Hands down, who’s afraid of first dates?
Well, you have every reason not to be. I love first dates. Even though the thought of first dates might be intimidating, they can be a great deal of fun. If you have one (or many) lined up and cannot shake that sneaky queasy feeling, here are a couple nuggets of wisdom on how not to go bananas over your next first date.
Go on the date ASAP. If a person asks you out OR you’re thinking of asking someone out (GO-GO-GO! Picture me in a dolphin mascot costume cheering for you and do it – don’t hesitate!), set the date for the next couple days. Let’s call this my golden 48-hour rule. Or suggest an impromptu date the same afternoon/evening. You have to strike while the iron is still hot. Once I had the brilliant idea of suggesting that we meet about a week after the guy asked me out – I had some very secret but very valid reasons for doing so; therefore postponing the date was both a blessing and a curse. As a result, I had plenty of time to go over all the ways in which the date could go wrong and phantasize about how we could end up sitting opposite each other in uncomfortable silence. I got so anxious and ended up dreading the idea of going on this date so much that I almost canceled it.
Remember the true essence of the first date. You might think that this is to make a good impression on a potential love partner, but I would suggest focusing on something else: Getting to know a new (and hopefully marvelously interesting) person. My brother makes fun of me for the fact that every time I go on a date I come back home talking about how interesting my date was. “How come the people that you date are always interesting?”, he teases me. Truth be told, not all dates are created equal. Or equally interesting. But we are all so different from each other; everybody has their own stories, jokes, theories on life, love, politics, art, movies, updating LinkedIn profiles, why shit happens and whether suffering is optional. They might study or work in a field totally new to you or have a hobby that sounds slightly odd but also fun; if you see the first date as an opportunity to learn someone and something new it instantly becomes less intimidating!
Do goof around before you get there to let some steam off. Personally I opt for sending selfies to my best friends – we laugh it off and they give me compliments on my hair. You might decide on a Tom Cruise à la Risky Business dance, singing in the shower, calling your mom or walking to the meeting point if possible. One of the things that I love about Manchester is that it is such a walk-able city. When the weather is not too appalling, i.e. cold AND rainy, I enjoy walking everywhere. Walking and people-watching constitute the perfect form of distraction when you start getting cold feet.
Get creative. Staring in each other’s eyes over coffee or drinks for a prolonged period of time can be a bit unnerving. As I said above the first date is a great opportunity to get to know each other better; therefore, the ideal scenario would be a place or activity that would allow you to engage in conversation, i.e. skip the cinema unless you plan on grabbing drinks or something to eat afterwards. If you ask me, I love museum and art gallery visits as well as simply walking around. It might sound odd but standing next to someone instead of staring deep into their eyes helps you loosen up according to my playbook. Same goes in case you still cannot ditch the idea of drinks or coffee, what about sitting at the bar? Did I forget to mention food? When it comes to food on dates, I’d suggest three things: Firstly, keep it casual, especially on a first date. I usually joke that burgers are a perfect first date food option, since you either get very messy (I am as elegant as a 3-year-old when it comes to eating) or you literally bite more than you can chew and end up looking like this. Having said that, if you do that and the other person laughs, he/she is a keeper. Secondly, try not to interrupt the other mid-sentence to say “OMG, I just love pickles!” (been there, done that). Thirdly, ask whether they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions – ever taken a vegan to a bbq joint?
Last but not least, it is very very very advisable to always let a friend or family member know where you are going, with whom and when you’re planning on returning home, mainly for safety reasons. At the same time, the idea of having a friend call you to announce a fake emergency situation that will get you out of a boring first date lingers on the borderline between cliché and blatantly rude.
(Un)dateable (as always),