We've all been there, you guys: You're going on a first date, you've pumped yourself up with about 50 affirmations you frantically googled before leaving your house, you said "hi" to your date a little weird (but that's OK), and then, it happens. You can't figure out what to say on your first date because your stomach is literally eating itself alive. Nerves on a first date are totally, totally normal. Seriously, it's natural to want to put your best foot forward for a shot at love, and to subsequently fear every single thing that could go wrong. But that doesn't mean you let your nerves get the best of you and sit in front of your date with your mouth zipped the entire night. (Trust me. I've done it. Not a great look.)
Instead, you should have some quick things to say to your date in these situations. Yes, I know the world's a stage and we're all playing our parts, but that doesn't mean you need to have a lengthy speech prepared or a targeted listed of questions to interrogate your date with. You'll want to try to keep things as natural as possible (even if you're feeling anything but natural inside). Chuckle a little here and there, read the room, and use these suggestions as a guide.
1. Ask Them To Tell You A Story
"What's the funniest memory you have?"
There's nothing better to calm your nerves than to start laughing. I mean, try not to start laughing uncontrollably for no reason at all (but if you do, #respect). Instead, shift the focus to your date, and ask them about a funny memory they have. It'll help take some of the pressure off of you and get you thinking about something else.
"You have to realize that every person is a gold mine of stories and advice and experiences, and if you think about everything they have to offer, you think a little bit less about what you have to offer," drag comedienne and writer Miz Cracker tells Elite Daily. "It takes the pressure off of you, and really, you’re there to get to know them. So if you focus on them more, you’re worrying about yourself less."
2. Say Something A Little Exaggerated
"Do you ever feel your stomach literally eating itself alive and low-key want to jump out of the nearest window?"
Now, don't go too, too crazy on the hyperbole here, but while we're talking about hyperboles, who doesn't love a good hyperbole? This is another good way to laugh away your nerves by addressing them in a joke.
3. Give Them A Disclaimer
"My face doesn't look pained because I'm having a sh*tty time. It's just because you're really cute and I'm nervous."
Again, if you're feeling like you're drowning in nerves, find a funny way to address them so you take away some of their power. With this line, assure your date that any pained, contorted faces you make throughout the night are by no means indicative of how you feel about them — it's just your nerves making their way to your face. Bonus points for throwing a compliment in there to flatter the f*ck out of your date.
4. Start A Game Of "Would You Rather?"
"Would you rather be plagued with nerves every time you talk to someone or have a constant stream of every embarrassing thing you've ever done playing in your head?"
There is nothing that can't be saved by a funny game of "Would You Rather?" I have no science to back up this claim, but just go with it, OK? By throwing this line out there, you address the elephant in the room — your nerves — in a subtle way, you liven up the conversation, and you will literally learn SO MUCH about your date, given their WYR? choices.
5. Create A Story Together
"What do you think that dude with the mustache over there is thinking?"
OK, so yes, this whole first date is already a shared experience between you and your date. But why not create a shared experience within the shared experience (#meta) and start your own little story about someone else? Pick someone around you guys who looks interesting — it doesn't have to be a dude with a mustache — and start talking through a little backstory for their life. Before you know it, you'll have a wealth of inside jokes with your date after creating your own "character," if you will.
6. Segue Into A Funny Story About Yourself
"Wow, I'm almost as nervous now as the time I ______"
Repeat after me: Laugh. Away. Your. Nerves. If you can't find a way to distract yourself from your nerves, then confront them head on. Think back to a time when you were really nervous in the past, but make sure it's a time you can laugh at now. Then, segue into that story to get yourself and your date giggling. (Hopefully, your date will understand that they, too, have to share a similar story after this because it's only fair.)
7. Say Something A Little Sarcastic
"I wonder what it's like to not be nervous ever in your life."
Now, similar to the hyperbole, you don't want to go crazy with the sarcasm just yet, until you know how your date responds to sarcasm. But just so you know, if they don't respond to your sarcasm well, you can drop them as fast as I drop the ball on all my responsibilities.
8. Just Be Honest
"Just going to address the elephant in the room: I'm nervous AF right now. Are you nervous, too?"
Look, I'm going to let you in on a little secret that you probably missed while you were ruminating on your nerves: Your date is probably just as nervous, if not more so, than you are. So to combat your nerves head on, just be up front about them. Tell your date you're nervous, and ask if they are, too. Then, you can commiserate about how nerves f*cking suck. BONDING!
Remember, at the end of the day, nothing is on the line for you. "You don’t really have anything to lose. You’re just meeting that person," says sex educator Eileen Kelly. "Not everyone’s going like you, and you’re not going to like everyone else... You go and you have your fun time with them, and then, you leave and you never have to see them again if you don’t want to."
If you can laugh away your nerves and hit it off with your date, then great! I'm gonna be high-key pissed off if I don't get an invite to your future wedding. Aaaaaaand if your date literally sucks or something supremely embarrassing happens, you never have to lay eyes on them again. Chalk it up to another funny, embarrassing story you can share in the future, keep your head held high, and go on another date.
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