I'm unapologetically crazy about first dates. I mean, I've definitely considered staying single forever just so that I'd have a lifetime of first dates. No matter how much I enjoy them, though, I admit they can be awkward and downright humiliating at times. It's hard to silence those pesky first date thoughts, especially if there's a lag in the conversation or a dreadful, awkward silence. You know, the thoughts that make you second-guess everything you say or have you glancing at your reflection in your phone every few minutes to make sure you haven't smeared lipstick all over your face. I'm here to tell you those are totally normal and you're not alone.
The year was 2008 and I was in my senior year of high school. A guy I didn't really know that well — apart from brief, forgettable sightings when my all-girls student body used his school's soccer field to practice — asked me to meet him for dinner at the local TGI Friday's that weekend. Unimpressed, I said yes and got on with the rest of my week. I don't remember why but when that weekend rolled around, I was grounded, which meant I couldn't text him to let him know I wouldn't make it. I lamely explained this to my parents who agreed to lift my punishment for one night. Looking back now, I wish they hadn't.
Because I still couldn't be trusted after whatever it was that I did (seriously, Mom, do you remember?), both my parents dropped me off for my date in a relentless attempt to prolong my suffering. You could say the date started sucking right around then but of course, it got much, much worse.
My date and I had absolutely nothing in common and spent the entire night pretending (at least, I was pretending) to care that the central air-conditioning in his house was broken. He went into excruciating detail about how he had adjusted his sleep habits to keep himself cool at nights — like sleeping with his feet hanging out his bedroom window — while I poked at my french fries. At the end of the night, when I was thankful to be done with the whole ordeal, he revealed that he had made up the AC story. He then burst into a fit of laughter, as if he had just pulled off the world's best prank.
To this day, I don't think I've been happier to see my parents than I was that night when they picked me up. I don't remember this guy's name or what happened between us after that, but I distinctly remember at least five of the daydreams I had while he was narrating the next great American novel about ventilation. So, in solidarity, here are 25 thoughts all women have on a first date, including a couple I had that night.
1. Am I too early?
No one wants to be first to show up on a first date because then you're just standing there awkwardly, terrified that you've been stood up.
2. Am I too late?
Being fashionably late is acceptable, maybe even encouraged. Being more than 15 minutes late is insulting.
3. What if I don't recognize them?
Assuming you met on a dating app, this is entirely possible. Hopefully, they recognize you and if not, share something specific like, "I'm standing right at the hostess stand whenever you get here," to make things easier.
4. Should I go in for the hug when I see them?
Personally, I save this for the end (assuming the date went well) because some people just aren't huggers and that's fine.
5. Booth or high-top?
Booth is more comfortable but high-top is less intimate. Maybe just let them decide?
6. What should I order?
Whatever the h*ll you want and if they judge you for it, they aren't worth your time.
7. Do I ask about their day?
I usually do because it's a good segue into how they spend their time or any interesting hobbies they might have. It's also a good way to find out if you have anything in common. The last time I asked a guy this on the first date, we found out that we'd both been to the same coffee shop that day.
8. What do I do with my hands?
Not knowing what to do with your hands is a thing that happens in photos and on first dates, apparently. Definitely keep them to yourself until things get more comfortable between the two of you.
9. Can they tell I'm nervous?
They're probably too busy wondering the same thing to notice your nerves.
10. OMG, why isn't anyone saying anything?
Because you're both making your way through this list of thoughts, duh.
11. I wish I could think of a funny joke right now.
Rehearsed jokes typically don't go over well on first dates. Just be yourself.
12. Wow, I don't remember anything they just said.
They just ran through the names of all seven of their siblings and you can't remember a single one. Don't worry. You can always try bringing it up casually later on if you two see each other again. No need to commit the family tree to memory just yet.
13. They like to do what in their spare time?
One time, I went out with a guy who told me all about his home-brewed, pumpkin beer. Did you know it takes at least two weeks to brew your own beer? Wow, so glad I know that now.
14. Is it wrong to ask who they voted for?
In this political cycle, no. No, it's not. Ask away and respond accordingly.
15. Am I smiling too much? Too little?
I have a similar stance on this like I do with what to order on a first date. Smile as much or as little as you like!
16. Wow, I really like this person.
Me, when the last person I went on a first date with told me their favorite thing about Boston was the coffee. Same.
17. I have never been this bored in my life.
Honestly, there's no reason you should have to suffer through a dull date. If you feel like you've made an effort to liven things up and they haven't reciprocated, you can respectfully cut the date short.
18. Would they notice if I went to the bathroom and never came back?
Unless you're on a group date and you're all a couple drinks in, you probably won't be able to get away this. If you can't bear to tell them the truth, make up a believable excuse and leave.
19. Should I pay or should they?
A good rule to date by is to always offer to split the bill. Regardless of who did the asking out, it's just common courtesy.
20. Oh no, are they going in for the kiss?
If you're not feeling the same sparks they are, reposition for a quick peck on the cheek or simply stop them and tell them how you feel. Don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to.
21. Oh no, why aren't they going in for a kiss?
Don't overthink this. Maybe they prefer to take things slow or maybe they're afraid of being rejected. If you're interested, let them know you had a great time and that you'd really like to see them again soon. That way, they know how you feel going forward.
22. How do I let them know I never want to see them again?
Just. Don't. Ghost. Them. You're better than that.
23. How do I put out the vibe that I'd love to go on a second date?
Chances are if you had a great time, they did as well. Casually ask what they have going on for the next couple of weeks. Someone who says they'll be tied up with school or work probably won't follow up for a second date. Alternatively, someone who makes an effort to compare schedules with you is on the same page — don't be afraid to ask them out.
24. Should I go home with them?
You absolutely never have to go home with someone if you don't want to, no matter how badly they want you to meet their pet reptile. On the other hand, if you both had a great time and you'd like to take things further, there's no reason why you can't go home with them on the first date.
25. Now what?
What happens after a first date is entirely up to you. Just remember, it's not a walk of shame, it's a stride of pride!
Who knows? Maybe you just met your soulmate or maybe you just have a really funny story to tell at brunch this weekend. Either way, you should be proud of yourself for getting out there.
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