When you get up the nerve to ask someone out and he or she says yes, you often breathe a sigh of relief and think the hardest part is done. Then, perhaps, it occurs to you that you actually have to GO on the date. You have to pick out something to wear and decide on an activity and then face that person out in the dating wild. I can’t help you with your nerves (and honestly, the nerves are sort of part of the fun) but I can give you a couple things to consider if your date involves a meal.
No need to be formal
Don’t think a first date has to include steak and lobster, silver candlesticks and white linen napkins, snooty waiters and three different forks. A casual seafood stand on the beach or burgers at a brew pub are great places to get to know each other. What’s most important is that you can talk easily (so avoid places where you have to scream to hear each other) and that you’ll be comfortable so that you can show your best self.
Hey Bruce, nice save.
Avoid sloppy fare
Ever had authentic Ethiopian food? You eat it with your hands. It’s delicious. Also super messy, and your hands will be fragrant for days. Same goes for food like ribs or buffalo wings. Perhaps a better fit for a second or third date when there’s less pressure, but not the first. Truly, any food has the opportunity to be messy, but at least set yourself up to be a tidy, neat dining companion.
Nothing too heavy
A 10-course French restaurant tasting menu may sound decadent and romantic–and it is, in theory–but it’s also guaranteed to make you feel stuffed, bloated, and exhausted afterwards. Not an ideal state to be in when you’re trying to look and feel your best in front of a potential partner.
Avoid pungent flavors
Garlic, onion, anchovy–make no mistake, I love to eat and I love strong flavors in my food. But. Not on a first date. It’s not unreasonable to expect a kiss (or makeout session, heyyy) at the end of a first date that’s gone well. This is hardly a new thought, but having once been smooched for the first time by someone who’d just eaten a large amount of garlic (ewwww), I think it bears repeating. Avoid foods that are super strong in flavor and scent.
When accidents happen…
Upend a bowl of chili on your lap? Knock over a bottle of red wine onto the white linen tablecloth? Don’t panic. How your date perceives you after you’ve displayed your inner klutz will be deeply influenced by how you yourself act. Laugh about it. Acknowledge its awkwardness. “Wow, that is embarrassing, can’t take me anywhere,” followed by a genuine smile and a disarming shrug–she’ll love you for it. Trust me. You don’t have to actually feel like it’s no big deal (feel free to bang your head against the wall once you get home) but acting like it will go a long, long way. She’ll follow your lead and find you cute and easy to be with.
Bird lands on your head? Stye in your eye? Shake it off.
Drink in moderation
If you’re a drinker, you may be tempted to use booze to calm your first date nerves. This is a dangerous game, my friends. Two drinks. Unless you’re Andre the Giant, two drinks is your max on a first date. Too much can go wrong when you’re tipsy and nervous. And really, you don’t need to get rid of your anxiety. You’re supposed to be a little nervous. It’s normal. It shows you’re invested. Embrace it as part of this experience of finding love.
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