A first date can be both exciting and scary. You wonder — Will they like me? Could this be the one?
I got the best dating advice from Andy Whaling, MFT when I attended his Sunday Night Singles (2000-2002). Here are some of his and my tips for a first date.
Dealing with “Nerves”
Fear of rejection is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome on a first date. Andy’s suggestion is to shift the focus. Instead of worrying about if they will like you. Remember this is your chance to get to know them and decide if you like them. I know easier said than done. But, if you’re smiling and meeting people and dating 3 people (as Andy recommends) it does take some of the pressure off. You can relax and enjoy yourself more because each date doesn’t have to lead to marriage.
Think — the Opposite of “The Bachelor”
Andy also suggests keeping your dates low-key. You want to make sure you have a chance to get to know the other person and to see if you enjoy each other’s company. If you’re in a super romantic setting or doing a high adrenaline activity it’s hard to know if you’re excited about the person or the activity.
Don’t Bond Until You Know Them
Remember, it takes 3-6 months for infatuation to wear off. So, you don’t want to get too bonded before then. For women this means not getting physical. Because the more physical you get, the more bonded you’ll be. According to Louann Brizendine (2006) you start releasing hormones and bonding with a 20-second hug. So no slow dancing on a first date! Andy suggests a goodnight kiss. But, for a lot of women, even that makes them want to get married. So, sometimes a quick hug is better.
And according to Brizendine, men bond after high stress activities like a physical challenge. So, no hang-gliding or jumping out of airplanes on a first date.
Keep the Conversation Light
I love Andy’s idea that the only goal of a first date is — Do I want a second date? Here are Andy’s suggested topics for a first date.
- Places you’ve been
- Accomplishments (a little)
- *Also: News, Food, a little Work/Career/Profession
Don’t Go There Yet
Andy suggests staying away from topics that are too serious or personal. It doesn’t mean those aren’t important topics to discuss. It’s just too soon. Here are Andy’s topics to avoid on a first date:
- Health problems
- Any and all complaints
- China patterns or Sex
- Past Relationships/Ex
- How many children (you want)
You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing
It can be easy to get too intense or let the date go too long (Andy recommends 2 hours max) if you really like someone and are clicking. But, too much too soon can be enmeshing. Remember, the faster they come on the faster they go away. So, if you keep your boundaries, it will weed out people who tend to enmesh. The key is to leave them wanting more (not less) of you.
Is Your Conversation Flowing?
Is there a nice back and forth? You ask a question, I answer. I ask, You answer. This won’t be completely even. Sometimes one person is more introverted and the other more extroverted. Or they might be nervous. But, give-and-take is a sign of generosity, which is an important quality to look for.
Do You Want a Second Date?
After your first date, Andy suggests reflecting and asking yourself how you felt while you were with your date? Did you feel good about yourself or not so much? What about afterward?
If you feel good about yourself and you’d like to see them again –woo-hoo! Time for a second date. But, Andy suggests keeping your dates 2-3 weeks apart. Otherwise, you’re in a relationship and you can’t see anyone else.
This also means keeping the calls and texts to a minimum, basically just enough to set up your next date. I know this is hard and not very romantic. But, it’s a way to continue to date and get to know people slowly. Because that’s how you’ll find someone you could really love, who will really love you back. And that is really romantic and worth waiting for.
Brizendine, L. (2006). The Female Brain. New York: Doubleday.
Whaling, A. (2000-2002). Sunday Night Singles. Pasadena, CA.