I love first dates because they are bridges into to the unknown. In our search for a partner, mate, lover, spouse, and/or teammate, the first date is like the great unknown — so much possibility and potential energy, so many things to discover and uncover. The unknown is where anxiety and excitement intersect, and often we can get caught up in one or the other.
Here are five things to help you manage that delicate balance and make sure your first date is as meaningful as possible.
1. Don't over-Google.
Nothing can kill first date mojo like a thorough background check or a police dossier on your date. Sure, the unknown can be scary, and of course you want to make sure they're really 32 and not 52, but a CIA-level investigation can really kill the romance and spontaneity. Also, you can't Google the things that will ultimately matter most, like your date’s ability to communicate, or the presence of sexual chemistry.
If you're curious about their history of lying or cheating, you can't really Google those either. To truly get to know someone authentically takes time, and there's no sense in getting ahead of oneself.
2. Don't forget what you've learned in your past relationships.
Past relationships almost always inform our present and future relationships. Whether you've had your heart broken or you've broken hearts, you've hopefully learned something when it comes to romantic entanglements. Apply your learning. Your past mistakes are your greatest assets. Hopefully you have a better sense of who you are and what you're looking for. (To be clear, I don’t mean talk about your exes and exchange war stories.) Just trust that you know how to enjoy someone else's company!
3. Be playful — but don't be afraid to ask pointed questions.
You should be curious about and interested in the person sitting in front of you. After all, you're trying to evaluate whether or not this person could be your significant other or bedfellow. Besides making for good conversation, having an open dialogue is fundamental in any dating practice. And by the way, if it's just about sex, then asking questions is equally important. Don’t expect them to tell you everything, though. Savor that mystery — you may miss it when you’re years into a relationship.
4. Don't ignore red flags. (Or body language!)
There are three things you should listen to on a first date: everything your date says, everything they don't say, and their body language. Communication happens in surround sound. Really pay attention, and don't just focus on the things you like and ignore the things you don't. Also don't assume you can fix and change the latter down the line.
5. Be honest with yourself about how this person makes you feel.
We can over-analyze a first date and intellectualize it. Sometimes our brains override our hearts. It's important to check in with your heart and really see how this person made you feel, not just what you “thought" about him or her. They might be great on paper, but you felt they were arrogant or withdrawn. Maybe they don't check your boxes, but you were fully turned on by the conversation. Having an open heart and access to our emotions is necessary when it comes to dating. Sometimes the brain has no jurisdiction when it comes to matters of the heart.