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Single? How To Have A First Date Great (part 1)

I must admit I’m relieved that it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve “dated.” I guess technically I still “date” but I’ve been going out with the same guy for the past 22 years, and he happens to be my husband. But the kind of dating we’re talking about today is dating to find “the one”, not dating to keep him.

Dating often gets a bad rap. You hear horror stories of people misrepresenting themselves, or that there’s nowhere to find good people, or about over-the-top awkward scenarios, and certainly situations like that do exist. But in the overall, grand scheme of things, dating is not nearly as bad as some people might make it out to be. You just need a little practice and a bit of know-how going into it.

The need to have close connections is wired into us and that need never goes away. As you grow and develop, your need to connect goes beyond parents, to friends during adolescent years, and then to the search for an adult lover. Part of growing up is learning to transfer the need for that deep emotional bond to a peer–another adult that we can share life with. Our need to find a deep and meaningful connection is the process we generally call “dating.” Dating can bring fun, happiness, and excitement into your life, but it can also cause stress, worries, and heartache.

Currently, for better or for worse, I get to vicariously relive my dating years through my older children’s experiences, and through stories my therapy clients share in their quest for love. Whether you’re hitting the dating scene for the first time, or second, or third time, meeting someone new in a one-on-one setting can give even the most confident among nervous butterflies.

With first dates comes a mixture of excitement about the possibilities of meeting “the one” or at least having an enjoyable evening together, as well as anxieties about what to do if it isn’t a love connection. Such unknowns can cause even the most confident person to worry and question. What if there’s a lull in the conversation? What if there isn’t any chemistry? What if it’s extremely awkward? Well, that’s where I come in! Here are some tips to have a successful first date.

A first date is like a handshake when you’re first introduced to someone new. Consider meeting a newly hired co-worker. If they didn’t look you in they eye when introduced and if their hand was limp when it met yours, you’d likely feel slighted and put off. But if this co-worker bypassed your handshake and gave you a big hug that would also feel very uncomfortable! A first date, like a first handshake, is an extended “hello”.

Consider what puts you at ease when you first meet someone. For me, it’s someone who seems interested in what I have to say, who will look me in the eye, who shows some positive affect or pleasure in meeting me, someone who seems comfortable in their own skin. Your first date is your extended greeting, your introduction to this new relationship.


(Part 2 coming soon with specific tips for successful first dates)

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