Saving the Dates
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Michele Bacigalupo

By Michele Bacigalupo

Photo courtesy of Guian Bolisay.

The first date is a bizarre ritual. On a typical date, two people agree to go out together, without the company of any other people they know. No friends–and especially no wingmen–allowed.

The initial date is an event that young people commonly expect to be a cocktail of anticipation and nervousness, with hints of awkwardness thrown into the mix. Yet individuals continue to endure the dating game in the hopes of finding “the one.”

However, according to data from the PEW Research Center, not everyone is on the prowl for a potential soulmate. While the average age for people to marry varies across different states, those who live in New York and Washington DC tend to delay their vows the longest.

In 2013 the median age for a woman’s first marriage in New York was reported as 28.8, with a median of 30.3 for a man. With marriage in the US reaching a record low and couples waiting to tie the knot later in life than they used to, it appears that a considerable number of Millenials are searching for “the one for right now.”

I don’t believe in placing bets on the first date. When two people meet for the first time, the desired outcome is irrelevant. In the beginning, it’s difficult enough just to talk to each other.

I’ve found the first hour filled with grasping for threads of conversation that satisfy each other’s interests. It’s fruitless to add more pressure to the night by setting expectations. If the other person is destined to gain the title of significant other, it’s better to let that happen naturally.

By embarking on a date with little to no expectations, you will act much more relaxed in front of the other person. As a result, you appear more confident–which is largely considered an attractive quality.

Despite either party’s intended outcome for the end of the night–be it a hug goodbye, a first kiss, or perhaps the promise of a second date–it’s vital that the night itself is enjoyable to both members involved.

Photo courtesy of Gideon.

While out on a date, the conversation is essential to the session’s level of success. Limit the discussion to only a few minutes of small talk. If you’re focused on the weather or the same cyclical topics you tend to bring up with your barista, chances are that your date is secretly planning an escape route.

Place an emphasis on asking the other person questions. Doing so shows that you’re interested in the answer. Questions also help keep the conversation flowing at a steady pace. For more thought-provoking roads of discussion, try asking questions that exemplify a date’s personality.

According to a study by psychologist Arthur Aron and other researchers, two individuals are bound to develop a close connection after asking each other a specific series of questions. When questions are presented that strike a deeper note, the researchers found that two strangers are more likely to fall in love.

For example, one of the questions from the study is “If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?”

By asking questions that require a moment to pause and think about the answer, the dialogue that follows is more likely to be a memorable one.

As should go without saying, there are some behaviors that are unacceptable on a first date. An important one is checking your phone throughout the night. If an individual is expecting an important call, then it’s understandable to glance at the screen every once in a while. However, it’s polite to explain the circumstances to the other person so that he’s aware you’re not acting rude on purpose.

Andrew Minafo, a 22-year-old New Yorker, tells BTR that he appreciates when a date “puts her phone away.”

Minafo makes a point not to drink alcohol while on a first date, or to make any assumptions about the other person. When he takes a girl out, he plans an activity that they can both enjoy, like sharing an appetizer at a trendy restaurant.

When first dates revolve around athletic activities or cultural outings, it’s more likely that one person (the one who suggested it) will be much more interested than the other. First dates retain the most potential for securing a second date when the night takes place on neutral territory.

Photo courtesy of Santos “Grim Santo” Gonzalez.

Casual restaurants and dive bars make excellent first date hangouts because the atmosphere is incredibly laidback. To make the best impression, restrict alcohol intake to only a few drinks, and offer to share a plate of food rather than splurge on an entire meal. This way, each person remains in control of the situation.

Going out to dinner on a first date can be unnecessarily uncomfortable, since a full meal demands a larger investment of time, money, and conversation.

As a general rule, try not to complain for more than a couple minutes about anything. Make an effort to act receptive and positive to what’s going on around you. When you’re in the company of a brand new person, think about the type of vibes you resonate. A first date is not the place to unleash pent up rage. While going off on a rant about your mom, roommate, or something that happened at work, your date is likely to feel attacked and unsure how to respond.

By all means, refrain from bringing up your ex. It’s highly unlikely the other person wants to hear about what went wrong in a past relationship.

Remember that above all else, dating should be fun. When a person agrees to go out with someone new, the setup is similar to the play dates our parents arranged back in elementary school. Whether or not the two personalities will mesh well together is a total gamble.

When it comes down to it, the risk of wasting a few hours with a stranger is worth the potential outcomes. Even if love isn’t in the stars, maybe you’ll find a new companion, or at least a cool new restaurant.

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