Going on a first date can be a source of considerable anxiety and concern – at any age. We’re outside our comfort zone on a first date, and we’re often overly concerned about ‘doing the right thing’ and making a good impression.
This article assumes you’ve met someone using an online dating site, and you’re planning a first date. You’ve no doubt been on first dates before, and may have a few ideas about works, and what doesn’t.
But let’s just go over a few points that may make that first date with a new person a more manageable experience.
Point #1 – Be yourself.
Easier said than done, certainly. And of course you quite naturally want to make a good impression. But try not to go overboard and be too much of a ‘try hard’ on that crucial first date. What seems to work best is if you emphasize naturalness, confidence and self-assuredness. This is often difficult. People find confidence attractive, and confidence can come from minimizing anxieties. Which leads us to Point #2.
Point #2 – Plan ahead.
In life we’re generally anxious about things we can’t control. So it might help to plan your date ahead of time. For instance, on a first date I had with a girl I met on a free dating site, I actually visited the restaurant I’d booked the day before the date, and checked out where the various tables were. I spoke with the waiter, who was more than happy to show me the menu, and once he knew I was coming for a first date the following night, he was more than happy to ensure I got the best table, in a quieter corner of the restaurant. I also bought a new shirt for the big night, and generally looked at what entertainment options we could share after the meal. For instance, I checked the newspaper for suitable movies, and where they were showing.
It’s also a good idea to have a few ideas up your sleeve about what to say. Maybe you could talk about your online dating experiences, or something more neutral, like what’s been making the news.
Point #3 – Balance the conversation.
We often tend to talk very fast when we’re nervous, particularly when dating. And so on the first date, it’s important to slow down your speech, and also ensure that you’re not the one who is doing all the talking. Doing that will quickly bore the person you’re with. Try to be a good listener – but balance that with talking about yourself as well. If you’re a guy, listening skills are particularly important. Women notice if you’re listening, or not! By the end of the date, you should ideally have learnt about each other, and also got a sense of whether there’s any ‘spark’ or chemistry between you.
Point # 4 – Plan for follow-up.
If your first date went well, and you want to see the other person again, it’s a good idea to say so. Don’t just leave things unresolved. But on the other hand, don’t apply too much pressure to the other person. Perhaps, in a casual way, you could say ‘I’ve really enjoyed our date and would like to see you again sometime – how about you?’. There’s a chance you may get a negative response, so be prepared for that. You may even get an uncertain response, such as ‘we’ll see’ – which can be very frustrating.
If you don’t want to see someone again, try to express it honestly and thank the person for their time and wish them well. People would generally rather know ‘up front’ how you’re generally feeling, rather than being too circumspect and polite.
Point # 5 – There’s many more options.
If that first date didn’t work out, that’s too bad – at least you gave it your best shot. If you were keen, and the other person wasn’t, it’s easy to feel rejected. This is entirely understandable, but it’s also good to realise that online dating has many more opportunities for you to meet the love of your life. And perhaps you can reconcile the rejection as being a rehearsal for the next first date. As you gain confidence with dating, your assuredness and relaxed manner should make you more attractive to your next date. So long as you’re positive (and not regretful), you’re sure to meet the right one!