We think about it for days before it actually takes place. We look forward to it, and yet we dread it as well. Why? Because a date is, to a certain extent, a risk. Yes, starting to invest your emotions and time on someone you know nothing about and opening yourself up to that person is risky business. On the other hand, the prospect of getting to know someone new and sharing your own thoughts and perspectives of life with them is also exciting, which is why we usually arrive on a first date with someone new smiling and feeling happy, but also kind of nervous, and perhaps afraid of botching it up. Of course, the other person is probably feeling exactly the same way, too.
Most people at this point try to appear and behave in a picture-perfect way. They put on their best manners, dress to impress and are pleasant, agreeable, and open to almost any suggestion. They don’t want to commit themselves by presenting strong opinions in order not to appear too pushy or bossy. Hiding one’s imperfections is all well and good – first impressions are quite important after all.
However, one must remember that if one goes on to a second date, a third, and then finally decide to start a relationship, all one’s personal foibles, little OCDs, paranoias and imperfections will eventually come out. Holding them back at first is perfectly normal and natural, however, I personally find cardboard-like characters fake, plain and down-right annoying, so even though everyone tries to appear their best during the first date, it’s very important to relax and remember that we’re all human.
Your date won’t run away if you stumble over your sentences out of nerves. The girl you like won’t judge you if you tell her you love taking your grandma out shopping; she’ll probably like you all the more for it. The guy you’re interested in won’t think you’re a slob or a killjoy if you admit you prefer spending some weekends on the couch in your PJs instead of partying like a crazy animal.
Of course, there are certain topics which, in my opinion, are to be avoided, at least during your first – or even your second – date. First of all, don’t launch into long convoluted stories concerning any of your exes. It’s ok, perhaps, to mention them in passing if they come up during the conversation, but going into a tirade about how unfair they were to you or how good they were in the sack is a definite no-no. That is, unless you want the other person to think that you’re still hung up on them and going out with them as a rebound, or unless you want to come across as someone who’s so emotionally scarred that they start feeling uncomfortable about opening up to you.
Another thing – don’t ask them how much money they make. Talking about one’s job or career aspirations is pretty normal and fine in a relaxed environment, however asking someone point blank about their bank account or going on and on about how important overtime is to you may either give the impression that you totally prioritise the size of someone’s wallet, or else that you’re a workaholic who’ll actually have no time to spend with a partner during a relationship.
Of course, everyone’s different, so it may be that the other person won’t be bothered at all if you ask point blank about certain personal matters. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. This is the crux, perhaps, of first dates. One must balance between being too curious and pushy, or else being so nervous and jaded as to not talk at all. Walking this tightrope is not easy, but one must remember to be true to one’s self. Never hold back or make believe you hold different interests or opinions just to appear more agreeable, more cool or more mainstream. In the end, remember that a partner should be someone who likes you and appreciates you just the way you really are, and not someone preferring your made-up social persona.
And of course, remember to have some fun too. After all, in the end, that’s what a date is all about.