When we feel nervous or awkward, people often tell us, “Fake it till you make it,” or “Act confident until you are.”
But no matter how many encouraging words you hear, it can still be incredibly nerve-wracking to sit down for a drink with someone when you know they are assessing whether you would make a good romantic partner.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that scary truth out of the way, let’s focus on how not to let it get in the way of having a good time on a date.
Most importantly, instead of wondering what your date is thinking about you, spend your energy getting to know them and deciding how you feel about them.
Here are eleven helpful tips to follow to not be awkward on a date.
How to not be awkward on a date
- Be warm and friendly
- Ask your date how they’re feeling
- Avoid overly personal topics
- Don’t talk about your ex or ask your date about theirs
- See your date as just another person you are getting to know
- Don’t drink too much
- Don’t be presumptuous
- Don’t take it so seriously
- Before going on a date, make a list of your good qualities to remind yourself what you bring to the table
- If you’re nervous, don’t be scared to tell your date how you’re feeling
- Be an active listener
1. Be warm and friendly
The best thing you can do on a first date is make your date feel comfortable and at ease.
Be your warm, kind self, and show your date that you are genuinely interested in getting to know them as a person and aren’t just there to go through the motions of a “date.”
Greeting your date with a big smile and either a hug or a friendly wave will let them know they have nothing to fear. This will lead them to open up more, which will ultimately make you both feel more comfortable.
If you knew your date before asking them out, then this shouldn’t be difficult to do. If, however, your contact began with a “What’s up?” on Tinder, then it is especially important to show your date that you are a genuine and nice person who is there for the right reasons.
2. Ask your date how they’re feeling
The best way to avoid awkwardness on a date is to be honest and vulnerable about how you’re feeling.
No one wants to date someone they can’t connect with, or who they feel is hiding something from them.
There’s no point in pretending to be super cool, calm, and collected, when what you’d really like to do is keel over from anxiety.
While you don’t need to overdo it and bear your soul to a relative stranger, a simple, “How are you feeling?” in between topics of conversation will do wonders for making your date feel seen and cared for.
If they feel comfortable with you, you will feel more comfortable with them. Win–win.
3. Avoid overly personal topics
While it is good to be honest about feeling a little awkward, there is no need to delve into your deepest, darkest secrets right off the bat.
While you don’t need to present a cold, confident front, there is also such a thing as oversharing, which can make your date feel uncomfortable.
Remember that your date hardly knows you (unless of course you are on a date with a friend you’ve known for years, in which case you can disregard this tip).
While you know the full context and understand your own motivations when it comes to sharing your most vulnerable moments or deepest truths, your date has no idea about all of that.
We all have our own individual dating, relationship, and sexual boundaries, and it is important to respect that you don’t know where the person you’re seeing falls when it comes to these things.
So, instead of launching into a story about something highly personal, keep the conversation to things you would pretty much be happy for the whole restaurant to hear. If things go well, you’ll have lots of time to discuss more personal matters down the line.
That said, you don’t have to steer clear of interesting conversation. Don’t spend an entire date engaging in small talk, or your date will be extremely bored.
It’s all about finding a balance between honesty and having an awareness about what is appropriate to talk about in which contexts.
4. Don’t talk about your ex or ask your date about theirs
On the subject of personal topics that it is best to avoid if you want to not be awkward on a date, don’t talk about your ex.
Furthermore, don’t ask your date about theirs.
There is no need, and quite frankly, it’s none of your business what your date’s ex was like.
There are few things more awkward than talking to a first date about your ex or asking them about theirs, so steer clear of this line of questioning at all costs.
5. See your date as just another person you are getting to know
To take off some of the pressure that may be causing you to feel awkward, why not just decide you’re going to see your date as just another person you are getting to know.
Instead of approaching your coffee, drink, walk, or dinner as a romantic date that will either go well or not, just see it as an opportunity to talk to an interesting person.
If there is a romantic spark, you’ll feel it, regardless of whether you go into the situation with the intention of doing so.
So, to avoid being awkward, treat your date as you would any other person you are in the early stages of getting to know.
6. Don’t drink too much
This is a big one. If you tend to have a few drinks to calm your nerves before meeting new people, or if you tend to drink too much on dates to avoid feeling awkward, maybe stick to soda this time.
The more you drink, the less inhibited you’ll become. This means you’ll be more likely to overshare and less aware of how your date is feeling.
Unless your date is also excited about having a drink, maybe steer clear of the liquid courage.
This is especially important if you are dating someone who works nights, and they are therefore not drinking.
As a general rule (though there are exceptions circumstances), only drink alcohol on a date if your date is also having some.
7. Don’t be presumptuous
One of the most off-putting and awkward things a person can do on a date is act like they know you better than they do or speak about future plans as though they are definite.
If the person you’re on a date with begins to feel like you are being presumptuous about how much they like you, or are acting entitled to their space in a way you don’t have a right to, they will not react well.
So, avoid any talk of future dates, future holidays, and––God forbid––children and marriage.
Keep your talk to a simple getting-to-know-you chat, and don’t assume they want to go for another date. Ask for a second date and then wait for them to say yes before you start planning it out loud.
8. Don’t take it so seriously
If you want to avoid being awkward on a date, it may help you to stop taking the whole thing so seriously.
Try to relax into the situation. It’s just a date after all. How long should a date last? Not that long. The truth is, it’ll be over before you know it, so just enjoy it while it’s happening.
Don’t approach the situation feeling under pressure to turn this meeting into a long-term relationship. You can’t do that in the course of one meeting anyway. And there is no question about the fact that your date will enjoy their experience more if you approach the situation with a light-hearted, relaxed outlook.
9. Before going on a date, make a list of your good qualities to remind yourself what you bring to the table
One thing that can make us feel awkward on dates is the worry we don’t have enough to offer the person in front of us.
This can lead us to put them on a pedestal and spend the entire date worrying that they don’t like us.
In order to get out of your own head and stop being awkward on dates, spend ten minutes before a date writing down everything good about yourself.
This list can include everything from silly details like, “I’m good at cleaning the stovetop after every meal,” to “I am a kind, caring, and loving person.”
Once you’ve established for yourself that you have a lot of qualities your date would be lucky to get to experience, you can go into a date feeling more confident, which will make you behave less awkwardly.
10. If you’re nervous, don’t be scared to tell your date how you’re feeling
It can be a great moment of bonding when you tell the person you’re seeing that you’re feeling pretty nervous about the date, and they respond with “Oh my gosh, me too!”
Acknowledging that you find yourselves in an unusual situation and are both out of your comfort zone can make your date feel closer to you and can establish a healthy and honest rapport that will serve you well.
11. Be an active listener
If you’re worried about being awkward, remember that you are only fifty percent of the equation.
There is a whole other person on the date with you, who has probably lived a full and interesting life.
Most people love to talk about themselves, so if you aren’t one of them and feel awkward answering questions about your life, turn the questions back around on your date.
Show them they have your undivided attention by asking follow-up questions and demonstrating that you want to know the answer.
Especially if you are dating a guy who is busy all the time, you will only get a limited amount of time to get in quality conversation, so don’t waste the time you could spend learning about his life.
Focusing on being an active listener and asking questions that you genuinely want to know the answers to allows you to distract yourself from your own feelings of awkwardness.
Hey, it’s me, Steven. Dating and relationships have always fascinated me. On Dategosu, you will find my best tips to make sure your next date is a great success!