How to Act Naturally on a First Date
- Thursday, February 09, 2012
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: It’s been a while since I’ve been on a “first date” with someone. I have one coming up, and I’m freaking out. Help! How can I calm down and act naturally? This is so crazy. I feel like a teenager again.
HE SAID: One thing you need to realize about a “first date” is you’ve already accomplished the hardest part of dating—getting a date in the first place. That means the other person is already interested enough to want to spend time with you.
Don’t put additional pressure on yourself by allowing your mind to wander off into the wedding planning stage. This is only a first date which means it is just a time for each of you to get to know one another, leave the best impression possible (without embellishing) and to see if both of you would want to go on a second date. That’s it.
To help with the anxiety, why don’t you try “practicing” for the date by talking to strangers? You’d be amazed at the confidence you can build by doing it.
Begin with sales people, grocery clerks, ticket agents, bus riders, or whoever you meet. Most of them are not there to have a conversation or to get to know you, so if you can succeed with getting to know something about them or making them smile, the better prepared you will be.
On your date, try to quickly find some commonality between the two of you by asking questions. Discovering interests, activities or dreams you share will put you both at ease, and it’s always best to discuss something you know and are passionate about.
Make an effort to not set the bar or your expectations too high for this one date. It won’t mean you don’t care nor want the relationship to develop into something more; it will just allow you to give and accept grace for the awkwardness that is associated with being with someone for the first time in this kind of situation.
In the end, be yourself and don’t let the other person determine who you are.
SHE SAID: Ah yes. The first date. It can either paralyze you, be an experience that will help you gather information about someone else, or just provide you with a free meal (and believe me, I’ve had plenty of dates like the latter!).
I know it sounds like it should be easy-breezy, but sometimes it’s just not. I’ve fretted before many a first date and become consumed with what I needed to do or not to do to make a guy like me. But sometime in my later dating years, it dawned on me that whatever person God has in store for me . . . well I can make just about any social foible or say the wrong thing and this person will still be interested in me, because God is sovereign and in control of it all.
Once I started thinking like that and realizing that that’s what I truly believed, I was able to exhale and just be myself. Yes, please just be yourself. After all, it’s important to be who you are and to see the other person’s true self if the two of you are making some important assessments about one another. If you’re tall, be tall . . . if you’re smart, be smart . . . if you’re goofy, be goofy. And then go from there.
In general, though, I would advise you (and anyone) to ask your date lots of questions. Lots. That will initially help you to calm down. Then, if you hear your date share an answer or make a comment about something or someone that you share in common or know in common, then by all means jump into the conversation and talk about it! This serves two purposes: 1) it gives your date an opportunity to hear from you and make some mental notes and 2) it gives you an opportunity to express yourself and share a personal story or two. Plus, when you talk about something you know, you most always will not be nervous and will have fun sharing. (P.S. I don't know if you're male or female, but I'll just say this: the way to a woman's heart is through her ears. So men out there, don't be afraid to chat it up if you are at all interested in the woman you are taking out for a first date!)
And lastly, but most importantly, bathe the matter in prayer. God wants us to present our requests to him (Philippians 4:6) . . . even first dates! So tell him what’s troubling you, and then thank him for hearing your plea and calming your anxious heart.
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.
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