Let's face it, dating can be hard! Though we live in a world where online dating has become the norm, stepping outside of your comfort zone and actually meeting someone for the first time isn't always easy. First dates can come with a rush of emotions, and you can frequently get lost in your head running through every possible pre-date detail, like what to wear, what to say, and how to act. What's more, even if you've been speaking to this person for a while, first dates can be unpredictable, and as a result, completely nerve-wracking (no matter your personality type).
But regardless of all the uncertainties and jitters that come with first dates, dating is the best way to meet your future spouse and build interpersonal connections. So, finding ways to minimize stress and perfect "the art of dating" may help in building your confidence when it comes to embarking on this journey. Though some singles may choose to memorize a list of tips and tricks to follow, it may be more beneficial to understand what not to do, in order to cultivate a fun and healthy first-date environment. After all, knowledge is power, and knowing how to keep yourself comfortable and safe is of the utmost importance.
Interested in learning more? With the expert advice of Wale Okerayi LMHC LPC, a licensed mental health counselor, here are the top four mistakes to know and avoid on first dates.
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Being Unaware of Your Dating Intentions
Regardless if you're casually dating or looking for a serious relationship, it's typically helpful to understand your own personal dating intentions in order to have a productive first date. "It’s important to know what you’re looking for prior to dating so that you can keep an eye out for the things that don’t align," shares Okerayi. If your date is looking for something serious and you're not, it may be a sign that you both aren't compatible at that particular time. And vice versa. Dating takes mutual effort for both parties involved, so it's important to be honest with yourself (and your date) about where you are in the dating process.
Meeting Someone That Makes You Uncomfortable
Okerayi highlights that if your date has been overly sexual, or if they've previously crossed boundaries in the past, "meeting up with them may not be so fun." Think about it: First dates are naturally filled with nerves, so it wouldn't be in your best interest to go out with someone who has already made you feel nervous and uneasy. Trust your instincts, and be aware of which scenarios make you feel comfortable or unsafe.
Searching for the Negatives
By "negatives", Okerayi isn't referring to being vigilant about potential mishaps that could possibly occur, but notes "if you are constantly searching for something wrong with them, you’ll find it and not be present on the date at all." Avoid the desire to nitpick everything they say, or even what they wear. Dating requires you to be open to meeting a new person, and though certain things may not be "right" in your eyes, that doesn't mean it's generally wrong and a total red flag.
Writing Them Off Immediately
According to Okerayi, before completely deciding that someone isn't right for you, consider being open to a second date before jumping to any final conclusions. "I think it’s hard to get to know someone on one date (of course, excluding if they make you feel uncomfortable or are harmful to you). I would give it at least two dates before making your decisions," she shares. Many of us are guilty of writing someone off based on a brief conversation, but to really know someone is to communicate with them multiple times. If your first date was a bit lukewarm, try going on a second date to see if anything sparks. If not, at least you tried.