Going into a first date, nerves are typically on blast. When it’s with someone who you’ve had good texting exchanges with, the stakes can feel very high. But few things can be more uncomfortable than finding yourself in the middle of a conversation that just isn’t jiving. Knowing how to fix an awkward conversation on a date can feel like a pretty daunting task. Communication with a date can sometimes feel so fragile early on, not to mention you’re trying to relate to someone who is basically a stranger — but there are definitely some strategies you can use to try to get things back on track.
I think we can all agree that the majority of first dates usually come with varying degrees of awkwardness. Whether it’s the occasional lull in the conversation, or accidentally saying something that you realized sounded completely dumb — it happens! But the truth of the matter is that getting to know someone doesn’t happen in a super seamless way. This means that a totally awkward first date could potentially blossom into a pretty cool relationship, just like a promising first date can just as quickly fizzle shortly after. Learning to navigate different types of conversations with different people can be a great way to challenge yourself and give the person you're with the chance to shake off the nerves.
1. Ask A Question About Something They're Interested In
Trying to tactfully change the subject when a conversation isn't flowing freely can be tricky. And while the most obvious solution might be to ask cliché "first date" questions like what they do in their free time, these types of questions can make some people switch to autopilot and get stuck in their head. Since you’ve probably had a few conversations via text covering the basics, try asking them about something specific that they're into that you also find interesting. This way, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll both be engaged in the new convo.
2. Tell A Funny Story
Nothing loosens things up like a little humor. First dates can be super stressful, so finding something to laugh about is a great way to distract each other from the nerves and awkwardness. Why not tell a funny story? Brownie points if you can use something they said as a natural segue. Worst case scenario, if they don’t find at least your attempt at humor funny, then the awkwardness might just be a sign that the compatibility is lacking. But don’t sweat it, that’s what first dates are for!
3. Acknowledge The Awkwardness
Now I know this might go against the whole concept of playing it cool, but sometimes instead of running from something, the best way to move on from an awkward vibe is to just acknowledge it. Once I was out with a guy who I was so into, and pretty shockingly, I had managed to bring my A-game. But the energy between us felt totally awkward for most of the night, and I just assumed he wasn’t into me. Toward the end of the date, he abruptly looked me directly in the eye and was like, "Sorry for acting so weird, I've been really nervous this entire time". And things moved from v awk to v sweet in about five seconds! We’re all humans and can totally relate to awkwardness. If the opportunity presents itself, being open can inspire the person you’re with to be a bit more vulnerable too.
4. Suggest A Location Change
Sometimes being crammed in the corner of a loud and crowded bar can make focusing on a conversation totally difficult. If the energy around you is a bit overwhelming but you don’t want to pull the plug on the entire date, spontaneously suggesting a location change could give you both the chance to gather your thoughts. Something like, "Wow it’s really turning up in here, wanna go grab another drink? There’s a great place around the corner," can take some of the pressure off and add an element of surprise.
5. Bring In An Outsider
If all else fails, bringing someone else into the conversation for a sec is a bold move, but it could diffuse some pressure. Maybe the person sitting next to you has a cool tattoo that you can comment on! So often on dates, we get so focused on the other person that we forget to interact with our environment in ways that we normally would. Loving your drink? Tell the bartender and ask them what their secret is. Avoid seeming flirty, but opening up to those around you can give you both a bit of breathing room.
Dealing with awkwardness on a first date can definitely feel way more intense in the moment than it actually is. Both of you are on-edge and in the process of assessing whether or not you’re actually into each other, and if you keep hitting hiccups in the road then it could just be that it’s not a good fit. If, however, nothing is colossally wrong, and you like them, try to remember that there could be something you are totally unaware of that’s distracting them and give them a chance to work through it.
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