The 10 minutes before a first date, is usually the moment when I regret ever saying ‘yes’. I also resent my punctuality and wish that I’d rather arrived in a ‘fashionably-late’ manner; instead of awkwardly standing here, looking at my blank phone, pretending to be occupied. At least, I have an escape plan on standby.
Whether you’ve briefly met the person before or you’re meeting your 167th match on Tinder, you can never quite prepare yourself for how it’s going to turn out. I have come to realize just how exciting that part of dating is. First dates are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. What you thought was a salted caramel, turned out to be an orange coffee-creme filling.
That hot guy with the washboard-abs that ‘super-liked’ you, may have actually used pictures from 10 years ago and that guy who you were actually considering un-matching (because of his cheesy opening line) may turn out to be a Calvin Klein model with a cracking sense of humor. (And on the other-side, that girl with the boobs, may have taken advantage of a few socks, push-up bra and a beauty filter.) The point is: we can never accurately predict how this awkward meeting will turn out and we tend to be somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of not knowing what to expect.
First dates are essentially first impressions. We tend to form an opinion or judgement within the first 5 minutes of meeting a person; whether that’s in the context of a romantic date or a business encounter. No pressure right?
This sounds a lot easier than when you actually put it into practice. I am sure you can think of a past scenario, where you found yourself involuntarily acting awkward; using words/phrases that make no sense, realizing that your legs forgot how to walk or trying to be funny to the point of where you actually tell yourself to shut up .
“Just be yourself.” -(*eye roll) the most frequently heard advice given before any date. I have only recently come to understand and appreciate this advice. We have a tendency to want to ‘impress’ the other person on the first encounter. We immediately want them to see how great we are so that they can’t even think about running away. Without analyzing exactly ‘how’, we have to learn to just ‘be’. Be your authentic self, flaunt your sense of humor, embrace your flaws and show compassion to the person in front of you; who is most likely to be feeling exactly the same as you.
You can look at dating in three ways; the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s not talk about the ugly; “beauty is in eye of the beholder”
To put it simply, ‘the bad view’ of dating, is when you emphasize the daunting feeling of ‘putting yourself out there’ for someone to essentially judge you and decide if you are good enough for them. The social stress of having to communicate and carry out some form of interview style conversation with a stranger, whilst constantly being aware of how you are presenting yourself and filtering everything that comes out of your own mouth, is nothing but exhausting. At least, this was how I used to see dating.
Of course, you may also experience flat out bad dates; the ones where you walk away, hoping that someone jumps out with a camera saying: “Gotcha!“. No matter from which perspective you view the situation, it’s just a bad turn out. However, these experiences make for the best anecdotes that you will enjoy re-telling for years after. (Trust me!)
Like anything, the more you do something, the easier it gets. Of course, some people draw the lucky card and it’s game over after the first date. But there is also so much we can learn about ourselves in the process of getting to know other people. This is the ‘good-view’. I have been on my fair-share of first dates and I have met some incredible ambitious, passionate and genuine people who have shared their views and perspectives. Through these inconsequential/casual experiences, we also learned more about ourselves and what we are looking for.
You have to learn to distance yourself from whatever the outcome is and learn that your egos does not have to be nurtured by external circumstances. Achieving this, you will naturally let your social guards down and will be more inclined to fully enjoy and embrace the company of your ‘date’. (Assuming your best friend hasn’t already called with an emergency.)
We have to learn to change our approach to dating and to let go of any expectations; expectations of ourselves and of the person sitting opposite you. To trust ourselves to be our most authentic self, takes courage, sometimes heartache and maybe one or two awkward moments. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
Yours Truly Xx