Any advice for loosening up on a first date?


siguelacumbia asks:

Any advice for loosening up on a first date and being less serious and non-talkative?

I have a habit of being very serious and not jokey and very short in responses and not talkative when I feel uncomfortable.
I’m going on a first date with a girl tomorrow which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, so I’m worried I may fuck it up in that way.
Any advice? Is downing just one shot beforehand a bad idea?

Demetrius says:

I love this question, because it speaks to an experience I’m all too familiar with. I am, by my nature, a very serious person, and a non-talkative person. I tend to be more introspective, and nothing typifies that more than one of my favorite weekend activities: Avoiding human interaction at all costs. There are some weekends where I wont check my phone, which you might have noticed if you ever tweeted me on a Saturday and I replied to you on a Monday morning. I bring this up because I’m naturally serious and not that talkative, so you not naturally loose, but I still succeed in dating. Here’s how:

The biggest thing for me has always been practice. Sometimes that involves playing through conversations in my head as if it was a choose-your-own-adventure sort of story, sometimes it’s “workshopping” anecdotes, stories, or jokes the way a comedian might workshop new material. I don’t go around repeating the same stories to the same people, but if I’m on a first date and I’m stuck, I’ll tell a story I’ve told on a date a year ago or to my friends recently, if I know it’ll go over well. Which leads into another tip, have conversations ready to go. Some people are just naturally good at conversations and they have something to say about just about anything. If you’re not one of those people, it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation ready to go in case of emergency. Build up a stable of stories for any date situation and eventually you’ll find it easy to keep conversations going. Oh and if you’re bad at conversations in general, remember that the simplest thing you can do to move a conversation forward is to ask someone a question you’d want to answer, and to ask them the same questions they ask you. If you’re particularly passionate about a hobby, ask them about their hobby, and answer the same question, even if they don’t ask you. If they ask if you have siblings, ask them if they have siblings. Finally, remember think of conversations either as buildings, or thought bubbles. Whatever the foundation, or the center of your conversation is, build on it.

If you’re saying to yourself that you’re not interesting enough to have stories to tell, I’ve got two things to tell you. First, you’re probably selling yourself short. Second, if you really aren’t that interesting, you can’t fake it. Go out there and experience more of life. Travel if you can afford it, develop a hobby, learn something new every week, read more, write, listen to podcasts, watch more movies and television in a critical way, volunteer. If you build a rich enough life, you’ll have stories to tell.

Besides that, I would recommend not placing the people you go on dates on a pedestal. It’s easier to loosen up with someone if you don’t think of them as being “above” you in any sort of way. It doesn’t matter how attractive someone is, or how smart they are, remember that they’re on a date with you, so they clearly think you’re worth giving a shot. A little dash of indifference never hurt either. It’s extremely easy to be loose on a first date if you don’t care if it goes well or not. Not saying that you shouldn’t try to make it go well, but if you’re resigned to either a good or bad outcome it’ll help you relax a little. It works for me, hence the whole blog name, you know?

Of course, these are just general tips for keeping a conversation going and loosening up, but it seems like in your specific situation you’re a serious and curt conversationalist because you’re uncomfortable, which is the real issue. I’m guessing that the being serious and the curtness all stem from being uncomfortable. The quickest, simplest sounding solution is “become comfortable”, though what that looks like is going to be different for everyone. I mentioned earlier that practice is one of the things that helps me out, and what I was really saying is that practice makes me comfortable. Like a lot of people with big imaginations, I am often anxious about the unknown. What makes me more comfortable, and less anxious, is preparing for the unknown. I do that by preparing for the  best case scenario and worst case scenario and it makes me comfortable. Preparing for the best case scenario is often overlooked, but trust me, some people are afraid of good things happening to them just as much as they are afraid of the worst things happening to them. The trick for you, dear reader, is figuring out why first dates, or interviews, or anything else makes you uncomfortable, and figuring out the best way to make yourself comfortable. Some people can figure that out on their own, and some people need help. Nothing wrong with either, and I would encourage you or anyone to seek out professional help on the things you know are holding you back in life. I’ve done before and I’m a happier person for it. Preparing for failure comforts me, so that’s what I do.

What I would not recommend is using illegal drugs or alcohol to make you more comfortable on dates. If you’re on prescribed behavioral medications, that’s perfectly okay, but using alcohol to help you feel more comfortable is a bad idea. Mostly because alcohol is a depressant, but also because it’s not specifically designed to treat mental disorders. One beer, or one shot might help you loosen up in the short-term, but it’s probably a better idea to figure out how to get comfortable on a date without needing a drink. I’m neither a licensed mental health professional, nor am I a licensed substance abuse counselor, but even I know it’s a bad idea to build a dependency on substances to help you get through first dates. Think of your discomfort on first dates is like a knee injury. Through effort you can rehab your injury and learn to walk without the aid of a crutch, or you can choose to walk with a crutch forever. Alcohol is that crutch. So while I’m not against you taking a shot before a big date now and then, teaching your body to rely on that, rather than just figuring out a way to move past your discomfort. Again, I would highly recommend getting to the root of why you’re so uncomfortable before first dates. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Even if you don’t, please know that alcohol isn’t the answer.

Good Luck Out There.

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