Relationships

My First Date Ritual

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

In my twenties, I would always do the same thing before a first date…

On the cab ride to the restaurant or bar, I’d feel a little excitement mixed with… slight panic. My #1 fear on dates (other than getting locked in a tiny restaurant bathroom) was running out of conversation. What if we had a dreaded awkward pause? What if we stopped talking halfway through dinner and just SAT THERE?

So, in the backseat of the cab, I’d do what any self-respecting woman would do: I’d call my mom. “You’re only responsible for half the conversation,” she would remind me, calming my nerves. I just needed to say some things, not all the things.

My other patented first date move was wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt from Urban Outfitters — kind of like this — since I loved when the shirt would slip off just one shoulder. What is it that’s so flirty about collarbones?

It’s funny to think back on first dates now. I still remember the thrill of getting ready, and the spots I went to: movie theatres, dive bars on Houston, an Italian hole-in-the-wall. I had a love/hate relationship with dating when I was actually doing it (and was always wondering if I would EVER meet the one), but looking back years later, I only remember the fun parts of course. :)

How do you get ready for a first date? Do you have a go-to outfit or perfume? Do you give yourself a pep talk? Or take a shot? Do you always go to a certain spot? I’d love to hear your rituals.

P.S. My sister’s genius dating advice, and Alex and my first date.

  1. I HATE first dates, obvs a means to an end, but i just dread them – always used to cancel, now i force myself to go – always just a coffee or drink, no meal on a first date.. Use an app called Bumble which is .. interesting!
    Luckily i can talk for england so no probs on the convo front, but i’m often bored, or ready to leave.. it’s such a cringe thing at the end of that first date isnt it!!
    http://thewanderlusthasgotme.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/24-hours-in-paris.html

  2. Jenna says...

    I’m so inspired by reading all of your comments, ladies! It reminds me that us singles aren’t alone in this.

    Since a lot of my friends haven’t had much experience with blind dates/online dating, I’m pretty much on my own! I usually pick out my outfit the night before and I always have a slice of toast (or two!) before I go out. It’s good to have something solid in my stomach to soak up the nerves – and the drinks!

  3. Drew says...

    I like your collarbone comment, very funny but you’re right, they are sexy for some reason. Great blog thanks.

  4. Anna says...

    One of my friends got really into cycling in college and started asking girls on bike dates. They would meet up on their bikes and then ride together to movies, dinner, or whatever. It was a surprisingly good strategy for figuring out if his dates were willing to be spontaneous and try new things.

  5. Caroline says...

    I met my boyfriend on Bumble after 2 years of some pretty awful dates. I live in a city where every single person I know uses the apps to date and many of my friends are in seriously relationships due to Bumble/Hinge etc. I probably went on about 25 first dates and was interested in a second date with maybe 5 of them. I think a good rule of thumb is to not fear the rejection. I’m pretty picky myself and turned a good number of guys down for that second date, so in the times that I never heard from someone I thought I had a connection with, I didn’t take it personally.

    I also feel like I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted when I started to date (I was broken up with at 26 and thought my life was over and I’d be an old spinster forever, ha!). I became a more confident, self assured person and even my friends commented on changes they saw with me in that time of my life. I’d leave most of those dates, no matter how they went, proud of how I handled the situation and impressed by my ability to hold a conversation with just about anyone.

    The funny thing is, I had declared to my sister (who had just met her new bf on Bumble just weeks before) that I was done dating and stopped “swiping.” However, my now boyfriend replied to my initial message a week later because he had been on a ski trip so I told myself this would be my exception and then I’d be on a break for a while (he was too cute to say no to :).

