·Dress comfortably and in clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure you and your date are on the same page about the style of dress for your date. In my own dating days, I showed up for a second date in a nice oxford shirt and jeans to then find my other half dressed to the nines in a French suit not realizing his intentions for the evening. It made for a very embarrassing moment and he cancelled the reservations he'd made for us for dinner at a ritzy, fine-dining establishment. He then changed into more casual clothes and took me to a family restaurant instead. Ouch! His image of me instantly changed and he stopped seeing me after that. He did us both a favor by ending things, but at the time it was quite humiliating. So be clear to avoid any miscommunication.
DURING THE DATE
·Be punctual and relax. No matter how attracted you may be to the man sitting across from you, it is your responsibility to be yourself--avoid trying to put up a façade and be someone you're not to try to impress your date. You are great just as you are. Let him get to know the real you; otherwise, you're engaging in a form of deception that will only come back to bite you later. Be authentic and eventually you'll be rewarded with a truly compatible partner.
·Be attentive to your date. Show respect by maintaining good eye contact and don't let those eyes stray if there are other attractive men in the room. Have an open posture and let your nonverbal communication and body language convey interest in learning about your date. Stay out of your own head and shut off those distracting thoughts; really listen to what he's saying. Balance active listening with sharing things about yourself. Ask open-ended questions to gain more elaboration on points made in your discussion to stretch out conversations and learn more about your date. This is especially effective if you're feeling shy or are short on things to say because it gets the other person talking more, allowing for more tidbits that you can start other dialogues about. Be positive and let your sense of humor shine through.
·Avoid controversial topics of discussion as these may be offensive to your date. You can ease into these the more you get to know him. Avoid alcohol, as this may alter your behavior, and stay away from sexual content and innuendo. Unless sex is the motivation for your date, introducing sexual talk into your first date can set the tone in an inappropriate direction. Discussions about sex and sexual preferences can come later after you've been able to establish more of a genuine, mature connection. Questions like "Are you a top or a bottom?" may appear crass at a first meeting and may cause an unfavorable impression of you to form in your date's mind and image of you.
AFTER THE DATE
·Whether your date was a smash hit or a disaster, exercise good manners and thank your new acquaintance for the date. If you'd like to see him again, state this and call him in a day or so to ask him out again. Don't get caught up in the whole dating game of "How many days should I hold off to call him to avoid looking desperate?" or "I'm going to let him be the one to call me." If you like him, take charge of your life and make that call. If you didn't feel a "love connection" with the guy, thank him for the date and kindly and tactfully tell him that it's not a match. While this may be extremely difficult, it's always best to be honest and direct in a gentle, polite way. If you'd like to try to develop a friendship instead, suggest that. But be honest and direct and don't tell him you'll call him again if you really have no intention of doing so. That's cruel.
·Do some de-briefing after your date and reflect on your conduct, as well as your date's, and perhaps journal about the experience. How did you feel? How did you manage yourself during the date? What would you have changed? What went well? What did you learn about yourself as a result of this date? How would you rate the date and the guy you met? From what you can tell so far, is there compatibility with your personal requirements and vision for a life partner? Is he matching up thus far with your needs, wants, goals, and values?
Dating can be a nerve-wracking, daunting task, particularly with the absence of dating education available to us as gay men. What traditions and roles that our heterosexual counterparts have for dating are applicable for us, if any? What are we supposed to do?
The key is to have fun with dating and take a light approach. Dating is both an art and a science in my belief, combining common sense decision-making with self-awareness of what one wants and needs for a happy and fulfilling lifestyle. When your dating behavior is in alignment with your values and vision for a relationship, you'll be living with integrity and will be able to approach all your dates with a more relaxed tone and confident demeanor. It will make the process much more easy-going and rewarding. Cheers to your dating success!
© Dr. Brian L. Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach