How To Avoid Bad Lines On A First Date
I was in a coffee shop the other day and could not help overhearing one of the most bizarre conversations ever. Sitting near me was a couple on a first date. The guy was polished and clean-cut, the girl slim and pretty. I would have thought nothing else about them if he hadn’t burst out with this atrocious line:
“You would not believe my experience with nail polish remover.”
I have never heard such a ridiculous statement in my life. Apparently, neither had she, for she giggled in the way that women do when they think the man sitting across from them is a complete idiot, but are too polite to say it. The man went on to talk about broadband, his loyalty (or lack thereof) to insurance companies, and central heating—all topics brought up and, so far as I could tell, discussed solely by him.
Witnessing this train wreck of a first date reminded me that over excitement on a first date can have, in general, three kinds of effects on your conversation: it can make you say too little, make you say too much, or make you speak complete nonsense.
The trouble is you may not immediately realize it when it happens. You may think that you are being witty and insightful, and doing your part to keep the conversation going. But unless your date has shown that she’s as engaged in the topic as you are, then you’ve probably lost her.
How do you avoid verbal catastrophe on a first date? Well, the first thing is to be honest about the kind of guy you are. If you are a worrier, a person whose nerves are set on edge in any high-pressure situation, then you should acknowledge it; for self-awareness is the key to unlocking the power of self-control.
Your worst fear on a first date is that you will either run out of things to say to her or that what you say will be unimpressive. I suspect that the guy who I overheard in the coffee shop had the latter on his mind. But you should never fall into the trap of trying to impress your date with what you have to say. Doing so will inevitably lead you to say something weird or awkward. Indeed, the best way to avoid bad lines on a first date is not to use “lines” at all.
Remember, it is only a first date. You need to think about the long game rather than putting all of your energies into a single evening. Hold back a little. Start with topics that are light, and that you know are familiar to the both of you. If your date is someone from work, you may want to ask her questions related to why she chose the profession that you’re both in. If your date is someone who you met through a mutual friend, you may want to mention people who you both know, so as to break the ice and make the mood less strained.
I have been on many first dates; and although I am not a worrier, there is always a concern in the back of my mind that the date will not turn out well. However, once I’m there and she’s in front of me it becomes much easier to find a natural rhythm to the conversation. The trick, I think, is to show genuine interest in her. Try to learn a little bit about what makes her tick. Instead of focusing on impressing her with the largeness of your personality, make her feel as though she is the center of your attention. This will go a long way towards keeping you from looking like a fool in front of a woman you’ve just met.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.