    • love this story, i’m on bumble too and often announce i’ve stopped/given up and then get dragged back in! I agree on the ratio of 2nd dates too x

  6. Sharon in Scotland says...

    My love life has been sparse to say the least. At 52 I’ve only had one date in my early 40’s, on Plenty of Fish, which led to a 4 yr relationship. Apart from that, a few encounters, but nothing else. I’m coming to the end of a 6 mth subscription on match.com…………….not good! Lots of men look, make me their favourite, wink at me, but nobody sends a message and if I say “hello” nobody gets back, they don’t even hit the automatic, “thank you but no thank you” option. I’m going to cancel the subscription in Dec and try again in the spring when I’ve re-grouped and had a think. I love living by myself, I don’t want to get married, live with anybody or have anybody live with me, but I want more than I have. I think I may have to resign myself to the fact that it will never happen, that men my age are looking for 35 yr women and I am doomed to get granpas.
    My one and only date was fun though, exciting and nerve racking, I remember having an enormous glass of white wine on the roof terrace of Brown’s hotel in Edinburgh just after he met me off the train from Glasgow

  7. Hey Joanna!
    Your first date is nice and romantic. You tells about your shopping what you like and wear. Your shopping is interesting. You look very confident at your first date. But i was a little bit confuse and my conversation was a great and top which we discussed was very interesting.

  8. Nikki says...

    I have a love hate relationship with dating. I’m super outgoing and extroverted so I love meeting new people, but it also makes me a bit lonely and makes me wish I had someone. It’s hard dating, but it also can be very rewarding. My network of friends has grown considerably.

    Here are my go to moves-
    – Now with online dating like Bumble and Tinder, I only go out to EAT (breaking the common rule everyone said above me). If a guy doesn’t want to “eat” and only “meet for drinks” it makes me think he is less serious to meet someone. Also why go through all the work of getting ready for like two cocktails. Also I hate feeling tispy, so dinner allows me to drink more.
    – I share my “location” on my iphone with my friends before going on dates.
    – I don’t talk to my future date very much via texting and email before the date. Being “pen pals” leads to already knowing so much about the person and can make small talk conversation that much harder.
    – I read Aziz’s book Modern Romance. It changed the online dating scene for me.
    – My do to date outfit is a tight high necked long sleeved black body suit from american apparel (sexy, but shows little), high waisted black pants, a cool belt and the black Madewell mules. Comfortable to walk in and give your butt a cute lift.
    – I also always ask the waitress for a drink with a napkin. If I go to the bathroom I always move my drink closer to my chair and throw a napkin over it. Crazy- I know, but it gives me piece of mind. I always explain to the guys that it’s a silly habit I picked up from when I use to bartend. They can probably see through it but I don’t care.
    – I also get ready to intense gansta rap. It reminds me how powerful I am.
    – Lastly, my therapist gave me the best advice. She reminded me to tell myself after every date that while I was lucky to have met someone new it was truly the man who was lucky enough to spend an evening getting to know me. If it didn’t work out, I remind myself I probably taught my date a lot about urban education (I’m a teacher) and that he was lucky to have spent time with me. It keeps me from getting burned out about dating.

    Reading these comments reminded me we are all in it together. :)

    • Sasha says...

      Azis Ansari’s book totally changed my perspective on online dating too! I was totally over it but decided to give it another chance after reading that and met my boyfriend soon after. I always think Azis is basically responsible for our relationship haha!

  9. Jenny says...

    Ladies, your posts about dating are wonderful. Keep them coming, please. We single women out here need all the support we can get. Dating in NYC is very hard, especially when you are racing against an expiration date – wanting children adds to the stress of it all, doesn’t it? Though I have some amazing, even hilarious dating stories to put in the ol’ archive, being single blows. The more experiences I have, the harder it is for me to get back up, dust myself off, lick my wounds, and start all over again. It’s easy to feel alone in this when my lovely friends are moving forward in their lives with marriage and children and mortgages… you ladies know what I’m talking about. The only thing that gives me hope when feeling hopeless is not reading articles about how awful dating is in NYC, but hearing stories from you about how you met your partner. So, thank you.

  10. Carrie says...

    I met my husband on a blind date 21 years ago and knew immediately I’d look into his beautiful green eyes forever. A couple decades and a couple kids later, and his green eyes still sparkle over me. I don’t remember any of my own dating rituals; but I remember his–he always kept a Tic Tac in his cheek. Sparkly eyes and fresh breath!

