Whether you’ve known them for years or haven’t met in person yet, first date can be nerve-wracking. As the hours count down to when you’re planning to meet, your brain may be running wild. Will this date be the start of a relationship or is it about to be a train wreck?
Of course, you can’t know for sure until all is said and done. But getting ready and being prepared can help calm at least some of the nerves. Here are a few tips to make the first date experience more enjoyable.
1. Have a Safety Plan
Part of the fun of dating is the excitement of meeting someone new. Whether you met on an app or out and about, it’s important to remember this person may be a stranger. And that warrants taking some precautions to ensure you’re as safe as possible before diving in.
Vet Your Date
Assuming you have their first and last name, there’s no harm in doing some identity verification before making plans. A quick search online can bring up their social media profiles and may flag any criminal history, too. While a full background check is likely unnecessary, remember to trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s nothing wrong with refusing a date and moving on or leaving early.
Choose a Smart Location
Where you plan to meet up can be crucial for safety. Pick a spot that’s in public and plan to meet there. That way, your date doesn’t know where you live and you can easily leave if you need or want to. While you’re at it, share your location and plans with a friend, so they can keep tabs on you, too. It may seem over-precautious at first, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Prioritize Your Physical Safety
There are also physical safety measures you can take. Carrying pepper spray for protection and planning dates when it’s still light out are good calls. If you’re expecting to be physically intimate, taking care of things like contraception in advance can give you peace of mind. If you’re pressed for time, consider online birth control to streamline the process and guarantee you always have your prescriptions when you need it.
All of these measures can help set you up for a successful first date. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, you’ll have confidence that you prepared for a safe date to the best of your ability. From there, you can focus on enjoying yourself and getting to know your date.
2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Thirty minutes feels like enough time to get ready for a date. And then you realize the pants you want to wear need to be steamed. You’re missing one of the shoes you envisioned with your outfit. The dog needs to go out. Before you know it, you’re running ten minutes behind and still have five things to do.
Instead, give yourself roughly double the amount of time you think you’ll need. That allows for outfit changes and last-minute meditation. You can also keep an eye on traffic or call a ride share without feeling rushed.
Plus, if you end up with extra time on your hands, you can call or facetime a friend. They can help you make final decisions and talk through anything you’re nervous about. They may even have some fun dating stories of their own to share. It also creates a natural segue to catching up after you get back.
3. Come Up with a Few Conversation Topics
Knowing what to talk about with someone new can be awkward. You don’t want to have a cookie-cutter conversation that they’ve likely had with a dozen other dates. But you also don’t want to get too personal too quickly or ask awkward questions. That’s what makes having a few topics in your back pocket a great way to ease the stress.
Simple questions are your best friend. Consider ones that are engaging, can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, and keep the conversation moving. A few examples of what you can ask include:
- What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
- How did you meet your best friend?
- Why do you like/dislike your job?
- What’s the first thing you would do if someone gave you a million dollars?
- Is there a particular food or meal that reminds you of someone you love?
It’s even better if you have a fun story to share related to a question you ask. While it’s not necessary to be crazy prepared for a date — remember, it’s not an interview — it can help. If it’s a good fit, the conversation will flow, and you’ll leave a mark for being interesting. Win-win.
Don’t Force it
Remember that dating is about finding the right match for you. You’ll want to align on what you’re looking for, have similar core beliefs, and be comfortable with one another. But that’s not going to happen immediately.
You will need to build a relationship over time and learn about one another along the way. It won’t all happen at once. So, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is just the first step. It may be the first of many, or it may be the first and last. The only way to know is to take the leap and go on the date.