Got a question? Send it to me at [email protected]etriangle.org! My name’s Sadie Samson, and I’m an undergraduate student here at Drexel University. I love to write, listen and give my opinion, so ask away!
I’m not generally an awkward person, but after a couple months as a freshman in college, I’ve learned one thing: I’m terrible at dating. I’m not an ugly guy by any means — some would even say I’m an attractive, athletic dude — and I have no problem making friends and meeting new people. But when it comes to actually going out with women (mostly other college freshmen), I always, always, always mess it up in some spectacularly messy fashion.
For example, one time when going to the movies with a chick from my English class, not only did we show up at the wrong time, but the first thing I asked when we got there was whether she wanted to go “halfsies” or not, which of course instantly threw her into a sour mood and made the night awkward and hardly bearable. This is just an example, but what I’m trying to get at here is that these things happen quite often. I don’t employ the right etiquette in certain settings, I stand too close to her, I stand too far from her, I don’t show enough interest in what she’s saying, I show too much interest in what she’s saying, etc. I don’t know what I need. Any advice would be much appreciated.
You need to relax. Big time. Right now, you’re thinking so much about making things go smoothly on dates that you’re saying things and acting in ways that don’t necessarily reflect how and what you want to act and say. While it may seem counterintuitive, the perfect date does not come from attempting to make the date perfect as you go, but from being your absolute self while someone else is being their absolute self and enjoying your time together because of it. So don’t worry about standing too close or saying the right things, and just enjoy your time out with someone you want to get to know better.
That said, don’t completely not think when out on dates — remember to be considerate. Asking someone to go “halfsies” as soon as you get to your date destination is not only inconsiderate, but it is presumptuous. The girl you were out with may never have even expected you to pay her way and probably wasn’t even thinking about money when you brought it up. We may be in a recession, but that’s no excuse for rudeness. From here on out, either establish well before you go out who will be paying for the evening or assume that the person who did the asking will pay. This will keep the confusion to a minimum. No one will feel insulted, and the two of you will be left to enjoy the evening.
On future dates, focus more on the person you’re out with as opposed to the amount of physical space between you two. One of you asked the other out for a reason, and the other agreed for a reason — so focus on those reasons, and the rest will follow. Do you find her sense of humor to be just like your own? Do you two enjoy the same obscure band? Whatever it was that drew the two of you into deciding to go on a date and learn more about the other is what should drive the evening. Mention whatever that thing that connects you is (even if you think it’s lame, like how much you hate English class or something), and conversation will naturally flow.
That said, listen and be interested to what she has to say, and actually engage her in conversation. After talking for a bit, you’ll be comfortable enough to stop worrying about proper date etiquette and really enjoy the date, which will make everything go smoother in general. Don’t approach the date like something you need to perfect and be awesome at, but as a chance to get to know the girl you’re out with on a more personable level than in a classroom environment — that’s the whole reason you’re on the date in the first place, after all!
You say that you have no problems meeting people and that you’re a likeable person, and so I’m going to assume that you have good people skills. Employ those skills here, in a date setting, and you’ll be just fine. Just think about how you make new friends and how you interact with the friends you already have. More than likely, it’s just a combination of you actually being interested in them as people and being yourself. Dating is no different in many ways — it’s just interacting with one friend that you “like-like” (Yes, I went back to third grade for that one), instead of lots of friends that you just like. Think of the girl you’re out with as a potential new friend (albeit, of a special, romantic kind), and you’ll find your dates much less awkward in no time.
So all in all: be yourself, take an active interest in your date, engage your date in conversation, decide how you’ll decide who pays before dates, treat going on dates as making a new “friend,” and you’ll be just fine.
Best of luck to you!