  11. I met my boyfriend online (match.com, woot woot!) about 2 1/2 years ago. Sometimes I’d just meet up for a cup of coffee to see if any of the online chemistry translates to in person. Sometimes I’d skip that step. My rule for a “real” first date is to have some sort of an activity-bowling, painting, or, in my case canoeing. If you’re doing something with your hands, you put some of the focus and nervous energy on that and then you’re a more natural version of yourself. I love a nice meal, but something about the overly intimate dim lighting and the tendency to drink wine instead of talking too much does not work for me.

    For those of you ladies getting back out there, you’ve got this! You are a woman with experience and can filter through the b.s. so much faster now. Quality men will find this very appealing. =>

  12. I always wear heels because I’m 5’9 and I want to be sure I’m not with a shorty ;)

  13. Aga says...

    This post feels incomplete…

  14. Karen says...

    Joanna, please make a post on online dating profiles. I would love to read the wide array of profiles out there- the funny, the serious, the in-between. Also, maybe add a segment on how to write a profile? I’m too scared to make a profile on all the cool apps because I never know what to say or how to describe myself.

    • Caroline says...

      Agree! When I was using these sites, I couldn’t think of anything for my profile headline so I went with a straightforward “I am neither crazy nor fat.”

    • ilona says...

      Caroline, I am dyyyyying. And maybe stealing that if you don’t live in SF!
      And I second Karen’s idea!

    • Nikki says...

      My favorite line I saw on a guys profile was “I’m just looking for someone to share my trader joe sea salt turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds with.” I laughed at out and definitely swiped right.

      Mine has a “2 truths and a lie” game. It allows for a guys to easy make conversation.

  15. Wow, it’s been a long time since I had a first date! I met my husband nearly 13 years ago. I had a love-hate relationship with dating too. It was so exciting getting to know someone and experiencing those “butterflies” when wondering where that first date could lead to. Then there was the fact that it seemed to take forever to find “the one”. It took me 28 years to find mine but it was worth the wait!

    XOXO, Amy @ Jeans and a Tea
    http://www.jeansandatea.com

  16. Julia says...

    I get pretty anxious before first dates so I like to listen to stand up or comedy podcasts as a little ritual. They help to get my mind off the nerves, put me in the right mood, and help me approach the date with a smile and sense of humor. Plus routines like John Mulaney’s Xanax Story remind me there are worse things than a bad first date.

  17. Hannah says...

    Haven’t been on a ton of dates – but I’ve always done the same thing before a first date. I’ll leave work early and get ready SLOWLY. I take a shower, I curl my hair, I do my makeup. Naturally I’m always rushing out the door at the last minute, but that time calms me down. I’ll always remember this tweet I read from you so long ago, Joanna, where you overheard a guy on the first date tell himself “you’re doing great. seriously,” when the girl went to the bathroom. Helps me remember they’re just as nervous as I am.

    • Laura says...

      I love this! Definitely telling this to myself on my next date :)

  18. Cazmina says...

    Oh my goodness, I am so tired of dating! Well, a lack of dating, really. I’m currently living in a city where, long story short, the cultural norms make meeting someone difficult! But, being the romantic I am, I’ll keep believing that I’ll run into the right guy someday.
    I’ve never really had any rituals as such, but I always try to pick an outfit that is casual but still a bit sexy (either boobs or legs but not both) and that you feel ‘yourself’ in. A glass of wine while getting ready helps the nerves too.

  19. Lauren says...

    Hey Joanna, would you ever consider doing a post on your relationship with your Mom? More specifically what she did that ‘worked’ for your relationship growing up. My relationship with my mom is my most challenging one, and we have one daughter and another on the way and any time I hear you speak about your mother, I wish for that closeness. I feel like I’m already just like what do I do to be a good ‘friend mama’ to my girls?!

    • Andrea says...

      I second this, Lauren! No babies (yet), but I have the same challenging relationship with my mom.

    • Allie says...

      +1 on this.

    • Björg says...

      I would love that too!

