yourself in front of the mirror (glass in hand) until the absolute last minute before you leave the house.
We all have nervous habits we practice while preparing to see someone for the first time.
Try to swap those nervous tendencies out for these tips to help you get rid of your first date jitters and get through the date smoothly.
1. Be in your comfort zone. If you are the one responsible for planning the date, take them somewhere you’ve been before and where you know you feel comfortable. Go to your favorite restaurant. Recommend food and drinks and show your date that you are decisive and have your own opinion. If you are a cook, take them to your place (if they are comfortable with that) and cook up your specialty dish. You guys can converse while cooking and let the chemistry flow.
2. Breathe. It may sound cliché, but that’s because it’s true and it works! People often do not realize that when they are nervous or stressed, they forget to breathe. Your date can read this, and some of your nervousness may even rub off on them. If you’re feeling tense just let out a long deep breath and a smile. You’ll feel 90% better.
3. Be honest. A lot of people are so focused on making their date like them that they’ll often say whatever it is they think the other person wants to hear. That gets tricky when the person actually believes you because then you have to keep up the charade or awkwardly come clean.
Neither is a really good way to start off a relationship. There may be things about you that you don’t think the other person will be interested in but you’ll never know if you don’t share those things.
Oscar Wilde famously said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken”.
Don’t try to be like everyone else and tell a cliché story that you think wins everyone over. Be yourself and be honest about it! Your date may appreciate this side of you because it makes you different.
4. Listen and Reciprocate. Genuinely listen to what your date is saying and ask questions to show that you are trying to follow. Reply to what they are saying before you bring in another conversation point.
Don’t wait until they’re done talking and then say something completely off-base. Your date will notice that you’re not interested in what they have to say and feel hesitant to continue speaking. This may be when one of those awkward silences arises.
If you feel that your date is rambling aimlessly on, try to kindly interject with a similar story to show you understand and can relate to keep balance in the conversation. After that, you can change the topic and talk about yourself a little bit, as long as you aren’t narcissistic about it. Give and take is the key to a great conversation.
5. Feel the Vibe. Everyone is different and this can make dating very frustrating. Are you seeing someone who is looking for something serious? Are they only looking to “have fun”? Will they give you a kiss on the first date or will it be on the tenth date? Do they mind if you place a hand on their knee? The best way to answer these questions without asking is by reading the body language of your date.
Generally, if someone is leaning towards you, that means that they are interested in a physical sense; but that doesn’t mean that you should make a definite move. Take it slowly. Start by placing an affectionate hand on their arm while talking. Note if they made a face or let it rock. Read their body language throughout the date. And remember, it’s never a bad thing to ask first.
Though some people prefer when someone is forward and dominant, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially on the first date. So if everything went swimmingly and you really want a kiss goodnight, simply ask: “This has been great. Is it alright if I kiss you?” I’m sure your date will appreciate your respect and manners—just feel it out. This also goes for the opposite direction, of course. If you are leaning toward your date and they are constantly leaning away, this doesn’t mean that your date is shy but perhaps that they crave a bit of personal space.
If someone asks you not to do something, even if they say it with a smile or a laugh, you should stop. Perhaps they are nervous and do not want to offend you. Don’t try to defend yourself or say they’re reading you wrong; simply apologize, stop what made them uncomfortable, and lighten the tension with a bit of banter.
6. Don’t joke around in a self-deprecating way. Saying things like, “well, I guess I just ruined that for myself—classic!” or “I wouldn’t be surprised if you never want to see me again” will make your date feel awkward and pressured to act a certain way.
At the end of your date if you want to know how your date felt and possibly score another one, ask in an honest but non-pressuring type of way. “Hey, I had a great time. I hope you did too. Maybe we can meet again soon for drinks.” Or, “I was pretty nervous tonight, to be honest. But I did enjoy myself and would like to see you again if you’re up for it”.
However your date responds, take it with grace and move on. She says yes: Great, I’ll be in touch. She says no: Oh, that’s too bad…well like I said I had fun, so if you change your mind, shoot me a text. That way, you don’t show too much desperation and you also don’t permanently close any doors. Who knows, maybe they just need a few days to reevaluate the night before they can say how they really feel.
7. Last of all, enjoy yourself. Perhaps nothing is going as you planned. Perhaps you are looking for something serious and your date is not, or vice versa.
Perhaps you met your date online and they look or seem nothing as they advertised. Well, if it’s not an absolute deal-breaker the two of you are on this date together for the time being, so enjoy it. Don’t close yourself off because you’re annoyed at the outcome of things. If nothing happens between the two of you after that day at least you have a great memory or story to hang onto.
There’s no way to ensure that your first date goes 100% smoothly, but if you follow these simple steps you can at least ensure that you and your date are comfortable, have a good time, and maybe even have a second date lined up by the end of it. Good luck!
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