Nothing gets a gal more worked up than a first date. NOTHING. Recently, first-dates have come up in conversations with a handful of my friends (of both genders), and these chats sparked some self-reflection on how much I’ve learned about dating since moving to the city. Despite my dating-app hiatus, I thought I’d throw together my top tips/learnings out here.
THE STORY BEGINS: About a year ago, I found myself single as an adult for the first time ever. I was still pretty fresh on the scene in New York, living in Bushwick (oy vey), but it was really exciting. I had been single in college for a few years, but that felt different since the campus was a bubble. Not long after ending a pretty serious college relationship (like, REALLY not long, about a week), I was out and met someone through mutual friends who asked me to grab a drink. No one had ever really asked me on a date before… in high school I was locked on a campus in the middle of Indiana, so the closest I could get to a date was a trip to the dining hall, and my college relationship started with a drunk hookup (preceded by a Tinder Match), so again…. different. I had never truly done the whole first date thing.
This kid was really cute and sweet, but I was a mess. I was nervous, awkward, shy, the whole thing. Needless to say, things didn’t go too far with that bae, but I owe it to him for getting back out there! Since that first-first date, I’ve handful of others and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. The advice I’d give myself if I could go back a year:
- Stay true, stay you, girl. You think this would be an obvious one, but I’ve been on more dates than I can count where I’ve overhyped certain interests of mine just for the sake of finding common ground with another person. This has slightly worked to my advantage and given me an opportunity to learn A LOT about Kanye West, but TBH: completely exhausting and not worth the energy. There is absolutely no need to feign interest in ANYTHING – if the convo is dying, there are more genuine ways you can save the date. Or, just take it as a sign that things aren’t meant to be.
- Drink what you want, not what he’s drinking, or what you “think” you should be drinking. If you’re not into IPAs, fuck it, don’t order one to impress! Also, your favorite drink is a great conversation starter. If it happens to be something fruity and ridiculous (raises hand), you can both laugh about it. Or if you’re super hardcore and into scotch on the rocks, rock that shit. A drink order tells a lot about a person.
- It’s ok to NOT drink. I gave up alcohol for about a month earlier this year (how I don’t even know), but I was scheduling a bumble date and thought, holy shit, how do you go on first dates without alcohol? So I asked if we were cool doing an alcohol-free activity, and he suggested rock climbing. We had a blast! It’s possible to get out there without alcohol, I promise.
- It’s OK to not be into it. I think this was my biggest struggle. Because my past dating experience consisted of 2 serious relationships, I was pretty programmed to think that every encounter with a boy had to look like something on Tumblr. PLOT TWIST: Tumblr is bullshit and not everything has to turn into a 2-year relationship. I’ve been on a few first dates where I knew there wasn’t a real spark but went on a second or even third date just because. It was never worth it. Telling you right now, don’t waste your time (or his) if you’re not feeling it. I think it’s better to just be honest and friendzone. (NO GHOSTING, PEOPLE – NOT COOL).
My biggest takeaway from a year of dating was learning how to trust my gut. It’s important to not force things that aren’t meant to be – but equally important to learn how to let loose, have fun, and get outside your comfort zone for a night.