Dating, as most humans who engage in it have no doubt observed, can be a major source of stress — especially first dates. You can waste a shocking amount of time worrying about your outfit, where you’ll meet up, when you’ll meet up and whether or not the date will go well.
Here are eight reasons not to stress about the first date:
1. You get to judge, too. It’s very easy to waste a whole lot of time worrying about whether the person you’re going on a date with will like you. But your precious hours are probably better spent thinking about whether you like your date. As Tom Hanks’ character tells his fictional son in “Sleepless In Seattle,” “This is what single people do. They try other people on and see how they fit.” Spend your first date evaluating whether the person sitting across from you seems like a well-tailored suit or more like a ill-fitting item that’s better left on the rack.
2. There’s no need to be elaborate. The focus of your first meet-up is getting a feel for the other person. That means that lighthearted conversation is paramount — not a super creative plan that involves multiple stops, top-tier restaurants and hipster underground bars. Just pick a coffee shop/bar/restaurant where you feel comfortable … or make it really easy on yourself and make your date choose.
3. People are open to a lot of different date venues. Judging from a new infographic from dating site HowAboutWe.com, Americans are open to a wide variety of dating activities. If you feel like eating frozen yogurt, seeing an art exhibit, going bowling or drinking a glass of wine, chances are that your date will be into it too.
4. You don’t have much to lose. You don’t know the person well yet, so you probably aren’t all that invested in them romantically. No matter how badly it goes, you’ll get over it fairly quickly. That’s the true beauty of a first date.
5. You can keep it short. If you plan something casual, it’ll be over in approximately the same amount of time it takes you to watch two episodes of “Girls.”
6. If it goes really badly, it’ll be a good story. Some of the most entertaining conversations you can have with friends revolve around dating horror stories. Whether you’re recounting the story of the dude who casually mentioned that there was a rapist who hadn’t been caught in his neighborhood, or the tale of the girl who wouldn’t stop talking about her 10 cats, those hours of awkwardness are sure to elicit laughs for years to come. If your first date goes completely awry, at least you have fresh material for your next friend dinner.
7. It’s nearly impossible to run out of things to talk about. The first date covers all of your basics, which means that there are a lot of things to discuss: jobs, families, hometowns, hobbies, living situations … the list goes on.
8. It’s (mostly) out of your hands, so why bother worrying? At the end of the day, all you can really control is how you behave. Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life and maybe you won’t. Whether or not the two of you click is largely a matter of luck, so just be genuine, try to have fun and then move on afterward. Breathe and remember — it’s only one date.