How do I behave on a first date? I’m so nervous.

Help me not to make a fool of myself on my first date. I’m a girl in my early 20s. For various reasons I have only been on two dates in my entire life, both of them with guys I had no interest in that my friends set me up with. I am going for coffee this weekend with a guy from a college class that I am actually interested in and I want it to go well.

I am reasonably attractive and have no trouble getting dressed, so that’s not a problem. I’m mildly socially awkward, but once I get into a conversation I’m okay. But I’m worried about making a terrible faux pas or acting like a fool because I have next to zero dating experience.

What tips can you offer for a first coffee date? Is there anything I should absolutely avoid doing? Talking about? How do second dates get scheduled? Is it too forward if I say something like “we should hang out again” at the end? How can I curb my nerves beforehand? I feel very, very nervous. How can I make this go away so I don’t mess up the date? What basic etiquette/politeness rules should I remember to follow? Keep in mind that I know next to NOTHING…no advice is too simple.

Once I went on a date that started with me falling down on the sidewalk. I was wearing some supercute shoes with like 5″ heels, and I bit it so hard while we were walking to dinner that my body just dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. In a panic, I grabbed my date’s elbow, but this succeeded in doing nothing but almost wrenching his arm out of the socket. And this was just the beginning.

At dinner, we went to a Mexican restaurant where I ordered a giant margarita the size of my face, which I promptly knocked over, straight onto our shared, burning hot fajita skillet. It sizzled. A giant cloud of steam rose over our heads, and the girl at the next table said to her friend, “Oh my GOD, did you SEE THAT?”

After dinner, we went out for drinks. I decided it would be nice to get one for my date, since he bought dinner. I didn’t have money, so I excused myself and went to find an ATM. I immediately got lost. I wandered around downtown Boston for about 20 minutes in my giant high heels and just completely by chance found the bar where I left my date. When I went back inside, he was like, “Where were you?” and I was like, “In the bathroom,” at which point I was like, Oh, shit, what have I done, now he thinks I was in the bathroom for 20 minutes. He either thinks I was pooping (HORRORS) or I was doing massive amounts of cocaine (also horrible, but not as horrible as pooping while you’re on a date). I tried to explain myself and why I would lie about getting lost finding an ATM, and things just went downhill from there. I never saw him again. And this wasn’t even anywhere close to my first date—it was probably my 1,000th date. Experience only gets you so far.

So here’s some advice:

Wear sensible heels. Don’t wander off by yourself in the middle of the date. Don’t order anything for dinner that’s on fire or is brought to the table and then set on fire. Bring cash and offer to split the tab, but the first time he offers to pay, back off and let him. Absolutely avoid drooling, spitting, hitting on the waiter, talking about yourself too much, bringing up any past medical conditions (both physical and mental), baby talk, or references to other dates you’ve been on. Before the date, to let off steam, go for a nice long run, and if it’s after five, go for a nice long run and then have a glass of wine. But just one because any more than that and you could find yourself sprawled out on the sidewalk like you were dropped from a 14-story building. Don’t drink too much. Don’t lie or exaggerate, because if things work out he’ll eventually discover that your dad isn’t the president and that your grandparents don’t own Martha’s Vineyard. Be yourself, so feel free to talk about your cats and your salt and pepper shaker collection, but save the talk about the time you got arrested for indecent exposure for your second date. Ask lots of questions, and you won’t run out of things to talk about, but don’t ask personal questions like how much money do you make? or, does bipolar disorder run in your family? or, what were you thinking when you bought that ugly shirt? Talk about what you want to do in the future, but not what you want to do with him or to him in the future. At the end of the date, say thank you, I had a lovely time, and see what happens after that. If you want to see him again, say so, and if you don’t want to see him again, don’t say that you will.

Have fun!

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1 Comment

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One response to “How do I behave on a first date? I’m so nervous.

  1. Anonymous

    This just made me laugh out loud more than twice. Very good advice and hysterical personal story. Love your blog!

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