Have the Perfect First Date

I put the cart ahead of the horse a bit yesterday. Because before you can decide if you’re dating The One, you have to get through the stress of The First Date.

I’ve known people who don’t date at all because they can’t get past the bowel-clenching agony of nerves of the First Date: What do I say? What do I wear? What do I order? What if they try to kiss me and I ate garlic-flavored spaghetti for dinner, for goodness sake?!

You always hear, “Be Yourself” on dates. That’s GREAT advice!

But if you’re so nervous about how you look at the person and your core temperature rises 23.6 degrees and blood thuds in your ears so loudly you can’t even hear the ambulance sirens and pull over to the side of the road… well, a little preparation to “Be Yourself” is in order.

So, alright, you faint-of-heart romantic wannabes, here are the definitive, tested, get you out of a scrape

Five Tips for a Great First Date

1. Prepare Conversational Topics. Yes, it’s cold and calculating… but it works for First Dates (and job interviews!).

There are some typical questions people ask as they get to know one another, things like what they do with their time every day, where they grew up, what are their favorite hobbies, books, music, etc. You know, the same questions you have for your date as you try to decide if it’s a compatibility match!

Prepare your answers to those questions. Practice the conversation with yourself in a mirror. Don’t use foul language. Choose the experiences you want to share as a first impression.

You’ll discover when the time comes to answer you’re ready to be suave, articulate, and confident! (And who wouldn’t fall in love with that?!)

2. The Dreaded Food Choice. Most dates involve eating. Your choice as you’re looking at the menu can help you feel secure to continue the conversation… or stress you out to the max!

Choose a food you like to eat that is moderately priced. The 50 oz. porterhouse steak is not the best choice for this particular moment – remember, the meal is about getting to know your date, not stuffing your face so much you don’t have time to talk!

There are foods notoriously difficult to eat: spaghetti, crab legs or lobster, or anything with a tendency to fall off your fork, be chased around the plate using your fingers or requiring excessive wiping of the face and fingers with the napkin. Avoid Those Foods. There will be time to eat them later – this moment is about making a good first impression.

I’ll also go on record as being strongly against the hot dog. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t burp like crazy after eating that little bun-wrapped wiener and nothing says “ewwww” like a date who’s emitting meat-scented bursts of intestinal air on their side of the car.

Final thought: brush up on your table manners. Knowing to treat one another like a lady or a gentleman by observing proper table manners creates BIG popularity points!

3. Control The Malfunctioning Body. Funny, once married many people go on a search for “the butterflies” with their spouse. But when you’re on a date, those very same Butterflies can send you careening into a bathroom tout suite!

Your hands sweat. Your stomach lurches. Your bowels grip. You walk into a wall. You trip over a curb. Your tongue twists.

(Why do we do this to one another, again? Doesn’t this sound like torture?? Yet show up at any Olive Garden on a Friday night and there you have, a cornucopia of couples putting themselves through the wringer on the off-chance it may be true love. We are weird, people. Very weird.)

For the stomach, consider putting a Tums in your pocket or purse. If you walk into a wall or fall on your face, use it as an opportunity to laugh and show you have a sense of humor in the face of adversity. Just like in the movie Hitch, many times we fall in love with the sweet imperfections of our partner.

Also, body language experts have discovered you can raise the temperature of your hands several degrees by visualizing holding your hands in front of a campfire for warmth. True story – so if you have cold, clammy hands, imagine a fire. You’ll be surprised by the result.

(Funny side note, I looked at my now-husband the first time we were about to hold hands and said, “I’m really sorry but my hands are terribly sweaty. Are you sure you want to hold them?!” He said yes. And we got married four months later. He also burped in my mouth as we kissed. We learned to be authentic with each other early.)

4. Breathe. Look For The Fun. Be Yourself. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself you stop having a good time. Remember, it only takes one right person to stop your First Date experiences forever. You are bringing good stuff to the table… so be confident in yourself and actively listen, observe and query your partner to find out their good stuff.

If things go wrong, as they sometimes will, and the date your on seems all uphill.. oh, sorry, got caught up for a minute there! If things go wrong – laugh! The best memories we have are not when things go flawlessly, it’s when there is adversity and we overcome it together. That’s what memories are made of!

5. Your End Goal Is Not A Second Date, It’s A Lifetime of Happiness. While I’m a firm believer in dating for fun, we don’t date for the joy of a date in itself. The dating process is designed to learn if you are compatible with someone for the long haul, not to know if they can look good, smile and be pleasant for three hours once or twice a week.

With that in mind, feel free to cut the line quickly if you’re not compatible. Talk about the nonnegotiables like spirituality, philosophy on monogamy, etc. early, before you’re so caught up in attraction you start to make compromises on thing that have always been exceptionally important to you.

The goal is not to have a sexual experience. Or a time to write home about. It’s to respect another person enough to try to know them – and see if you have enough in common to continue the relationship of mutual respect.

What recommendations do you have for The First Date? Do you have any stories of The First Date gone terribly, horribly awful?

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4 thoughts on “Have the Perfect First Date

  • August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I am one of those that was against dating, I just didn’t like it, had to do with being tramatized after I fell asleep in a movie I had no interest in seeing on a blind date with a man who informed me after the movie that he had been diagnosed with sexual addiction. I was thankful we had arrived in separate cars and all of a sudden I had a coughing fit that would not stop and announced I should head home as not to ruin his evening anymore.

    My husband and I have differences of opinions of when our first date actually was. He says it was lunch the day we met. I have tried to convince him that 2 hungry girls fresh off a mountain hike inviting 2 guys whom we made small talk with 1/2 way down the mountain to lunch was not a first date. He asked me for 2 weeks if he could take me out and I was having a hard time commiting until I invited him to join the same friend from the initial meeting and I at happy hour one friday. My friend ended up leaving shortly after he arrived which is when I realized I was on a date. I have to say the improptu of it all worked out well and was what I needed to not think about my nerves. For the record the following friday evening he did surprise me with what I consider our real first date because it started and ended with only us two, none of my friends were needed for nerve control. Ice skating and hot cocoa followed by a “chick flick” at the theater he knew I wanted to see, now that is what I call a perfect first date.

  • August 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Great advice! And intertwined with some great humor. Love it.

    I can’t say I have been on a terrible first date (web designers don’t get to date!), but I have been in a relationship that got too serious too fast. My advice, learn to take dating like Sherlock Holmes solves a mystery. Listen and watch carefully, take your time, take in all the details and process them. Don’t just jump into a conclusion about the person. There is no need to rush. Otherwise you will most likely regret it later on.

  • September 4, 2011 at 4:56 am

    I’ve seen many people agonizing over if this person is “the one”. If you don’t know, they usually aren’t. Not every relationship is meant to be forever. But you can learn things about what you do need in your future spouse.

    I second the advice to cut and run once you know this is not a forever sort of relationship. People spend too much time with people who are not “the one”, sometimes because it’s more comfortable to be in that relationship, than to be single and looking again.

    In most cases I’ve seen where marriage is the end result, the couple is spending lots of time talking and enjoying being together, and not so much time agonizing over things. Granted, I do more analyzing than I should. But falling in love is a beautiful thing, and when you find the right person, you’ll both know.


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