Preparing and planning for a first date can seem like a daunting task. All too often we allow our personal experiences, expectations, and societal pressures to come into play. This can bring on a lot of anxiety and divert our attention from the more important factors.
With a little guidance and some know-how, preparing for and participating in that first date can be made into a very fun and positive experience (even if a connection is not made).
Below I’ve outlined three very practical steps that the mature individual can start implementing today to create first-date success.
1. Recognize The Goal
The ultimate goal of the first date is to get to know someone better. Plain and simple. Whether male or female, there is no reason to put too much emphasis on where it will go, or expect this person to be “the one.”
Slow your role for a second. One reason why so many people dread or hate the dating scene is that their expectation levels are set too high. Then they get confused, frustrated, or baffled at why they can’t just find the right guy/girl already.
Your one and only goal of the first date is take some time out to get to know this person and find out if there is a match, or any compatibility and chemistry. This qualification process is extremely important and will continue on for some time so don’t get too analytical. If the potential for a second date is in your future it can be explored as needed.
2. Eliminate The Common First Date Mistakes
Never set up a first date to be the typical “dinner and a movie,” date. This bears repeating, so I will - never set up the first date to be the typical dinner and a movie date!
Why? Beyond the fact that it’s the most used strategy for first dates, there are a couple of important reasons. For starters, dinner leaves too many variables open. Where do you go? How much do you spend? Who’s reaching for the check at the end of the night?
Say you find out this person is someone you really aren’t into and you haven’t even gotten the appetizer yet. Are you ready to spend the next hour eating in awkwardness or perhaps silence with this person?
The movies are another deal breaker. If you’re in the theater you’re spending roughly two hours side by side in a dark room with no conversation or barely any interaction at all. Not exactly a great way to get to know somebody.
Don’t get me wrong here, great relationships and long lasting marriages have sprouted from this old fashioned combo, but let’s make it easier on the both of you and be a little more functional, which we’ll get to in just a sec.
Also, remember to avoid places that are loud and noisy for the same reason as the movie theater. That underground club may be very fun and exciting but the idea is to welcome conversation and communication - not put a wedge between it.
Probably the worst location mistake we can make on a first date is being locked in somewhere for an extended period of time. Stay away from anywhere that will not grant you the ability to pull the rip cord in the event disaster strikes and you need to run.
Finally, get rid of the myth that you’ll need to, or have to, impress the other person. There’s nothing more unattractive than a try-hard. Outlandish gestures, boasting, spending, or suggestions will only implant the wrong type of perception.
Did you notice the subtle difference there? We want to make an impression - not try to impress. It’s a nuance that can convey whether you are a confident person, or one who seeks approval.
3. Keep It Relaxed And Informal
Since we know to hold off on dinner and a movie, our next best bet for location would be somewhere quiet, relaxed, and easy going.
Safety is a must. As with any relationship trust plays a vital role starting on day one. For the most part, it’s common knowledge to choose or agree on a public and welcoming setting, so stick with what makes sense.
Cafes and coffee houses are great place to have a conversation, perhaps a cup of coffee or tea, and start some dialogue. Most cities and smaller towns have wide variety of locally owned or chain establishments that will work just fine and provide a great setting. The reason why these types of places work is because they give us options.
If it’s not working out we can respectfully part ways without wasting a significant amount of either person’s time or money.
If things are moving along well, we can stay and talk more to see where it goes.
If things are going really great, and the time permits, then go ahead and suggest that the two of you go grab a bite to eat or change the location! See how that works?
We’ve assessed and qualified the dynamic between the two of you responsibly, prior to making any commitments in advance.
Picture it like dipping your toe into the swimming pool to test the temperature prior to jumping in. See, this is where the start-small mindset can really work in your favor.
By affording the process to unfold simply and naturally, we eliminate a lot of the stress and frustration that has come to be associated with meeting someone for the first time. How the rest of the date and your future plays out depends on the two of you and a variety of other factors.
Now I’ll pass the conversation on to you... What type of first-date experiences or blunders have been through? Do you find dating to be a fun or stressful activity? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.
Jason Anthony, founder of EvenMinds, (http://evenminds.com) is committed to inspiring others to design an extraordinary life, empower themselves, and improve their well being. Get a free e-course on building healthy and dynamic relationships (http://evenminds.com/rdm-giveaway) just for signing up for the EvenMinds newsletter.