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Planning The Perfect First Date
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Planning the Perfect First Date

Too often, people approach the first date as a way to impress the other person and thereby secure a second date. No wonder we all stress out when it comes to planning this initial encounter. Talk about pressure... What the first date actually should be is a means of getting to know one another and seeing if both of you are even interested in going out again.

A quick Google search will undoubtedly leave you with dozens of ridiculous first date ideas. Sure, skydiving is a creative outside-the-box activity; let me grab my parachute and call my pilot. You'll get a lot further in today's dating scene if you ignore everyone's list of "killer dates" and focus on learning how to plan a date for yourself anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. That is the focus of this article.

The Right Attitude

Before the big day arrives, make sure you keep the right attitude. You may not meet your soul mate on the date, but you can still have a good time. People tend to give up on the first date completely once it becomes apparent that there won't be a second. Have you ever hung out with someone you weren't dating? Of course you have. You're more than capable of enjoying yourself with someone even if there isn't a love interest. Keep a positive attitude throughout the entirety of the date, even if the chemistry just isn’t there. You'll have a much better time, and who knows… maybe the other person has a friend who would be perfect for you.

Keep it Casual

Relaxed and casual first dates stand the best chance for success. Many people try to impress their date with an elegant dinner, but a formal dating environment can choke conversation. Never plan an event that restricts dialogue. The last thing anyone needs on a first date is unnecessary awkwardness brought on by a stuffy atmosphere. Besides, would you be more likely to go out with someone again because you had a great time or because they knew when to use all five forks?

We strongly encourage you to trade that dinner idea for a fun lunch or even an early breakfast. A picnic is also a great, though clichéd, idea. If you insist on a dinner, perhaps you could try a progressive dinner. This is where you jump from one location to another for each course; have your appetizer, soup, main course, dessert, and coffee all at different locations. This will break up the date with new, exciting elements that lend themselves to fresh conversation at each destination.

He Said, She Said

Remember, the point of the first date is to get to know the other person. This is why creating and maintaining conversation is absolutely essential. One strategy to accomplish this is introducing an element in the date itself that can serve as a fallback in times of awkward silence. For instance, taking a class (cooking, music, painting, drink-making, dancing, etc.) gives you a topic of conversation present throughout the entire date. The same can be said for volunteering together. These types of activities also allow you to observe how the other person reacts in various situations.

Allow the Audible

You're on the date and you clearly have no connection with the other person; what do you do? What if there is chemistry and you don't want the date to end? Until you actually meet your date in person, you really don't know how the two of you will connect. For this reason, the best first dates are flexible. A rigid evening, such as dinner and a movie, leaves no room for ending or extending the date sooner or later than planned.

When you brainstorm first date ideas, focus on flexible situations that lend themselves to on-the-spot modifications. For example, fitness activities such as biking, jogging, hiking, tennis, or even mini-golf can either be cut short or extended with a cool-down walk. You could even grab a casual bite to eat once it's clear you both enjoy the other person's company.

Online to Offline

There are special factors to consider when meeting someone online. Most dating websites facilitate conversation before you ever meet offline. There are two schools of thought with getting to know someone online before you meet in person.

On one hand, online dating serves as a compatibility filter. You are essentially given a pre-first date where you can decide whether or not you even want to meet the other person. On the other hand, many psychologists argue that too much conversation can smother the spark that occurs when two people first get to know one another in person. The initial topics of conversation have been covered in advance, and you have nothing to talk about on the date.

There is also the potential for unmet expectations. It's like reading a book; since you don’t actually see or hear the author, the narrative is personalized by you. You develop subconscious assumptions of the other person and these are met with disappointment if they don’t match reality.

One positive element unique to dating websites is that the first date can be much more personalized. Since you already know the other person's likes and dislikes, you can tailor your date around them. What type of food do they like? Are they into fitness? You get the idea.

Final Thoughts

Dating doesn't have to be stressful. The first date is your chance to get to know one another and see if each of you is interested in a second date. A casual, relaxed atmosphere that welcomes conversation is your best chance to do this. Don't fixate on impressing the other person, or even what they will think of you. Follow the advice in this article and you will never have to stress again.


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