First dates are pretty much known for one thing — nerves. And those nerves can leave you feeling less than great, and wondering how to act like yourself on a first date. Because unless you're the chillest person to have ever lived, you'll definitely be suffering from some personality-suppressing jitters.
It's totally normal, and yet obviously not the most ideal way to spend your evening. Nobody wants to feel waves of anxiety, especially on a night that's supposed to be fun. And nobody wants to give off the wrong first impression, due to an over abundance of anxiety.
So where does the oh-so-common first date nervousness come from? I think there are two reasonable explanations: our expectations, and our rules. Everyone goes into a first date with the highest of expectations, hopes, and dreams. It's enough to make anybody nervous. But we also go into dates with our brains full of rules from friends, from our moms, and from the internet. What to wear, what to say, what to eat — it can all get a little bit overwhelming, and it doesn't leave much room for your true self to shine through.
That's why it's so important to throw all of that to the wind, and show up on your first date free of all that baggage, worry, and anxiety. If you do, you'll be able to act like truest self, and maybe even have a good time. Here are some ways to do just that.
1. Wear Whatever Feels Comfortable
If you love getting all dolled up for dates, then go for it. Dress to the nines, and do you thing. But if the thought of teetering around in heels sounds less than ideal, then it's also totally OK to wear something less dressy. The goal here is to feel your best, while being comfy, and expressing your style — whatever that may be.
2. Give Yourself A Pep Talk
It's perfectly normal to feel nervous before a first date, so let the butterflies fly. Just don't get so nervous that you can no longer have a good time. If it feels like it's heading in that direction, take some time to relax before going out. "Prior to the date, give yourself an empowering pep talk, take deep breaths, listen to your favorite tunes, and remind yourself that your date is only as important as you make it," said relationship coach Rachel Dack, MS, LCPC, NCC, on eHarmony.com. That should put you in the right frame of mind to march off with confidence.
3. Choose A Fitting Venue
Agree on a date location that matches your personality and mood for the evening. Feeling kind of chill? Go hang out in a jazzy, moody bar. Feel like dancing and being flirty? Head out to a fun bar. Just be sure that the spot fits both your personalities. That way you'll both feel comfortable, and be more able to have fun.
4. Don't Play The "Do They Like Me?" Game
Whatever you do, don't sit across from your date and try to judge how well the evening is going. You'll only drive yourself crazy, and act more nervous or shy as a result. To stave this off, remember the date is about both of you. As Dack said, "The nature of dating is not one-sided, so let go of any 'does she or he like me?' type thoughts and bring your attention back to learning about your date and figuring out if you are interested as well."
5. Resist The Urge To Lie
If you see this date going anywhere long-term, then resist the urge to lie about your life, your hobbies, your favorite music, etc. "If your first date turns into a relationship, you’ll be found out, and it’s not the best way to build trust for the future," said Ana Wilde on Soulmates.TheGuardian.com. It's best to either evade unwanted questions, or fess up to the truth.
6. Be Down To Disagree
People often feel like they have to be undyingly agreeable on first dates, and of course that's sweet. But don't do it at the expense of your beliefs and opinions. "If your date says something — regarding politics, religion, or even just the décor of the restaurant — and you think [they are] flat out wrong, open up a friendly debate about it," said Julia Austin on MadameNoir.com. You'll feel like your truer self if you share what's on your mind.
7. Don't Hide Your Baggage
I hope your first date is fun and lighthearted. However, if some serious sh*t comes up, let it go there. You don't have to give this person your whole life story, but if you feel comfortable sharing, go right ahead. It's just you being your most honest self, and there's nothing wrong with that.
8. Don't Hide Your Quirks, Either
In the same vein, resist the urge to hide your quirks. I know, there's the desire to be on your "best" behavior, and you may equate that with hiding your quirks and eccentricities. And yet, the right person will find them endearing AF. All the more reason to stay true to yourself.
9. Be Your Funny, Social Self
Don't tone down your chatty, sarcastic, witty self — even if you're in the fanciest (or quietest) of restaurants. "Do you like to make chit chat with servers? Or with the neighboring tables? If you’re a social person, be social ... It’s just how you are and [it's] good for [your date] to know," Austin said.
10. Do Whatever Feels Comfortable
There aren't any rules when it comes to dating, despite what people may say. I'm talking about things like "don't kiss on the first date," or "don't eat anything that will give you bad breath." Because really, who cares? If you want to make out, do it. If you want to eat French onion soup, go for it. And on the flip side, don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you don't want to go back to their place, don't. Stay within your comfort zone, and you'll be happy.
11. Eat Whatever You Want
If you want a salad, have a salad. If you want the aforementioned French onion soup, then by all means, slurp away. And if you want a juicy burger with cheese oozing out the sides, then eat that burger with pride. My point is, it doesn't matter what you eat on a date, as long as it's exactly what you want. A worthwhile date will appreciate your desire to stick to a diet, or feed the beast.
That's the essential moral of the story — do whatever you want on a first date, and you'll likely have a good time, and feel like you really represented your truest self.
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