Before a first date, what are you most nervous about? Many women agonize over picking the right outfit or worry that the guy will end up being a conversational dud. But have you thought about what guys are going through? It's not just your nerves you have to be concerned about going in to date number one. Oftentimes the guy sitting across from you is just as anxious as you are.
When I was in high school, getting ready to go on my first first date, my older sister gave me a piece of advice I will never forget: Focus your attention on putting your date at ease. Over the years, following this advice has spared me from being overcome by first date jitters and has been responsible for the fact that I have only had one or two dates that have totally crashed and burned.
Now, you could argue that your date has just as much responsibility to make you comfortable as you do. But that's not really the point. The point is, you're nervous about this date and the best way to calm down is to take your mind off of yourself. Like women, men worry about a lot of things going into a first date. But after talking to a group of six men, two common fears were identified.
This is what they said.
What if I do something wrong?
We women aren't such harsh judges that we would totally rule out a second date if a guy makes a few (non-creepy) first date blunders, are we? Regardless, it seems these guys have gotten the impression that one slip up (a la "Hitch" kicking Eva Mendes in the head?) could cost them.
"I feel like I have to be extra impressive on a first date," says Isaac. "I can't make any mistakes. My clothes, car, hair have to look just right. I can't say anything dumb or do anything awkward." When I asked him why he felt this pressure, Isaac explained, "I think guys feel like if we do one thing that comes off wrong, the whole thing goes up in smoke. That is a lot of pressure to be perfect."
Kevin agrees. "One thing that makes me nervous on a first date is the thought of 'did I get everything right?'" says Kevin. "Is she going to like this activity or restaurant? Was this sufficient? I can't help but wonder, 'Was this too typical or not done as well as she has experienced before?"
Peter also expressed anxiety about being found wanting. "I like to try to be myself on a first date, but there is also a desire to be found entertaining and fun too. The fear is that who I am might not be enough or won't receive a positive reaction."
This is important insight for those of us who are seeking to put our date at ease. Knowing going into the date that he is walking on egg shells, we might put some extra effort into letting him put his guard down a bit.
What does this look like? Make a point to be authentic. "Laugh. Have fun. Be silly; be yourself," suggests Peter. Kevin suggests that some verbal affirmation would be much appreciated. He suggests saying things like 'This is a lot of fun;' 'Wow, that was a nice choice for a restaurant;' or 'Thanks so much for setting this all up; you really thought of everything'.
"If a man puts forth the effort and vulnerability to plan an evening, then a couple of affirmations would be kind and a confidence builder," explains Kevin.
How into me is she?
If you accepted a date with a guy, you would think the answer here would be obvious: enough. But it turns out guys could use a little more assurance then, "I said yes to the date didn't I?" Guys want to know that this isn't just a sympathy date and that they are wooing you starting on good footing.
Doubts about how enthusiastic the woman is to be on a date is what makes Justin the most nervous. "Even though she agreed to go on a date with me there's a part that is still questioning (hopefully), could she really be interested in ME?! And I'm not just talking about physical attraction," explains Justin.
"I got most nervous about whether she is into me physically and not being able to catch her attention with engaging conversation," says Bill, "These two rank highest amongst my list of first date anxieties." Patrick agrees that he get's nervous about conversation. "If conversation is stilted or she looks uninterested/unchatty early I can get pretty psyched out" explains Patrick.
How to help make him more comfortable? Ask questions, and do your part to keep conversation up! Both Bill and Patrick mentioned that this helps reassure them that you are interested and engaged in the conversation. We hate it when guys don't ask us questions, so we should be sure we return the favor. "I think a pointed compliment or comment to put the guy at ease does wonders," suggests Justin. "Even something simple like: 'I was excited you asked me out' is nice—of course, only say this if it's true, but it will certainly give the guy peace of mind."
Photo Credit: Elissa Voss