When I feel nervous on dates, I have a habit of fiddling with my hair or rearranging my arms. I don't mean to do it; I'm just excited about where the date will lead and worried about falling into a string of awkward silences. After my most recent first date, I asked a body language expert to analyze my selfies with my date to see what I can learn from all that fidgeting.
My friend from college had set me up with her friend from Welcome Week. Let's call him Matt*. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop called Devocíon in Brooklyn. I got there early and snagged us a table. He arrived soon after, gave me a hug, and went to get us drinks. While I waited, I texted our mutual friend my first impression: How is the guy single? He's nice, cute, intelligent, and tall. Generally, those are desired traits, and he checked off the list. I suddenly became super self-conscious, but she quickly reassured me.
Matt came back with our drinks and a chocolate-chip cookie for us to share, and we began chatting. I talked about what it's like being a writer, and he explained his work at a huge tech company. I gave him an idea for the technology his company uses — which, by the way, I want full creative credit for if it ever comes to fruition.
We finished our drinks and shared cookie, and walked to overlook the East River. We took some selfies by the water, and my hair decided it had a mind of its own. I felt super awkward at first. I mean, I just met him, I was trying to pose with him, and the wind was making acting as natural as possible very difficult. He was fine with the many selfies I took, which I think is a good way to test the waters for how often I take selfies in relationships with my partner, anyway. My last boyfriend got so annoyed whenever I'd try to take pictures of the two of us, and Matt being game made me feel relieved — like I wasn't annoying him. When I said he should take some because he's taller (longer arms, farther-away framing, better angle), it was no problem. He snapped away.
We talked about his lack of social media presence, and I did mention that sometimes I feel I have something to prove on Instagram. But having active Twitter and Instagram accounts no doubt helps me network as a professional writer. He said if he were to have an Instagram, it would be him flaunting his nights in, in sweatpants. I laughed that I sometimes do stuff like that — like posting a full lip-sync karaoke of The Greatest Showman because why not. We talked about how we both are extroverted introverts, and both like a good amount of nights in per week. It was nice to know someone else out there in New York who was my age and attractive didn't feel like they had to live some impressive city life every night. That's usually an issue for me with dating – people wanting to constantly go to a series of bars. It's not my scene.
After the riverside stroll, we passed a soccer field and walked the steps of some amphitheater seating that zig-zagged upward. I freaked out when I heard a shuffle next to me, thinking it was a squirrel that ran past me on the handlebars. He laughed; I laughed. I thought it was nice to know that maybe he found my melodrama cute.
We wandered up to a nearby hotel rooftop bar and shared a cocktail, chips, and dip. We took more selfies, and I wasn't sure how close to lean into him, but I tried to feel it out. It seemed like we were both fine leaning into each other, and I tried to make it playful with some "funny" photos, instead of my usual smirk and smize. As the date progressed, I felt more comfortable with him.
To get a sense of how we were feeling each other subconsciously, I spoke with body language expert Traci Brown about our body language in the photos, and this is what she had to say about our first date selfies.
"You’re both happy," Brown tells me. "You’re the more reserved one and he’s more outgoing." I can't speak for Matt, but yeah, in some ways I can be a closed book. Brown continued, "We barely see you smiling with your mouth open! Outgoing people almost always show their teeth when they smile. More reserved people smile with their mouth closed."
Outgoing people almost always show their teeth when they smile. More reserved people smile with their mouth closed.
"You’re both enjoying yourselves," Brown says. (See!) "And you’re letting each other close — even being silly together. If you’re not at least somewhat comfortable with each other we wouldn’t see you this way."
In conclusion? "You’re close and look like you’re doing pretty good for a first date," Brown says.
We took the L train together back into Manhattan, as I was meeting my sister and our friend to get dinner before seeing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live, and Matt was touring an apartment downtown. We said our goodbyes and hugged, and I offered that maybe we could go to a museum with our mutual friend and her boyfriend sometime. At this moment in time, I think neither of us are looking to settle down, but who knows what could potentially happen down the road.
The next day, I flew to Florida to visit family for a couple of weeks. When I landed, I saw that he texted me. Our conversation continued on into the next morning, and we talked about the apartment he saw, the show I watched, and referenced some inside jokes from our date. Maybe I'm more comfortable with him now after taking selfies together than I normally am after a first date. And no matter what happens, at least I have these photos as proof that I don't need to be nervous on dates.
*Name has been changed.