Written by Mitchell:
First dates can be fun, scary, insightful and awkward all at the same time. I’m going to be honest here and admit that I have been on more “first dates” with people than I can really care to remember. But I don’t make any apologies for this. I’m not saying that they have all turned into nourishing and fulfilling relationships, but if it wasn’t for taking the time to get to know these people, I wouldn’t have gained my confidence in social skills, I wouldn’t have listened to a diverse range of interesting (and sometimes extremely uninteresting) stories and I wouldn’t have been able to distinguish what I am looking for compared to what I am not looking for.
I still don’t know what I am looking for.
But I know that I have more chance of finding it through establishing a social connection with someone that has a possibility to form into a strong bond, rather than just sleeping with guys before I know anything more than their name.
I also have learnt the skill, no, the art of the first date. Below is a list of the Top 10 tips to help you have a successful first date. As usual, it’s tailor made for gay/lesbian relationships, but mostly transcends to everyone!
1. Don’t ever say “sorry if I look like shit.”
I’m sorry – but I just find it hilarious the amount of people that proclaim as soon as they meet you, “Oh sorry I look like crap!” or “I look really shit.” As if it isn’t obvious that you have just spent the last 25 minutes straightening your hair and you still have the tags on the new clothes you bought just for the occasion! Maybe it’s a nervous thing, but I just see it as fishing for compliments and I find it really awkward having to say “no you look fine” or “no you look hot” the moment you properly meet someone.
2. Always offer to pay, but don’t fight about it if they insist on paying.
Be careful with this one, because it just might set a precedent for the duration of a relationship. Society tells us that the one who pays is usually the one who takes the lead in a relationship. But it is 2012 after all. I like to take the lead and be the “man,” but I also don’t want to be strapped for cash because of always paying for two. For gay and lesbian relationships (and modern day straight relationships for that matter), I don’t feel that there needs to be one who pays for everything and makes the money, while the other is the cleaning and cooking 1950’s housewife. I believe in equality on every level, and I think this stance is a good one to have. Sometimes you pay, sometimes they pay.
My rule of thumb is to always get my bank card out and assume the role of the payer. It’s the sweet and gentlemanly thing to do after all. However, if your date also has the same idea and gets their bank card out, that’s when you say “oh don’t be silly, I’ll pay.” If they insist on paying – LET THEM! There is nothing more unattractive than bickering about who is going to pay for the dinner. And as good as your intentions may be, you could end up genuinely insulting your date, who may want to treat you. In this situation, where they insist on paying, be graceful, put your little bank card away, smile sweetly, and say “thanks very much, that’s really sweet of you.” If you’re feeling extra confident, you could also add “I’ll have to treat you next time.” At least this way there is more chance of there actually being a “next time.”
3. Avoid alcohol if it has any unwanted side effects on you.
We all know the side effects of alcohol. Most of us live with them on a weekly basis. But some of us get a few more unwanted side-effects than others.
In the winter time, the skin on my face becomes very dry. Last year it was particularly bad, and it was before I had identified a suitable moisturiser for my skin. One day, I experimented with this moisturiser that has built-in SPF protection, ie it was part sunscreen.
That night, I also went on a first date to a little Italian restaurant. Out comes a lovely bottle of white wine, and me, thinking it would be classy, begins to drink a few glasses with dinner. Wine has a tendency to make my face flush, and within a few minutes my cheeks were rosy. What I failed to realise however, was that the heat from my flushed cheeks had caused the sunscreen moisturiser on my face to lose its transparency. It looked like I had just put zinc on my face, or I was just initiated into some Aboriginal tribe.
My white face came to my attention when I popped into the rest room and, horrified, saw myself in the mirror. I panicked, grabbed toilet paper and used it to try and remove the white residue off my face. This only made matters worse, and I returned to the table with white moisturiser and little tiny bits of toilet paper stuck to my face. So embarrassing, and definitely something you should take into consideration when deciding on whether to drink or not.
