By Scott Power
Like how to own that awkwardness!
First dates have undeniable potential to be awkward – and, honestly, they usually are at some point. It’s a situation that is ripe as any for discomfort: You’re meeting someone you barely know (or don’t know at all) – sometimes for the first time – in real life. A lot can go wrong, or at least a lot can go weird.
For some, the fear of an awkward first date is so powerful that it keeps them from dating at all. But if you refuse to be scared of the unknown, then you’ll be the better for it.
“I’ve always felt the best way to deal with first-date awkwardness is to acknowledge and accept that first dates are awkward,” says Christie Hartman, a dating expert and behavioural scientist and author of It’s Not Him, It’s You: The Truth You May Not Want but Need – to Hear. “They’re supposed to be…. There’s a lot riding on a first date because you know it could be the beginning of something amazing IF it goes well, while at the same time knowing that the probability of things going well isn’t that high.”
Here, eight other ways to help you either avoid or combat awkwardness on a first date:
1. Have a Plan
It’s best to have a pretty solid plan in place so that there won’t be any confusion or indecisiveness. It gets pretty awkward if you just meet up somewhere and then have the 20-minute “No, YOU decide!” conversation on a street corner, which almost always ends in the “Let’s just walk around until we find a place” start to a first date. It doesn’t matter which one of you makes the call, but somebody oughta do it.
2. Be on Time
If the date starts out awkward, then there’s a high probability it’ll stay awkward. And one of the more awkward ways to introduce yourself is with a frantic explanation/apology about your showing up late. (Take this one from me: I’m late for pretty much everything. My mom likes to tell me I’ll be late for my own funeral, and then I’m like, “Well, if so, at least you can tell the attendees the story of how you’ve been predicting this since I was eight years old to keep them occupied while you all wait.”)
3. Have Realistic Expectations
“Most people aren’t right for you and it can take a long time to find the right one,” says Hartman. So relax a little bit, and don’t attach so much pressure to the situation. It’s not like you can’t have a good time with someone you don’t feel a romantic spark with.
4. Ask Questions, Don’t Interrogate
Now, of course a huge part of a first date is getting to know someone – sharing your interests, some information about where you come from and where you hope to be going, etc. But try not to be formulaic with your approach. On a lot of first dates, both parties feel like they’re being given an oral survey (and that’s not the kind of oral anyone’s looking to get out of dating, amirite?!). Come up with creative ways to carry on the conversation, and ask them some out-of-the-box questions to help break the ice. Don’t be afraid to be a little unconventional and goofy – it’ll help get you past the nerves.
5. Get Loose, Not Drunk
I love drinking more than most medical professionals would deem “healthy,” but you’ve got to be able to control it on a first date. Some people find that unattractive. Plus, you’ll want to actually remember what happened on your first date if it goes well.
6. Embrace the Silence
Hartman says you should avoid filling awkward silences with chatter. “That’s when people say dumb things and make it MORE awkward for both. Listen, ask questions, and just be present. The calmer you are, the calmer they’ll be.”
7. Don’t Talk About Your Ex
I shouldn’t even have to tell you this one, but there you have it. Nothing good ever comes from talking about your ex on a first date. Save that for later. When it comes to romance and attraction, first dates are all about the present, and, if you’re lucky, the future.
8. Own the Awkwardness
I once went on a first date that I showed up very late to, plus I showed up sweaty as hell. Like just-came-from-a-sauna kind of sweaty. I acknowledged it immediately, made fun of myself a few times for what I’m convinced is a legitimate sweating disorder, wiped my forehead with my handkerchief, and carried on. We’re still seeing each other. (*takes a bow*)