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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating Triumphs & Tragedies > The First Date

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

First Date Survival Skills
5 Ways to Survive that Crucial First Date

We all know that a first date can be rather daunting, but once we actually get to the first date, it can be a bit harder than we expected.  Of course, often times, they are wonderful.  But some of them can throw us for a loop.

For example, what if the guy is so shy that it’s like pulling teeth and you end up forcing the conversation?  That’s hard work right there. 

Or perhaps the guy talks too much about himself and you can’t even get a word in? 


Maybe he (like most guys) is too easily distracted with what’s going on around him that he can’t focus on you and that can be a let down. 

Others might be too focused on you and that’s, well, creepy.  Some are intrusive with their questioning, while others seem to care less.  Some are nervous, but then again, so are you. 

So what’s a girl to do?  First dates are about getting to know each other, so when these little inconveniences pop up, it is good to know how to handle them.  Here are the top five situations that you might encounter on a first date, and how you can successfully breeze through them so that the possibility of a second date sounds amazing.

  1. The silent type: 
    I know that I, and several of my friends, have encountered this guy.  Maybe he is shy, nervous, or just simply doesn’t talk much.  But it can make for a difficult date.  If you’re trying to get to know someone and he doesn’t really talk, how can you have a conversation?  In the past, I have tried to induce questioning, asking him about work, his hobbies, etc.  Sometimes it works, and it’ll get him talking.  Sometimes I get a short sentence, then silence.  Other times I have been lucky, and something he says prompts me to say something that I have in common, and I can talk about my life a little without him having to ask, and then a little conversation gets rolling.  The important thing here is to get some sort of conversation going, even if it seems like a struggle.  Silence is okay sometimes, but on a first date, probably not the best idea.  You want to seem engaging, and you are!  But if he is shy, you need to put a little extra effort in.  Most likely, he will appreciate it, because it will make him a little less nervous.  And then on date two, he should open up a little more.

  2. The talker: 
    This guy could also be nervous, but his nervous habit is talking too much.  He doesn’t like silence, and so instead, he just keeps talking…about himself.  Instead of asking question about you, he goes on a tirade about his life, which can be a little draining.  Often times, people don’t know they are doing this.  The best way around this one is to try and catch him when he takes a breath.  Then perhaps pick up on something he said and how you can relate.  It should make him realize that you have something to say too, maybe even things in common, and again, conversation should come.  I have been on dates with some talkers, and they later told me that they felt they were talking too much, but they were just nervous.  So cut him some slack.  It’s not an ego thing most likely, it’s more that he just likes you.  So take it as a compliment, and then just try to get a couple words in.  He does want to know more about you, he just has a strange way of showing it.

  3. The Jitterbug: 
    Again, it’s all about nervousness and how they show it.  This guy is jittery.  Can’t sit still, easily distracted, looks around, plays with his coffee mug, and doesn’t make eye contact.  You want him to look at you, but you think he wants to be anywhere but with you.  That’s not the case.  It’s a first date, everyone has the right to be nervous, but some just show it in different ways.  Try to be relaxed so that he will be calm also.  Have a funny story?  Go ahead and tell it.  It will ease his nerves and get him a little more focused.  Just be yourself and then you’ll get to see the real side of him.  Not the shaky one.  And maybe next time, don’t go out for coffee.

  4. The Interviewer: 
    Sure, you want to get to know each other, but does this guy give you the feeling that you’re being interviewed for the National Inquirer?  Is it question after question about your personal life, and you don’t really know how, or want, to answer?  It can be a little uncomfortable if he just keeps whipping out questions and you feel you have to answer everything, but don’t get to ask anything in return.  Sure, he wants to learn more about you, but too many questions on a first date can be intrusive, and besides, what will he have left to ask you on a second, or third, date?  You have to turn the tables.  When he asks you a question, give it back to him.  Say, “you first,” or, “what about you?”  It might catch him by surprise, but at least it will get him talking and you getting to know a little more about him.  Maybe then he will realize that you want to get to know him too, and you can engage in a little banter that will be encouraging for the both of you.  And less stress for you!

  5. The Awkward End: 
    Sure, the start of a first date can be awkward, but what about the end?  Do you hug, or maybe kiss?  Make plans to see each other again?  And who brings it up?  Who decides?  As you get to the end of the date, these questions might be looming, and even if things were going great, that nervous feeling that you had early on might be creeping up again.  Don’t let it.  If you had a good time, go with that feeling instead.  Don’t ruin a good thing by being anxious about what will happen next.  Go with your gut.  Let things happen naturally.  Give him that hug!  You know you want to.  And if you want to see him again, tell him you had a nice time and you’d like to go out again.  If you did have a nice time, chances are, he did too.

The point is to not let first dates be as daunting as they seem.  You’re just meeting someone, after all, and we meet people all the time.  The thing about first dates is that most people think ahead too much, and the better thing to do is just stay in the moment.  Of course, you might hit roadblocks, and maybe you or him might not be the best at conversation right away, but chances are you will both warm up to each other.  Just try to enjoy the company you are in, and with any luck, you’ll be enjoying that company for a second date too!


Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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