Going on a romantic date for the first time is the kind of thing that creates jitters. Whether you're the one who asked someone out, or you're the one being asked out on a date, you’re likely to be crippled by worry about everything: what to wear, what to talk about, how to evade awkwardness, what mistakes to avoid, how the date will go, etc.
But, ideally, dates should be fun.
The person you’re going out with is a human being with quirks, faults, guilty pleasures, just like you. An attraction to someone often creates the illusion of perfection in them, and by going on a date, you want to do all you can to impress them. Thinking of them as a human-like you relieves you from the pressure of performing and allows you to enjoy the date.
There is a tendency to overcompensate for one’s anxiety by choosing an expensive place, but the location of the date should be one that allows for a good conversation. Expensive restaurants are not the only options for a date. There are café shops, pizza stores, parks, bars, and not-so-expensive restaurants. Cinema dates also help people warm up to each other, and provide a conversation starter. The more casual the environment, the higher the possibility for an engaging conversation, and the less the anxiety of being in a new environment. Also, if you're being asked out on a date, you have to ensure that the location agreed on is a comfortable place, a place you can vouch for, or an open space.
The trick is to choose an outfit that looks great and is very comfortable. Except the date happens immediately after work hours, in which case both of you would be dressed in work attire, you should go for an outfit that you’re comfortable in and doesn’t scream sophistication.
The best illustration for effective conversations is tennis. It takes two people who are committed to the back and forth, to make it happen. Likewise, it takes two to have a good conversation. It happens by listening, being genuinely interested in the person, and asking relevant questions, even as you also share about yourself.
You've likely read several listicles on questions to ask your date. They range from small talk like “where do you work?” to more intense/personal talk. Although they can be useful pointers to conversation starters, holding on to them in the middle of a date can prevent the natural flow of the conversation.
There’s a possibility that you have such high expectations of how the date will go — the chemistry, the smoothness of the conversations. Having expectations (sometimes unrealistic) of how the date should go might make you frustrated when you sense that the date isn’t flowing in that direction.
Chances are you're already attracted to this person and had waited long enough to ask them out. Or you're very excited that someone has found you date-worthy. Coupled with raging hormones, this could be a perfect recipe for bringing up inappropriate topics, making an elaborate gesture, or throwing away any form of personal boundaries – Don’t! Focus on getting to know the person. Also, obtain the consent of your date before taking things to another level.
Nothing kills a two-way interaction more than someone who is not 'actively there'. Often, this 'absence' from the date comes from anxiety or being easily distracted. Put your phone on silent mode, quit looking about or worrying about how the date is going and actually focus on the person in front of you.
Oversharing is, very simply, saying too much too soon. Although it might be tempting, especially if your date is a good listener and things get on really fast, your date doesn't need to know about your trauma, your uncomfortable past, or very private information.
Dates can go bad really fast. With predators online, there is a chance that your date isn't who you think they are and might want to harm you. Or maybe they don't want to harm you, but the date has gotten really awkward. It's always important, for reasons like this, to have an escape plan — someone who calls you 30 minutes into the date, a fake allergy — to excuse yourself from the date.