Hana Shafi We All Suck at First Dates

I don’t think there’s anyone in the history of the universe who has ever been asked if they were nervous about a first date and has wholeheartedly answered "no, I’m so excited!” And if you’re that person then fuck you, because the rest of us are consumed by sweaty palms, dry mouths, or really weird nervous laughs. Some of us are good at concealing it. Others, like myself, opt to rambling on about some totally pointless story in an attempt to avoid those painful awkward lulls. 

As usual I conducted some top notch psychological research (through my usual medium, the annoying Facebook status), so I could prove that I’m not the only one who feels a twinge of terror at the prospect of a first date. It seems that the biggest fear is “being awkward.” And it made me realize that if a huge amount of people have this fear that they’re going to come off as awkward or weird, well then it’s likely that their date feels the same (unless they happen to be an excessively charming, perfectly sociable cyborg; in that case, consider not dating a cyborg). 

The second one was worrying about what to talk about, a fear I can completely relate too. I will shamefully admit that I am guilty of thinking of conversation topics and good anecdotes beforehand. If the date is good, I won’t have to use any of those. But I can’t risk being caught in the death grip of an awkward silence by assuming we would have some instant connection. So yeah, maybe I do think of things to talk about beforehand; believe me, sometimes it will save your life. Either that, or you frantically text a friend to call you with some dramatic "problem."

Other worries included the usual: hair out of place, something in the teeth, do I look good enough today? The fact of the matter is that first dates are always going to make people nervous, especially if bad experiences in the past have convinced you that you’re romantically-cursed. But we can also find solace in the fact that as common as it is to be nervous, it is equally universal that the pressure we put on ourselves, and the overwhelming amount of self-criticism that so many of us often indulge in, is usually a lot worse than the expectations of that other person. Nine times out of ten, you’re your own worst critic. If the person on the other end of this date actually likes you and is genuinely interested in you, a few awkward lulls or clumsy stumbles are not suddenly going to change their mind. And if it does, well, like I said, do you really want to date a cyborg?

I seriously doubt that anyone ever gets good at dealing with first dates. Remember to never assume that a bad experience in the past will forever set the precedent of all future first dates. Take the plunge and see where it takes you. Avoid any food with spinach, and you’re good to go. 

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