How to Make Your First Less Awkward

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Going on a first date, especially with someone you’ve never met before, can be an incredibly awkward and nerve-wracking experience if you’re not a dating expert, which, let’s face it, most of us are not. Before I met my partner, I went on at least fifty first dates over the course of a year. While you might call that crazy, I call it determined; and because of the sheer quantity of dates I’ve been on, I have become, if not a self-professed expert, knowledgeable about how to make a first date not only less awkward, but dare I say, fun. So, without further adieu, here are 5 tips for how you can make your first date less awkward.

1.Put the thought of romance on hold until the second date.

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One of the biggest reasons for awkwardness on a first date is the build-up of expectation. You’re hoping for sparks and instant chemistry. You’ve watched movies, in which two people have met and have felt an immediate deep connection. You’ve come to believe that this is normal, and that if you feel sort of mediocre about a first date that it means he’s not your soulmate. Well, all of that hyperbolic cinematic drama is made up. Real love has nothing to do with immediate sparks or a strong desire to make out after one cosmopolitan and talk about sorority life.

Instead of subscribing to the false notion of instant chemistry, decide that you want to get to know your date and that’s all. Don’t worry about sparks, fireworks, or any of the other hoopla that probably won’t happen. Your only goal for a first date is to get to know your potential partner as best as you can. Relieve yourself of any pressure on the night by hoping for magic, or thinking you need to kiss someone who just met an hour ago at Starbucks.

2.Be genuinely interested in the other person.

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There can be an unspoken pressure when meeting someone for the first time to impress them with stories of all the places you’ve travelled, your ambitious life goals, and the never-ending list of amazing hobbies you have. That sort of thinking turns a first date into a job interview. Stop trying to impress your date, and you won’t have to worry about what to say!

Here’s the key: Focus less on being interesting and more on being interested.

What does that mean? Ask your date questions! Really listen to him and express an interest in what he’s saying. Find out what sparks his joy, what his values are, and what he’s looking for in a relationship. Ask questions about his spiritual life and mindfulness practices. Encourage him to open up, and he will leave the date feeling buoyed up by the idea that he got to share his interests and passions.

3.Don’t invest too much time or energy.

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It’s tempting to exchange messages and text ad infinitum, because it’s a lot easier than actually meeting in person. When you’re frequently going on online dates, you’re going to find that there are some people who require a month of message before they’re ready to meet in person. Don’t let their excuses of being too busy, saddled down by responsibility, or unable to come out in the snow, rain, or humidity, make you feel like you have to engage in non-stop messaging until the next full moon. 

Here’s the thing: If someone doesn’t have time to meet you for a cup of coffee, he doesn’t have time for a real relationship. Real love requires two things: 1)time, and 2)an in-person encounter. Relieve yourself of any pressure by not building up so much hype. Exchange messages for a week and then meet. Keep it easy peasy.

4.Make the rest of your life awesome.

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Your entire life should not revolve around dating. If you have awesome friends, passion projects, a creative life, and people who you love, then there’s no pressure to find a romantic partner. Sure, you can want to attract someone in your life, but that person can’t become your entire life. The more you remember to get out and have fun, the less stressed you’ll feel when meeting someone new. There will be less pressure, and because of this, the date will be less awkward.

5.Focus on what you can give, not on what you can get.

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Dating apps have taken the romance out of dating. You get to select your ideal match’s height, religion, and location. You get to scan through pools of people, filtering through vegans, unemployed, or potential dates who don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re. 

That being said, not only is this approach not going to help you find love, it takes the magic out of dating! Instead of scanning profiles and trying to figure out if your date is worthy of your love, flip the script! Before walking into the coffee shop, say a prayer: I want to spread positivity. I want to resonate love.

Whether your date is attractive, or even the slightest bit interesting isn’t the point. The point is that you have an opportunity: an hour to connect with another human being. Even if he doesn’t look like his picture, or he can’t stop rambling about his hairless cats, you can choose to show up with grace, ease, and love. You can wish him all the best, whether you want to see him or not. You can respond to his messages with kindness. Use dating as a chance to show up as your best self. 

What if dating was just part of your mindfulness practice? What if meeting for coffee was just an opportunity to meet someone new and brighten their day? What if you could be calm and feel joyful in any situation, even a first date?

It’s not only possible, it’s the secret to dating. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that first dates are inherently awkward. Instead, choose to be present and loving. Choose to be interested and know that your date is just a human being looking for the same thing you are: a true connection, and that’s a beautiful thing.