Boy meets Girl. Boy falls in love with Girl. Girl falls in love with Boy. They get married, ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Nowhere in this fairy tale lie the sordid details of their first date. Did Boy reveal Great Uncle Larry’s propensity to guess the weight of the women in his family? Did Girl coyly say “I don’t know. Whatever you want to do” to every suggestion Boy made? I wonder if their first date took on an ominous interview quality. You know the one….. “How many kids do you want? How do you want to raise them? Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you going to be a career woman or a stay at home mom?” I’m not a betting gal, but if I had to take a gamble I’d say Boy and Girl steered clear of the aforementioned chit chat and had glance at this cheat sheet I have prepared for you!
Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge that fabulous people fudge first dates. People who breeze confidently into business meetings, or manage a classroom of 25 little people can suddenly become undone. The life of the party becomes the wall flower, or the introverted type is rattling off all the names of the children in his second grade elementary school class. For the purposes of this article, I am referring to this phenomenon as “Phobic First Daters.” (PFD). If you are a PFD you know how you feel before and during a first date. You may place an enormous emphasis on your appearance, or spend your time analyzing your conversation with your date. Whatever the hyper focus is, it is distracting you from being present on your first date. Whether you are a Phobic First Dater, toil moderately or simply want to amp up your first date game, here are some useful tips to consider:
1. Don’t “just relax.” How many well intentioned people have told you to just relax? If this works for you, just relax and skip to Tip #2. If you are a dater for whom these words are like nails on a chalk board then this tip is for you. Instead of trying to relax, acknowledge to yourself that you get stressed before dates. In other words, own it. Don’t actively try to rid yourself of this emotion, but imagine the stress passing. Here is a one popular exercise. Imagine you are a rock in the ocean. You are immovable. The waves thrash upon you, but you know the storm will pass and the sun will shine again; as it always has. The rock is you before your date. The waves are the first date jitters. Say “hello jitters. We meet again. You can prep with me before my date if you’d like.” This may feel counterintuitive but it puts you in control of your nerves.
2. Revealing personal information should be done in the same manner one might drink a fine wine; slowly. In the now dubbed “Great Uncle Larry” category I include shameful personal secrets, family secrets, politics, worldview and personal relationship expectations. This may send your date running for the hills not because you aren’t fabulous. After all, everyone has a skeleton or two. It is because you are essentially a stranger. Imagine if a stranger approached you on the street and asked you to look at his sixth toe or told you that he feels essentially unloved by his mother. It would be awkward. You may feel bad for this stranger, you may run or you may even want to help, but you wouldn’t be thinking romance. Here is a basic equation for revealing very personal things: Shared experience, shared sentiment and trust = sharing and revealing. There’s nothing wrong with a little mystery. To be Continued….
3. Smile and make eye contact. Look like you want to be there. Hold his gaze while he speaks to you. Smile and gaze and you’re golden!
4. Use his name in conversation. “John, can you pass the salt?” “You look lovely this evening, Sarah.” People love the sound of their own name. Using her name shows her that you are confident and speaking directly to her. You are not on a date with anyone else. You are completely focused on her. You are not on autopilot. You are in the moment and present for him. This is highly attractive. Hopefully he will want to hear his name roll of your tongue again and again.
5. Show a healthy curiosity about your date. DO NOT INTERROGATE. DO NOT INTERVIEW.
DO: Ask how many siblings he has. DON’T: Ask who is the favorite child.
DO: Ask about his fantasy vacation destination. DON’T: Tell him you would never consider traveling there.
DO: Ask about her job. DON’T: Ask what she earns.
DO: Ask him what his top five favorite books/movies are. DON’T: tell him you saw the last two movies he mentioned with your ex.
6. Shower, wear something nice. I’m not suggesting you spend your afternoon in front of the mirror, but looking put together and smelling nice and fresh shows your date that you put in effort because this date means something to you.
In signing off, I will mention the most important tip of all. Be yourself and you can’t go wrong!
Jennifer Mann, Navidater