A first date can be exciting. They can also feel like your heart is about to drop into the cavernous depths of your stomach, because first dates are an opportunity to get to know someone new, and meeting new people is terrifying for some.
There is always the fear in the back of our minds when on a first date: what if the person I’m on this date with turns out to be pushy, or a creep, or have whatever nefarious intentions? The truth is sometimes we never really know a person, but first dates can also be rewarding and worthwhile experiences, and we don’t want to always miss out on them because of fear.
1. A Comfortable Location
There are plenty of popular spots normally chosen for a first date. Sometimes people choose to go to a restaurant, cafe, bar, or park. Depending on what we want to get out of this first date and how we want to feel on it, it’s imperative you two agree on a spot where both parties will feel comfortable and safe. Some may prefer a noisy and packed environment that sounds like a Dodgers Stadium (hell, maybe it is Dodgers Stadium), or a quiet and subdued environment like a coffee shop. The preference is entirely yours.
For example, if you don’t want to meet this person alone, a public spot known to be bristling with people is not a bad idea. Some of us might also not want to travel too far on a first date and want the comfort of home nearby, and that is totally understandable. Or we would feel better at a spot farther away from the place where we rest our heads at night. The bottom line is you want to be somewhere you feel grounded and somewhat at peace, and dealing with your nerves will be an easier task if you’re somewhere that helps put you at ease.
2. Think of Questions to Ask
If there is one thing nearly all of humankind is afraid of, it’s the awkward silence over the table on that first date. It’s when you and whoever you happen to be with both fall deathly quiet, and are urgently thinking of ways to fill up the conversation. This is totally normal, and while uncomfortable, not a reason to panic. Panic can cut off the circuits in our brain responsible for coming up with good ideas.
The whole point of a first date is the opportunity to become more familiar with the other person. The truth is first dates are a great benefit because since we only know so much about the other person there are countless questions you can ask them – from what they do for a living and where they go to school, to what is their favorite color and Netflix show to rewatch when they should be doing their responsibilities? People like feeling as though someone is genuinely interested in hearing their answers.
Before the first date, genuinely ask yourself questions you would like to ask this person, especially if you want to avoid that awkward silence as much as possible. This will help you feel prepared beforehand, and inspire you to kickstart what could potentially be some scintillating conversation on this first date. If you’re lucky, there will be many more.
3. Share Your Location
Here’s the thing: we shouldn’t always be thinking worst-case scenario when we’re on a first date. It can be a buzzkill that prevents us from ever meeting people, and living in fear is an unhealthy way to go about life. None of that, however, means we should have to throw precaution out the window. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make moves that are responsible and will help us breathe easier when we’re worrying about if our crush noticed there’s something in our teeth.
It’s the advice you always hear: remember to always leave a note! Before you go on a first date, especially with someone you have never met before in person, it is a wise decision to let someone you trust know your plans and where you’re going to be. You can even share your location on your phone. People who know what you’re up to in case something does go awry on the date (from the guy being creepy to smelling bad) is a smart way to feel safe before your date has even begun.
4. Hype Yourself Up
On first dates, we’re always preoccupied with worrying about how to present ourselves in a way where we come off as charismatic and attractive. From trying to choose a cute outfit to practicing our laugh in the mirror (I’ve never done this, but apparently others have), we can worry more about us falling short on the date than the other person falling short in our estimation.
The truth is we need to try our utmost to strut off on a first date with at least some confidence in ourselves. We can’t always control how another person perceives us, which is one of the more difficult truths of life to come to terms with. What you can control, to an extent, is the effort you decide to exert in being your best self – and believing you are the shit, because believing is half of the power. Before that date, remind yourself of your accomplishments. Remind yourself of your interests, and remember they’re awesome. Remind yourself of anything that makes you you, and realize you’re perfectly valid. None of that changes no matter how your first date is going to go.
Also, confidence is a very attractive quality! If you’re feeling yourself, you give off a positive energy that attracts and impresses other people. That might also include your date. Needless to say: win-win.
5. Know You Aren’t Trapped
It is very easy to feel trapped in a social setting when we want nothing more than to get a breath of fresh air or straight-up go home. On a first date, we might feel like we’re obligated to stay no matter how it is going. This can contribute to our overall nervousness before the experience.
You have to remind yourself you still have power in this scenario. If you’re feeling breathless and anxious, there is no issue with excusing yourself to the bathroom or going outside for a second. If for whatever reason you’re uncomfortable on this date, you can make up an excuse that you have to go. Your comfort and safety is more important than risking disappointing someone.
First dates scare us all. But with these tips, you can empower yourself and remember you’re going to end up okay no matter what. Let us know some of your first date tips in the comments below!
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Sarah is an English and Communications major at Pace University, Pleasantville. She enjoys writing fiction, watching horror movies, and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack loudly enough that she annoys people on public transportation.