First dates are always a little dicey. Not only are both parties nervous about making a good first impression, but there is really no way to prepare since you have no idea what the other person might be interested in (or offended by). And the fear of making blunders can often lead to the worst possible scenario: awkward silence. While you’re normally the gregarious type, amusing co-workers with funny jokes or off-color commentary on current events, you can’t seem to stop yourself from clamming up when you have a potential love-interest staring you in the face. Luckily, this common conundrum is easy to overcome if you follow a few simple steps to start your first date on the right foot.
1. Be yourself. Sure, you want the other person to like you, so you might be tempted to adopt some sort of persona that you feel is more impressive than your actual personality. But eventually you’re going to have to drop the act and show the real you anyway. Then what? You’d be better served to simply cut to the chase and let it all hang out (so to speak). That way you’ll know if the other person is really interested in you at all.
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2. Ask open-ended questions. There is nothing worse than working hard to carry on a conversation only to have the reciprocating party offer up monosyllabic answers. So ask questions that demand long-winded answers. “Tell me about your favorite hobby” or “describe your childhood home” are a couple that will not only get the other person talking, but may give you a lot of information about what kind of person you’re on a date with. And if you’re too timid to talk, this will free you up to listen. You never know; your date might just put you at ease enough that you’ll open up without even realizing it.
3. Relax! Don’t stress over a first date. Certainly it can put you in a heightened emotional state (oh, the possibilities!), but don’t count your chickens before they hatch. You don’t even know this person, and you definitely don’t know if you’ll like them, if you’re compatible, or if you will end up married with children. So keep an open mind going in, but don’t place undue expectations on what ultimately amounts to a gamble.
4. Change your attitude. When smokers quit, they often have to embrace a certain psychology by which they start referring to themselves as non-smokers. While it may sound a bit frou-frou, the truth is that the way we perceive things can color our thinking and make a real difference in how we behave. To that end, stop categorizing yourself as a shy person. Imagine your date going well, with you coming across as ebullient, charming, and funny if you want to have any chance of actually pulling it off.
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5. Hope for the best; expect the worst. This is a mantra not only for dating, but for life. While “expecting the worst” may seem a bit pessimistic, it will often save you from sinking into despair when things don’t work out. Tempering this attitude by “hoping for the best” will put you in the proper spirit to carry on a date. In short, it is a realistic (rather than idealistic) way to approach a first date, and it will help you to overcome some of the anxiety you may feel if you have a problem with shyness.
Darcy Johansan is a writer for The Pickup Artist where you can find great tips and advice on dating.