First dates can be a time of extreme trepidation, complete with sweaty palms and nervous twitches. No matter if you’re the guy or the girl on a first date, the main responsibility is to keep the conversation moving so things don’t start getting awkward.
It can be hard to do that, however, if you feel like any moment you may pass out. Even worse, once a situation starts feeling socially awkward, it usually operates like a vicious spiral, trapping you in a vortex of awkwardness that can be hard to get out of.
To help keep awkwardness from happening, here are ten tips to help you keep the conversation going.
1. Ask Emotional Questions
One of the best things you can do on any date to kill the awkwardness is to simply form an emotional connection with the person that you’re talking. Even though this might not be the right time to talk to them about their favorite pet that died, you can still ask them about why they chose their job or why they decided to live where they did.
Breathe. No matter what, you will get out of this first date alive, so remember to relax and enjoy the moment. If you’re tense, it’s a virtual guarantee that your date will feel awkwardness as well, so take a moment, relax, and enjoy your time together. After all, they’re out with you in the first place, so they must have found something about you that they like.
3. Avoid Negative Subjects
First dates have enough awkwardness with them without talking about subjects that are naturally contentious, such as politics or death. Avoid the temptation to dip into your rough childhood background simply to make conversation fodder.
4. Repeat What Was Just Said
If you can’t think of anything else to say when your date is talking, simply restate what they just said back to them. Not only will it give you something to say, it will also prove to them that you were listening.
5. Avoid Interview Questions
First dates are a time to get to know one another but remember you’re not interviewing each other for a formal position as your new boyfriend or girlfriend. Avoid “checklist” type questions that do nothing but create a tense atmosphere.
6. Kill Negative Self-Talk
To avoid awkwardness, spend some time reminding yourself of the simple fact that they are out with you in the first place. Telling yourself over and over again how they’re better than you or how much you’re going to fail will only set you up for failure. To avoid awkwardness, tell yourself before you arrive how much fun you’re going to have and how great the evening will be.
At the very least, smile at the person you’re talking to even if you’re stressed out on the inside. Eventually, the personality that you show the other person will begin to infiltrate your spirit and cause you to loosen up, freeing up the conversation and helping the date to flow smoothly.
8. Be Interested in Them
You have to be genuine on a first date, but expect that they will be as well. As Henry Cloud once pointedly said: “Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are. If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.” Be yourself and be genuinely interested in who they are as well.
9. Don’t Over-Plan
It can be easy to spend way too long game planning for your upcoming date, over-engineering what you’re going to wear as well as what you’re going to talk. The problem with that is the moment things begin to deviate off of your planned route, it’ll stress you out and create tension. One of the best ways to avoid awkwardness is to expect the unexpected in any conversation. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!
10. Ask For a Pep Talk
If you are severely stressed out about your first date, there’s no shame in calling up one of your trusted friends and asking for a quick pick-me-up. A few words of encouragement may just be precisely what you need to get your mind on track.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it should give you a good starting point on how to move forward with your first dates. It’s best not to try to memorize every single one of them and force them into the situation, but work them in naturally as they’re recalled to your mind.
Take heart in the simple fact that first dates will eventually become less socially awkward the more experience you have with them. The awkwardness will slowly start to drift away, and before you know it, you may just find yourself genuinely enjoying the moment.
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