When two people are anticipating their first time out together they can build up a lot of internal expectation. This sense of expectation, in turn, can generate nervousness, edginess, scattered thinking and confused emotions. It’s hard not to think about the future. If this date goes smoothly then there will probably be more. If the date is uncomfortable then that could spell the end of any potential relationship. The person we’re going out with is probably running through similar thoughts and emotional reactions.
The best way to make your date feel comfortable when you go out for the first time is to be comfortable yourself. Most of the awkward situations that occur on a first date are the result of people being mentally distracted. Too many questions flash through our minds. Is it going well? Is s/he attracted? How do I look? These concerns take us out of the present moment. To drop back in to the here and now, take a moment to be conscious of your body. Breathe deep into your lower abdomen a few times. Settle into the moment. Any anxiousness you may feel is probably a sign that the past or the (possible) future is tugging too strongly on your consciousness. Your date will likely pick up on your internal agitation.
Once you’re more settled into your body, become aware of your proximity to the other person. Being conscious of space is a key to comfort and ease during a date. You don’t want to draw too close too early and appear driven or aggressive. On the other hand, too much distance could be interpreted as emotional aloofness. Determining the ideal boundaries during a first date requires a fine balance of warmth and respect.
Try to be yourself – as much as you know how to be – while you engage in conversation. Authenticity typically puts people at ease. It gives them permission to be themselves too. Pay attention to what your date has to say. Most outings will go smoother if we take the time to really listen. People tend to put their guard down when they feel like they’re being heard, for one thing. Listening also provides us with many more openings for further conversation. A good first date is an act of mutual exchange. This delicate balance can be easily broken if either person dominates the conversation or constantly brings it back to themselves.
Sticking to uplifting topics will likely make your date feel more at ease. This means focusing on interests rather than dislikes, dreams rather than regrets and accomplishments rather than sources of frustration. There will be time to tackle more difficult subjects later on. Right now the key is to build a strong foundation of good feelings, and this is more easily accomplished by focusing on the positive. Some tactful compliments here and there will make the evening more buoyant as well, so long as you’re genuine. Any intelligent person will see through a false barrage of praise, but sincerely appreciative remarks are almost always welcome.