On a first date, I'm a regular anxiety-fest. Second-guessing everything I say, trying not to fidget, and working on overdrive to figure you out.
And, of course, after our first date, I'm going back to my friends to dish over every detail, especially if I really like you. What am I so worried about? More importantly, what can you do about it? Here's a peek at my first date fears and hang-ups and what you can do to put me at ease.
1) Is this a date?
I often find myself in the following situation: I'm sitting across from a guy, having a great time, enjoying the company. Everything is going well. Except, I can't stop wondering whether he thinks I'm a potential girlfriend or just a girl friend. Now that we've graduated from playschool (ahem, college), having friends of the opposite sex is par for the course. But as great as it is to have a buddy to obsess over UFC with, the gray area between platonic and romantic can make things awfully perplexing, too.
If you're into me, you've got to come clean about it. Start by employing the magic word. No, not "please." I'm talking about "date." As in, "I'd love to take you out on a date some time." Telling me that we should "hang," "grab a drink," or "meet for lunch" is not always going to get your romantic intentions across. This goes double if we've been long-time friends, co-workers, neighbors, or colleagues.
2) Does he like what he sees?
Maybe you've already seen a picture of me. Maybe we met briefly at a party or in a dark bar. But chances are, I'm still going to be wondering whether you like what you see. Telling me straight off the bat that I look great starts things off on the right foot. Plus, I can stop worrying about the cow-lick I spent an hour trying to flatten, and that frees up my mind to focus on getting to know you.
3) Why won't he look me in the eyes?
Are you nervous? Strung out? Bored? Hypnotized by my breasts? Regardless, when a guy won't look at me straight on, I feel like my eyes are emitting death-rays. A cool superpower, but not exactly what I had in mind when I was putting on the mascara. Be aware of your body-language, too. I've been out so many times with men who sit back, totally aloof, while I smile and nod and try my best to carry on a conversation with someone who might as well be a rock (and not the cuddly "pet" kind, either).
Even if you're verbally responsive and asking all the right questions, I'm going to feel awful if you aren't making eye contact and your body language is screaming "Not Interested!" By all means, if you really aren't interested, after this first date, do not ask me out on a second date. Throw away my phone number. Chances are, if we aren't clicking, I won't be calling you, either. But I am working hard to be nice. I expect the same from you.
4) Why did he pick this place?
I once went out with a man who informed me that he takes girls he's only marginally interested in to Dippin' Dots (no, we were not consuming the "Ice Cream of the Future" at the time). Not exactly the best thing to admit to on a first date, but the guy (now history) got me thinking harder about all the places I'd been to on dates.
These days, I usually ask the guy to choose the locale of our first date, because it gives me a little insight into what he likes and how well he's got me pegged, so choose wisely. And honestly, if you're taking me to Dippin' Dots, you've made it loud and clear that you're just cruising for a one-night stand.
5) How does he go about ordering dinner?
Are you ordering for me? Are we sharing several dishes? Are you ordering a bottle of wine with the meal? Are you saving room for dessert? Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Kosher? How much do you spend on food? How much food do you eat? Do you want to stuff me in a blueberry pie and eat me (i.e. are you totally psychotic)?
Since we Homo sapiens tend to eat several times a day, what and how you eat is a significant indicator of our compatibility. If I'm an omnivore and you are a raw vegan who only eats food he has personally foraged, it is just not going to work out. Asking about my food preferences before you plan our first date does so much to minimize surprises. Starting out with just coffee or a drink is a great way to avoid culinary snafus as well.
6) Is that a major wardrobe malfunction or a fashion statement?
I once went out on a first date with a man who showed up with his shirt on inside-out. No big. Kinda cute, actually. Except his shirt was inside-out on our second date, too. After this occurred a third time, I finally asked him (completely sincerely) whether this was a fashion statement (after all, I kid you not, he did work in fashion). "Oh!" He exclaimed. "You're right. It is inside-out!" Yes. Men have had major wardrobe malfunctions on first (and second and third) dates with me, and it is just about the most distracting thing on this planet.
I've spent many an evening wondering how you've managed to go all day with that tag stuck on your pants, your buttons not aligned, and mismatched socks. Unless your date is a super-bitch, a little wardrobe malfunction is not going to make or break you. It might even be endearing in a Nutty Professor kind of way. That being said, I would not recommend skipping the fly check before you go out.
7) Is he for real?
More important than what you say is the meta-data I'm filtering while we're out. For example, do your stories feel like they're way too practiced, i.e. like they've been told too many times to too many women? Are you disclosing too much too soon? Are you excited about me? Are you a good listener? I'm looking for signs that the person you are projecting is The Real You. Don't insult my intelligence. If you're giving me the song-and-dance, I'm going to totally be on to you.
8) Should we do the check dance now?
Do you have any idea how much thought and deliberation I've put into my half of the check dance? When I was younger, I always insisted on splitting the bill 50/50. I was told enough times that this practice of mine is emasculating, and I switched to sitting there coyly while the man reached for his wallet. But some dates clearly took this as a sign of snooty entitlement.
Thus, the check dance. I hate the check dance. The whole show is really for your benefit. What can you do about it? Easy. On your way back from the head, settle the check discretely. Then, when I suggest that we get the bill, you can just say, all suave-like, "It's already taken care of." Wow. That is so hot.
9) So, is this date over?
Okay, so sometimes I get really, really horny. I admit, sometimes I even want to take you home on the first date, but I'm really embarrassed to ask. I'd feel so much better if you made it sound like it was all your idea. I know, pretty silly of me, right? I have to admit, the same part of me that will never disclose how many men I've really slept with also doesn't want to be the one asking you upstairs. Do us both a favor and give me an opening I can work with.
10) Does he really want to see me again?
At the end of a date, I want to be clued in. Is this goodbye or see you later? If you don't think we're a good fit, you don't have to be rude about it, but don't go making promises to call me, either. I really hate it when a guy gives me all the signals that he's interested, only to never be heard from again.
On the other hand, if you're really excited about me, just tell me. No matter what your guy friends tell you, acting all nonchalant at the end of a date is not going to help you. What's the worst that could happen? She could say flat-out that she's not that into you. Better that than risking getting your signals crossed because you played it so cool that you came of icy.