by Jamen Dean Drodge
Knowing if the stranger you’ve just met is “the one” requires more than a slow-mo introduction, scored by the first 30-seconds of Spandau Ballet’s “True,” and a lingering kiss. Reality is cruel and requires us to spend time learning about people before marrying them; no disrespect to Disney. In an effort to guide you to happily ever after, here are five tips to help you pass the first date hurdle:
Tip #1: Identify the intent.
If it isn’t explicitly stated as a “hookup” or “date,” then ask. If the answer is ambiguous, look out for the following hookup phrases:
• “I’m not looking for anything serious right now.”
• “My ex and I broke up a few days ago.”
• “Let’s hang at my place first.”
• “How big are you?”
• “I brought poppers with me.”
I would argue that questions regarding position (i.e. top, bottom, versatile) don’t necessarily classify your meeting as a hookup because, as the saying goes, “two bottoms don’t make a top.”
It’s no fun later discovering that your preferences do not align, versatile men excluded.
If you two don’t have the same understanding of the night’s purpose, it will end poorly. Expectations won’t be met, and nobody gets a happy ending.
Tip #2: Find a place with few
Recently, I met a date at The Green Lady Lounge a little after 7 p.m. on a Sunday. The atmosphere was perfect for a first date: instrumental jazz, dim lighting, relatively quiet, and easily accessible vodka.
After an hour and a half of engaging conversation, we noticed that we were surrounded by couples intimately huddled along the booth-side of each table. I made some room for him on my side, and he sat next to me. Seeing couples of various ages – clearly in love –inspires me. Everyone looked as if they were moments away from a kiss. As someone who opts for coffee or drinks at Bistro 303 as a decent first date location, I was pleasantly surprised.
The idea of a first date is to get to know someone. If you have no opportunities to talk, how much is the date accomplishing?
Personally, I don’t want to be distracted by food, loud music or movies. Those things are fine for any date after the first. Meeting for drinks allows for a quick getaway and access to the cure for nervousness: alcohol.
Like many, I’ve had a slew of bad dates in my lifetime. If the date is not going well, or you’re clearly uninterested, then politely end the conversation and leave. You’re doing him a favor by not wasting his time.
Tip #3: Avoid generic “
When it comes to dating and interviews, being an introvert works against me. I could be painting with someone silently sitting next to me and have a remarkable time.
I need to consistently remind myself that silence can be interpreted as a sign of disinterest. Some probing may be required (no pun intended) to keep the conversation balanced.
Awkward silences don’t need to be awkward. If you spill your guts and start rambling about work, the conversation quickly becomes one-sided. Be a good listener; it gives you time to say something meaningful or profound.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask obvious conversation-starters: “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” It translates into a lack of interest in the current conversation.
I don’t mind an abrupt change in direction, but ask questions that you truly want to be answered: “Why did you switch your career from journalism to software engineering? That seems like a random move.” Let that conversation continue organically. Ask relevant questions, otherwise it may seem like you aren’t listening.
Tip #4: Keep the evening
Don’t rely on liquor to keep up the momentum, and absolutely no shots. You’re not going to Missie B’s later. I keep the same rule for dates as a do for networking events: no more than two drinks. Any more than two can give your date the wrong idea.
Let’s say that drinks are empty, the night is young and a change in atmosphere is needed. What now? I find that deeper conversations happen on walks.
Leaving the confines of a building and wandering aimlessly through the city – popular, well-lit areas – is freeing. No more barriers exist between the two of you. No tables to separate you, no waiter/bartender/barista to interrupt you, and no drink to keep your anxious hands occupied.
Some of the best conversations, friends included, happen on walks. If you feel so inclined, a car ride through random parts of the city works, too. Be warned that there is more pressure to kiss at the end of the drive.
To those unfamiliar with the area, a leisurely stroll through the Country Club Plaza on a warm winter night cannot be topped. If a walk around the block or car ride is too tame, try visiting a local art gallery or the Nelson-Atkins Museum on a Thursday night. The way people react to art can be as revealing as body language.
Tip #5: Don’t head for the
Better yet, don’t head to his place! Many of my friends can attest that sex on the first date causes more trouble than it’s worth. Immediately acting on infatuation may make you wonder whether or not you’re simply attracted to his body.
Don’t be the guy who is notorious for having sex right away, and then wonders why he can’t maintain a relationship. Imagine lighting a candle with a flamethrower and asking, “Why did my candle burn out so quickly?”
In the gay community, withholding sex until the third date seems like a heteronormative standard. I like the three-date rule as a guideline.
Remain within your comfort zone, and don’t feel pressured. We all have different coming out experiences and are making up for years of emotional intelligence. Hopefully, your date will be respectful when it comes time for intimacy.
If the evening lasts longer than you thought it would, then it’s safe to say your date was a success. I’d love to hear some of your first date experiences. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.