Have A First Date Coming Up? A Relationship Expert On 5 Things To Remember
Summer is here, places are opening up again, and plenty of singles are dipping their toes back into the dating pool. And you know what that means: first dates. Exciting but somewhat nerve-wracking; there's a lot riding on that first encounter. So, we asked board-certified clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, for her top tips to keep in mind as you move from online dating to head into a first date:
1. Get centered.
Pre-date jitters are real! Take some time to get centered as you're on your way to the date. "Take a couple of deep breaths and let yourself feel open and honest," Hallett recommends. Consider trying box breathing, and get into a mindset of simply being yourself. Authenticity in dating is everything.
And remember, Hallett adds, "It's a first date—have fun."
2. Know your nonnegotiables.
Have you given thought to your deal-breakers and non-negotiables? They're important! If they seemingly meet your standards, great. But if not, "Just recognize this is not the person for you," Hallett says.
If you don't want to date someone who smokes, doesn't have the same faith as you, or anything else that really matters, don't expect them to change for you, she says.
(Here are some good first date questions to really help you see if you and your date are on the same page.)
3. Watch for red flags.
Practice active listening, and avoid being swept up in the excitement of a first date. Simply try to be aware of any red flags that might be related to your non-negotiables, Hallett says.
"Pay attention to what they say they want. If they're into a hookup and you're looking for forever, it's not the right relationship," she notes, adding, "You're not going to convince them by being the 'right' one."
4. Check in with how you're feeling.
For some people, the thrill of someone liking you can overshadow how you actually feel about them. "If you're focused on trying to please or impress them," Hallett explains, "that's not going to work."
Instead of trying to impress on the first date, just be real and notice how you feel about yourself when you're with them, she says. "If you're comfortable and enjoying yourself, that's awesome."
5. Hold your boundaries.
And lastly, remember your personal boundaries and hold to them, Hallett recommends, "whether that's not eating meat or holding off on sex." Similarly, if they seem super into you, but you're not feeling it, remember you're not obligated to return their interest, she adds. Stay true to yourself.
The bottom line is: while first dates can be anxiety-inducing, they don't have to be. Whether or not a second date becomes an option, if you go into the first with openness and honesty, you can always say you put your best foot forward and gave it your best shot.
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