12 Things I’ve Learned From 12 First Dates

How to maneuver the intricacies of first dates

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It’s tricky to avoid the awkwardness on a first date.

Lesson #1

On my very first date, I went out with a guy I worked with at the time. We went to a movie and he talked through the entire first 20 minutes of the film… at full volume.

I was too caught up in the moment to realize just how obnoxious this was until literally two strangers in the seats in front of us turned around and told him to, “Please just shut [his] mouth, there are others trying to enjoy the film here.” 

This disregard for other people in the movie was a bit extreme and should have definitely been considered a red flag, but, as these things go, I was not necessarily taking that into consideration at the moment. 

Please, if you are on a first date, pay attention to how the person you are out with interacts with others and note their consideration of how others feel, regardless of how much you may like them.

Lesson #2

It’s important on first dates to pay attention to how he talks/what he tends to focus on in the conversation. Does he only talk about himself or does he ask questions that take into account the fact that you even exist?

Believe it or not, I have been on more than one date where the guy talked about himself the entire time and did not ask me more than two questions about myself. Of course, sometimes this may be reflexive if they are nervous. Still, if you can’t sneak a word in edgewise on more than one date, then do you really want to pursue something with this person?

Lesson #3

First dates can move very quickly and some people can be far more invested than you might be right away. This can easily become awkward when not handled right.

If, on the first date, a guy is talking about marriage or hinting at moving to the same place after graduation (this has happened to me, no joke), just casually shift away from the topic to something more neutral. 

For example, if the conversation is veering into uncharted waters, just bring up that one time you said “love you” instead of “bye” to the bus driver before class last week.

Lesson #4

This lesson is a bit more on the sappy side, but if the date is going well and things are going well and things are looking bright in terms of more dates likely happening in the future, keep a memento of the night.

If you two drew on the back of the receipt or ate straight sugar packets together, snag one or two and stick ‘em in your pocket. Label them with the date and maybe the subject matter being discussed and save them for later—they make for great anniversary gifts or just plain old keepsakes.

Lesson #5

Let’s address what to do when things are a bit dry and dull on a first date. If the conversation is getting a bit lackluster and you’re getting a bit bored, start asking the individual if you can see pictures of their pets or talk to them about something they’re passionate about and I promise you things will pan out. 

And, if that doesn’t work, just roll with the punches. Sometimes things don’t flow on a first date or maybe you’re not the right match. Chemistry is chemistry if you know you know.

Lesson #6

Be smart about where and when you’re meeting. If you don’t know the guy, drive yourself to the first date and if things are getting uncomfortable, don’t be scared to speak up or find an out. I have definitely been on a date that just did not click and being able to drive myself and have the freedom to leave when I wanted to make me feel a lot safer.

Lesson #7

Stay interested and learn how to show it. I am a communications major, so this statement coming from me really should not surprise anyone. 

Body language is so important to convey interest. If you look closed off and disengaged, your date is either going to get the wrong impression of you or will reciprocate that behavior (neither are desired outcomes). 

Aim to convey interest by showing that you are listening to your date and are attentive to what they are saying. Make eye contact consistently, keep your arms unfolded, show on your face that you are engaged. It doesn’t hurt to reference back to things they have mentioned prior to this date (maybe over Snapchat or the last time you hung out).

With this, keep your intentions clear. It is easy for things to get lost in translation. If you aren’t conscious of it the individual you are with, you may not understand the objectives of the situation. Be sure to vocalize your motives (are you going on dates casually or seriously? What type of relationship are you looking to get out of this?).

I have been on a date where the other individual was clearly looking for something serious, but I was dating more casually and seeing where it went. I did not make that initially clear and it definitely made things more awkward later on.

Lesson #8

You’ve heard it before, but be yourself. Don’t ever change yourself for a guy. If a match is right, things will come naturally. Don’t force yourself to be someone else. Though this may work at first, as time passes, the façade will not hold up.

Lesson #9

Another piece of advice I have for dating is to prepare yourself beforehand: What are you looking for in a partner? What attributes and character traits are important to you? Set high standards. I promise you, you deserve more than you give yourself credit for. Don’t settle for subpar when you know there’s better out there.

Lesson #10

First impressions are everything. A positive first impression is huge and can make or break whether or not things start off on the right foot. 55 percent of first impressions are visible, so wear something that makes you feel confident or most like yourself. 38 percent of first impressions are the words your listener thinks you say. 

Be cognizant of phrasing and wording when you are talking. The way you say something, not even the particular information said, can easily deter interest. That being said, take a deep breath, as scary as this sounds, even if something comes out wrong you can recognize that and change it in the situation.

Lesson #11

Pay attention to the way your date treats the waitstaff or other individuals they engage with. Are they polite to your waitress? Do they tip after the meal? Do they offer to pay?

Generally speaking, people are trying to project the best parts of themselves on a first date. If the boy you’re out with is rude to others on his best behavior, what is he typically like?

Lesson #12

The final tip I have for you is to not put too much pressure on a first date. All that does is make you nervous and heighten your expectations to an unrealistic extent, leading you to feel let down or dejected if things on your date did not go exactly to plan.

First dates can be challenging, but if you follow these tips, you’re guaranteed to feel more at ease the next time you’re out on one. Good luck.

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