“Love is a sweet tyranny, because the lover endureth his torments willingly.” ~Proverb
First Dates: 5 Ways to Not Screw Up
We have all felt the roller coaster of emotion so intrinsically tied to the cultural phenomenon of dating. Chances are, this same roller coaster has led us to say some of the stupidest things, do some of the strangest things, and feel some of the weirdest things that any of us have ever experienced. Before romantic relationships are established, there is a very wonderful, very confusing period of time most refer to as “dating.” What is dating? Dating is the process by which we judge, adapt, impress, and test our potential significant other in an attempt to figure out if they are, in fact, compatible. This process is a beautiful mess of emotion that transcends all reason as we make absolute fools of ourselves in the name of love.
First dates are one of the most fascinating interactions that human beings will ever experience. The combination of hormones, pheromones, calzones, and unknowns make each first date epic. Most people have experienced at least one amazing first date, and at least several terrible ones. That being said, I’m quite simply tired of people screwing it up. I have for some time been known to give relationship advice to friends on a fairly regular basis and although I’ve yet to earn my PhD in matchmaking, I consider myself at the very least a good person to talk to. While I do think that I can give good advice to girls in the area of dating, I can’t pretend to know what goes through a girl’s head on a first date, so this advice is primarily for the guys out there. So here is my advice on proper first date etiquette…
1. Do something worth remembering.
Chances are, if you’re on a first date with a girl, it means that you are somewhat interested in her. If not, then you should have had the foresight not to go on the date in the first place. Therefore, you should at least go through the first steps in making the date enjoyable for both parties. You can’t reasonably expect yourself to come up with an amazingly interesting and unique idea for each and every date, but dinner and a movie is a great way to ruin a first impression. Girls like guys who care. So show that you at least care enough to take the time to plan something even somewhat unique. Take her to the park, take her to get coffee, or take her to a sports game. Wherever you take her and whatever you do, make sure that she remembers it by adding your own personal flair to it. This date is about showing her who you are. Going on a generic date only hurts your chances.
2. Don’t you dare get romantic.
While I enjoy chick flicks more than any man ever should, I must tell you that getting romantic on a first date is a tragic mistake made by far too many idealistic men. The reason that you are on a first date is to determine whether or not the relationship will turn into one that is romantic so don’t jump the gun. This applies to almost all areas of the date, meaning don’t force awkward physical touching, don’t take her to a candlelit dinner, don’t buy her flowers (this is sometimes ok, but usually it’s a no go. Wait till the second or third date). Being romantic on a first date is going to send a signal of desperation and awkwardly large amounts of emotional vulnerability. Coming from the guy who loves nothing more than talking about feelings, don’t release the emotional cavalry on the first date.
3. Be a gentleman.
Now I might get criticized for being old school in this sense, but It’s better to be safe then sorry. Most girls are going to really appreciate a guy who holds open doors, pays for dinner, and drives. On the off chance that you take out a girl who hates doors being held open, has to pay for her dinner, and will meet you there, good luck. There is a real lack of gentlemen in the year 2009 and you should take any chance you can to prove that you are in fact, the last of a dying breed. However, please don’t over do it. Just because you’re being a gentleman doesn’t mean that you should be ridiculous. She can open her own car door, she can probably walk around the puddle without you throwing your shirt on it. Do the small things, but don’t pretend to be someone or something you’re not.
4. Don’t force it.
Whether or not you believe in one true love is irrelevant. Unless of course you think that you could make things work with every member of the opposite sex. In which case, you obviously don’t need my advice. That being said, there are some dates that are not going to end with two people falling in love and that’s fine. In fact, that’s much more common than opposite affect. If you realize while on the date that this girl isn’t for you, don’t call for an immediate retreat. Instead, go through the rest of the night being as polite and gentlemanly as you can manage. She is still a person with feelings and chances are, if you’re not feeling it then neither is she.
5. Be yourself, and have fun.
To take a page from Will Smith’s character in Hitch, if she’s on the date, that means that she’s at least entertaining the thought of dating you. So don’t stress. Try your best to relax and have a good time. Dates should be fun, the hard part was asking her out. Now that she’s said yes, all you have to do is be yourself and let cupid play his game. There it is, the most important part is just remembering that it’s just a first date.
“The art of love… is largely the art of persistence.” ~Albert Ellis
*This blog was inspired by an ex girlfriend of mine who asked me to write a blog about relationships (Ironic, huh?). On our first date, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights for 4 hours.
Now I want to know what you think? Do you agree/disagree? Do you have any stories of terrible or awesome first dates? Let me know.