4. Avoid alcohol if you don’t know your limits.
Isn’t alcohol great? It tastes great, loosens you up, enables you to lose your inhibitions and really let out the real you. But – if the real you is a booze hag who gets stupidly drunk off two cruisers, then maybe this isn’t something you should be revealing on a first date.
5. It’s alright to talk about your ex, as long as it is in the right tone.
In the straight world, bringing up your ex is a big no no. And it usually sounds alarm bells that you are not over your ex. However, in the gay world, where you often cannot just instantly remove any trace of your ex from your life – because of say, mutual friends, or mutual watering holes etc, talking about your ex isn’t the deal breaker it is portrayed to be. It is more common for gay guys to remain friends with their ex’s. I for one, have my ex as my housemate, which hasn’t been smooth sailing. We have remained partial friends and he is still part of my life, so I occasionally do bring him up. But am I still in love with him? Not in the slightest. Of course, common sense must prevail, and if you spend more time talking about your ex than yourself, well….frankly you don’t deserve a second date.
6. Never do anything sexual on a first date.
This is a hard and fast rule for the following reason: Going further than a hug and kissing on a first date makes you a whore. And even if you are just “in the moment,” you’ll leave a first impression that you are easy and you’ll take away all the excitement and apprehension of the dating game, easily defusing even the strongest of sparks between you. Keep it in the pants people!
7. Pick an activity that you are comfortable with.
I once had a guy who asked me on a first date to go “rock climbing.” While I was fascinated by the guy’s originality and creativity, the thought of me getting a wedgie on one of those hoistie thingys that you get harnessed into, or falling in front of someone I had just met, was enough to put me off.
For a lot of people, first dates are nerve-racking enough as it is, with the awkwardness and suspense of meeting an entirely new person, let alone being in a strange or unfamiliar environment.
My top recommendation is movies or coffee. Movies – because it is a classic choice, and if your date turns out to be a freak who collects human skin, you can just sit there and watch the movie. Coffee – because it’s easier to chat and get to know someone, it’s inexpensive and low-key. Personally, I don’t like to do dinners, because I find it really hard to balance eating and conversing simultaneously. I am also paranoid about the sounds I make when I chew and the way I hold my fork, and if my eating habits aren’t up to scratch (even though I’m the kind of guy who would eat pizza with a knife and fork).
8. Don’t try too hard or set unrealistic standards.
Let’s face it, if you over-exaggerate your job, your income, your social status or your cooking ability, eventually, if the date is successful and leads to more, they are going to be really let down and disappointed when they eat your modestly bland frittata or find out you’re a shit-kicker and not in middle management. You also run the risk of sounding like a jerk with an over-inflated ego.
9. Wait for them to contact you.
As much as you might want to text your date while you are still parked in your car relating One Direction lyrics to your newly discovered love life, you should always wait for them to contact you first. You don’t want to appear desperate and even if you really had a great time, or are desperate, give them the chance to let you know their thoughts first. Of course, if they haven’t texted you and it’s a day later, then it probably didn’t go as well as you thought. Or if he or she is waiting for you to text first too, then it’s obviously not meant to be. Relationships are seldom equal, and there is always one person with more power than the other. You should always attempt to gain the power in a relationship (and retain it) through any means possible. Letting your date come to you is an absolutely crucial part of power-play. And if you can’t even grasp an ounce of power from a first date, then there is no further help I can offer you.
10. Avoid awkward subjects.
Some people do have really messed up lives. Some people have had bad things happen to them. But telling your date about your brother’s heroin addiction while welling up with tears is probably not the best ice-breaker. In the same vein, showing your date 100 photos of your cat or going on about your nut allergies can be just as tediously detrimental. Believe it or not, many people do make the mistake of sharing too many personal and sometimes emotional stories about their life. The best approach is focusing on the positive, and in fact, focusing on getting to know your date rather than talking about you the whole time.
So those are my top ten dating tips. Now, you are free to go out into the world, armed with these ground-breaking dating do’s and don’ts, and immerse yourself into the fun world of slowly realising your chances are diminishing as fast as you are aging! Haha