There's nothing like that fluttering feeling you get before a first date. One part excitement, two parts nervousness – it's exhilarating. Of course, with a million things running through your head and all those butterflies in your stomach, it's easy to psych yourself out before you make it out the door. But finding out a few pertinent pieces of info prior to the occasion can help calm your nerves and ensure your first date doesn't end in shambles.
How to dress
Unless your date has a top-secret romantic evening planned, he likely won't have any qualms letting you know where the big date will be taking place – and locale is critical for wardrobe planning. This isn't simply because you'd like to look good for your date. Rather, it helps you plan accordingly. If your date plans to take you downtown where you know you'll be strolling several city blocks, opting out of those sexy new stilettos beforehand will save you the embarrassment and pain of hobbling back to your car later. First dates are nerve-wracking enough without being uncomfortable in what you're wearing.
When to meet
While arriving fashionably late isn't a total deal-breaker, it may not be the best tactic on a first date. Minimize any ambiguity – and the odds you'll miss your reservation – by clearly establishing the time you plan to meet. Equally important is finding out where you should meet. Will he be picking you up? Should you rendezvous at the restaurant? After all, your version of grabbing dinner "after work" might be wildly dissimilar to his. Now is not the time to leave things open to interpretation.
Where you'll be dining
If dining out is part of the first date equation, you won't be a buzz kill if you ask precisely where he made reservations. You know what would be a buzz kill? If he inadvertently picked a seafood restaurant, not realizing you have a shellfish allergy. Or if your diet is gluten-free, and he wanted to share something personal by taking you out for his favorite deep-dish pizza. By broaching the topic beforehand, you can rest assured knowing you're both on board. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to Google the menu and gets a sense of the cuisine he likes.
What's going on in the world
Nothing amplifies first date jitters faster than suffering through an awkward silence as you struggle to come up with something to say to the attractive person sitting across from you. Pretty much everyone has been there, which is why every woman's first date pregame should include a cursory scan of current event headlines. If you hit a lull in the "getting to know each other" conversation, having other topics to fall back on will keep things flowing and boost your confidence. Bonus? You'll uncover some of your date's passions and interests in an organic, unobtrusive way.
If you're ready
If this is the first time in a long period that you're dipping your toes back into the dating pool, you might need more time to heal before you jump into the deep end. Whether you're coming off of a major breakup or trying to move on after divorce, be honest with yourself about where you are. Even if you think you're ready to go on a first date, remember this: first dates turn into second dates and third dates and, down the road, deeper intimacy. Are you emotionally available for that journey yet? There's no shame in taking things slowly. And remember, be yourself. After all, your personality and smiling face were what attracted him in the first place. So shake off those butterflies, let your excitement show, and just be you.
About the Author
A native of Charleston, S.C., Julie Sprankles has been writing professionally since 2003. She received a double Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from Charleston Southern University. Formerly editor-in-chief at award-winning shelter publication "Charleston Home + Design Magazine," Sprankles now enjoys writing and editing full-time.