First dates can often be awkward, but they don’t have to be. Chances are that you’ve been on a blind date, either set up through a friend or online (like Match.com), or you’re trying to set up one of your single friends (in which case you need to forward this to them). Some of those dates have probably gone well, but if you’re like most people who are on the scene then you’ve probably experienced some horrible dates that make for great entertainment with your friends. Assuming that the person who shows up is the same as the person you saw in the pictures, or the same as your friend described him/her to be, these 8 tips will make that first meeting a little less awkward.
1. Find out as much as you possibly can about the other person
I’m not saying that you should (cyber)stalk the person, but if a friend is setting the two of you up, ask your friend about that person. What are their likes/dislikes? Where did they go to school? What did they study? What kind of movies/books do they like? What do they like to do in their spare time?
You might be thinking that this will take away from asking questions on the actual date, but to the contrary. If there’s a lull, you can bring up one of these topics, or you can ask a deeper question about a topic. Example: “Jennifer said that you like to travel. Where have you been and where would you like to go next?” – rather than “Sooooo, do you like to travel?”
2. Have a unique approach to where you meet
Most people like to do things and go places they’ve never been before. If you’re meeting for coffee, don’t go to Starbucks. Chances are you’ve both probably been to a Starbucks 100 times before. Instead, find a cool lesser-known coffee shop that has received good reviews (like on Yelp). It will show that you did your homework and want to make an impression. People like that, even if they say they don’t care.
Make sure it’s not your local hangout either; leave that (amazing!) place for the next date. Choose something that’s new to both of you so that you’re both discovering it together. The same goes for a restaurant, or whatever type of venue you choose to meet at.
3. Show up on time…or even 5 minutes early
Someone might tell you that it’s no problem that you showed up late, but they’re taking mental notes, and you just lost a few points. If you’re going to be late, call or text that person 5 minutes before your meeting time and let them know approximately how late you’ll be. This will show that although you don’t plan well, at least you’re respectful enough to give them a heads up. I say that you should let them know 5 minutes before the time you’re supposed to meet because calling/texting them at the time you’re supposed to meet, or a few minutes after, is poor form.
4. Mentally prepare on the way to your date
No, it’s not like you’re going into battle, but it helps to make that first “hello” go a bit smoother when you visualize it in your mind. Visualize yourself being calm and excited to meet that other person, and them being excited to meet you, rather than either of you being nervous or shy. Visualize your conversation being effortless, and free of any awkward moments. Visualize yourself really clicking with that other person and finding them really interesting. DO NOT visualize anything beyond that. Don’t visualize yourself falling in love with that person, getting married, having the most beautiful children in the world and living happily ever after. The goal here is to go into the first date wanting it to be a good experience, rather than thinking, “I hope this isn’t another lame date,” etc. (because that’s exactly what you’ll get).
5. When you see them, make that first interaction count
Be natural in your approach, meaning if you’re someone who shakes hands when first meeting someone, kisses on the cheek, or gives a warm hug – do that. If the other person reacts awkwardly, just laugh it off. It’s no big deal. In fact, they’ll appreciate your authenticity of doing what you normally do, rather than just doing the safe hand shake, and they’ll most likely reciprocate that same method of greeting when you part at the end.
6. Listen more than you talk
Yes, you ARE the most interesting person on the planet, but so is that person you’re on a date with…maybe. But you’ll never know unless you ask them questions right?!
7. Ask interesting questions
There is a huge difference between regular questions and interesting questions. Basically, regular questions are going to get you regular answers, but interesting questions are going to get you interesting answers. I was a recruiter for 3 years and it was my job to make my candidates seem to be the most interesting candidate that the company had ever seen. One way that I would accomplish this is by teaching them how to ask interesting questions, because people who ask interesting questions are…you guessed it…more interesting themselves!
So what does it mean to ask interesting questions? It means that instead of asking general questions, such as “what do you like to do for fun?” you should ask something like, “aside from hanging out with friends, what do you REALLY like to do for fun?” Most people say that they like to hang out with friends, but if you take that answer away from them they’ll really have to think…and this is a good thing. If you did the first step and found out more information about this person, you can ask even more interesting questions like, “I heard that you like to play pool…when was the last time you took someone for all their money?!” This is obviously more of a fun question, but at least it’s different than the general (boring) questions that people always ask on first dates. Make sense?
8. Be present
Just because you’re physically sitting there with that person doesn’t mean that you’re mentally there with them. If you’re thinking about the hellish day you just had, the laundry that you need to do tomorrow so that you don’t have to go commando, or the fact that their shoes don’t go with their outfit – you’re not being present with them.
Being present means being in the moment with them, talking with them, and truly listening to them. Otherwise you’re really not giving them a fair chance, and you’re not giving yourself a fair chance either. You may actually be really attracted to him/her and find him/her really interesting, but if your mind is distant and (s)he senses it, you’re going to come off as someone who’s “not all there,” “doesn’t want to be there,” or “just not interested” – which could completely backfire on you.
If you’ve read this far, then you can do all of these steps because you actually care about learning why your dates might not being going so great. Not every first date turns into a second date, but it has a much greater chance if you follow these steps.
What would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments below. Or just tell us about a really bad first date!