Take the Awkward Out of First Dates

Lesson one: Ignore your ticking biological clock.

Dear Monica, First dates are very stressful. It feels like the guy is just checking me out. How do you have a first date with substance? —Z.N., Rosemont

You probably are right about him “checking you out,” but aren’t you checking him out, too? First dates are difficult for both parties. Most people are nervous and they do not feel like they are at their best. It is not easy making small talk and asking the right questions when you’re sitting across from a stranger. Don’t be too harsh in your initial judgement. If you want to get to know someone, you must be open-minded and accept the second date. This is how you can start to figure out if you have anything in common and really want to see them again.

Here are some tips for making the first date a less stressful.

  • Suggest a place that is quiet. Nothing is worse than straining your ears and vocal chords while trying to get basic information.
  • Don’t pick a place with a see-and-be-seen crowd. The last thing you want is a series of people stopping by the table and interrupting any flow of conversation. And if the date is not going well, you don’t want the world to know about it.
  • No movies as first dates. A first date should be about getting to know each other. A movie is a perfect third or fourth date because it gives you something to talk about afterward·
  • Don’t choose athletic activities for first dates. It is nice to have interests like walking and jogging, but you hardly want to be sweating and huffing and puffing as the first impression. Stick to places with air conditioning and a nice atmosphere.·
  • Keep the conversation upbeat, Don’t talk about exes or disgruntled bosses and especially not politics. Focus on positive vibes.
  • Ask questions about him and interesting world topics. Stay away from chatting about Snooki’s baby or sparkly vampires. You want to figure out if there is a foundation here or just nothingness.
  • Do not talk about marriage or kids, even if your biological clock is ticking. You don’t want him climbing out of the men’s room window.
  • Wear something hip and cool, but not too sexy or revealing. You may not think so, but brains do trump boobs.
  • When saying good night, if you are into him, let him know but also give him something to look forward to.

Basically you are looking in a low-key way to understand his priorities and values. They will come to the surface through casual conversation and anecdotes. Time spent together is the only way to see if you are potentially compatible. Be patient and your instincts will guide you.