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Aleteia

A guide to making your first date successful

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From how to plan the meeting, to what to bring, to how to mentally prepare ... this guide has it all.

First dates can be challenging, but don’t let your nerves get in the way. Prepare for your date in advance; that way, you’ll be able to overcome imaginary situations that do nothing more than increase your fear.

If you have problems with nervous sweating, cotton is a good ally. Bring little handkerchiefs to dry your hands (before shaking hands with your date). And wear a 100-percent cotton shirt under your top or sweatshirt so that it will absorb any nervous trickles.

Pick a good spot for the first date

The date place has to be favorable for both of you. If you want to have a long conversation, it’s better not to choose a bar that has only high seats; they are made for sitting for about 15 minutes, and then you’ll want to get up. Nor is it good to pick a lounge bar with sofas that are miles away from each other. Make sure the music at the place will still let you have a conversation.

If you go out to lunch, pick the table that suits you both best, not one that is just a hands-breadth away from the next one. It’s best to have a bit of intimacy unless you want the others to hear what you’re saying.

Is your date a vegetarian? Gluten intolerant? Does she like raw foods? Take it into account. And the same for you, but don’t make the other person follow your diet.

Gather information

Social networks can reveal a lot about the other person. But you can also talk to shared friends, work colleagues … as long as it’s not creepy, she will appreciate that you took an interest in getting to know more about her before the date.

Look for insights on your shared interests: movies, sports, travel, music, TV series … You can always turn to the news or to the next event in the city.

Decide on your objective

Truly, if your objective is to find a wife, and she realizes that intention from the first minute, it’s quite possible that she will run for the hills. You should leave some freedom to the other person: that date is not your last chance on earth.

It’s best to have some patience. Focus your date on getting to know her and letting her get to know you as well. Let both of you decide on the next step, not just you.

If you think of the date as a first step and nothing more, open to friendship or perhaps a stronger relationship, then you can establish what it is that you would like to happen today: what do you want her to know about you that you haven’t shared before? Do you want her to tell you about how she views the meaning of life … ?

Thoughts that can help you relax

  • The other person is like you and maybe has even more reasons than you do for feeling nervous. Help her to relax.
  • This time it will go well, better than you were expecting.
  • The other person said yes to the date and is interested in getting to know you.
  • The other person is not an ogre, nor is she going to cut you to pieces. She’s not out to prove you wrong.
  • The other person is not going to laugh at you if something goes wrong, because she is respectful — or isn’t she? If she is not a respectful person, why do you want to be with her?
  • No one ever said important things wouldn’t be hard. Look at the sign that the famous chef Dabiz Muñoz put over the entrance to the kitchen at his restaurant, Diverxo: No pain, no gain. So it’s normal for it to be hard for you. But go for it.

Remember two positive aspects about yourself

Focus on your strong points, particularly two:

  1. A positive aspect of your trajectory. What is there in your life that you feel proud of? I’m not talking about a degree from MIT, but an achievement that you really feel proud of: having paid for your degree with your side job, the day you faced down a bully, a sports trophy …
  2. A positive aspect of your personality. What part of your temperament do you think is the best? And your character? Or perhaps the most outstanding aspect is that you were able to change something. “Before, I was a real mess and now I would not be embarrassed if you saw my room by surprise.”

A date is not a Last Judgment nor is it the End of the World

Don’t pin all your hopes on this date as if it were the last you will ever have in life or as if everything depended on it. Relax, because every year has 365 days and there will be other opportunities. Take it as a learning experience. The next will be better if this one doesn’t go well.

And if it goes horribly? Well, not to worry: a date is just a date. Life goes on and there will be more.

Don’t expect to know everything about the other person after a first date.

And don’t expect someone to fall madly in love with you (sometimes there is a spark, but usually there is first some interest and then a friendship, especially if we are talking about people over age 30).

Dangers to avoid

Don’t turn the date into an interrogation. Of course you’re dying to know how the other person is, but you don’t want them to feel like their first date was like a close encounter with the Mossad or the MI6. Don’t be exhausting or endlessly curious.

Don’t just talk about yourself. Don’t fill the conversation with your achievements, your opinions, your political position, your funny stories … Leave space for the other person to contribute to the conversation. If you give your opinion about something, ask for hers as well. If you tell her something about your character, ask her about her own.

Discovery is beautiful

When an explorer goes into the jungle, it’s no fun if everything is visible from the start. Let the conversation unfold naturally between the two of you. Don’t try to tie everything up from the start.

If you can’t think of anything to start off

Try talking about how you go to the point of going on a date: the mutual friend who introduced you, the gym where you met, the Facebook group, the school … It helps to talk about it because you know that the two of you both have something to say about it.

Show gratitude

Express your gratitude to the person who made your date possible, or the incident that allowed you to meet. Let the other person see that you are happy that they came into your life. Positive point. And thank the other person for having come out on the date.

Be sincere

Don’t put up a front. A psychiatrist friend of mine told me that a patient came to his office because he was very worried. He had met a woman architect on social media, and he had not yet finished his studies in architecture but he wanted to “be at her level” to impress her, so he lied. After some time went by, she proposed having a real date and he realized that that lie had endangered the future of their relationship. He had to take it back and set the record straight.

Show yourself as you are, with your virtues and defects. Say openly what you think the other person should know about you.

Don’t be afraid to show your wounds

Mr. Perfect doesn’t exist. If a man talks only about his virtues and achievements, she might wonder afterward what hidden defects he might be hiding. It’s best to reveal your “humanity” and let her decide if she can be the  person to heal you — who knows, for a lifetime.

Be ready to change your plans

If you wanted to pay but she insists on paying her half, give in.

If there are moments of silence, let them happen. In normal conversations, there are moments of relaxation.

If things go very differently from what you had planned — she arrives late, she wants to change the place — accept it. At bottom, life is a constant change of plans.

This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.

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