    • Jamie says...

      Yes please do, I get those same pangs each time she mentions her mom… My mom says nice things to me and everything, but we are certainly not close, it feels like there are miles between us. Embarrassingly enough I also get those same pangs each time Joanna writes a post about motherhood.

    • kathy says...

      yes – mom of 2 girls and love this idea

  20. Erica says...

    Loving all the tips and sweet stories. I’m 33, looking to start dating again after a break up and am working hard to be brave about getting back online. Is it normal to feel like crying before going on a blind date?! I find the ritual of going through my skin care routine (all the toners and serums) helps relax me and feel my best.

    • Be brave & get online. Long story short, at 39 (never married/no kids) I met someone through online dating & he is, by far, the best human I know; we are madly in love. Take the plunge & DO IT; I am a believer in the process. Yes, crying is very normal–the process is DAUNTING. Good luck.

    • Lauren says...

      I just started dating after being married for 8 years (together for 11.) I’m 34 and I have yet to venture into online dating, however, I do most certainly feel like crying before every date! Not out of sadness, just nerves, the unknown, the “I thought I was done with this!”, and the hope. You are not alone in this. We can be brave together.

    • Megan says...

      OMG Melissa this is what I needed to see right now! Thank you for the encouragement. I’ve been feeling for months that this is what I need to do (I’m outgoing and gregarious so it’s never been hard for me to meet people, but meeting someone with my level of loyalty has been impossible). So thank you! I will channel your bravery!

  21. Alex says...

    I reluctantly agreed to go out on a date with a guy I met on the first day of medical school. He’s a couple of years younger – he was 19! (you can start med early in Australia) and this put me off. I liked him as a friend, and thought one dinner would settle that for him too. I drank a bit too much wine at dinner (two glasses *fans self*), fell asleep in the movie (La Vie En Rose) invited him in that night and promptly fell asleep again! 9 years on, we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

  22. Ingrid says...

    Believe it or not, I’ve only had two first dates in my almost 70 years. The second guy I went on a first date with turned out to be the love of my life. He’s still fun to go out with, and come home with. I’m so lucky!

    • That is so heart warming and wonderful! Lucky indeed! ;)

    • Tilly says...

      Hooray for Ingrid and her man!

  23. Cheryl says...

    If left to my own devices I’d probably be stuck in my head wondering every scenario that could possibly happen that night. So if I hit the gym a few hours before a date, I’d be forced to think about something else. Running and kicking away my nerves was incredibly freeing and bonus: I felt great from the endorphin rush. In that endorphin rush I used to remind myself I look healthy and strong, I am beautiful exactly how I am (imperfections and all) and I don’t need approval from anyone, even a cute guy at dinner. If it wasn’t meant to be, there were truly other fish in the sea.

  24. Amanda Blair says...

    I don’t think I have a pre-first date ritual other than remind myself, if it isn’t fun or doesn’t work, I can always leave.

    I have to say dating has been…..tough. I’m 31 and feel every ounce of “will I ever meet someone?”. I’ve given up online dating (for now) after my last experience– We met at a bar, the convo was great. We moved on to dinner and then after dinner sat outside the restaurant from 10pm to 1am. We just couldn’t stop talking/laughing/having fun. WHen we finally tore ourselves away, we grabbed our bikes and he leaned in to kiss me and it started raining. RAINING folks. As I rode away, in a monsoon, I thought to myself “that was straight out of a movie and I think I just met my someone.” Cut to a week after our third date, when we both returned home from trips, I get a text saying it’s been fun but he doesn’t think we have long term potential. AND I HAVE GIVEN UP LADIES. Although the commenter who met her partner at 33 gives me hope! Anyway, love this blog!

    • Miss K says...

      This is me but at 37!! OMG it’s so painful sometimes. After a bad breakup almost 2 years ago,i decided to get back into dating,things were going well but after the 3rd date? I got ghosted, I’m sick of these immature boys,yes boys because they certainly aren’t men. I removed all my online/app dating sites and am having a break.

    • Julie says...

      I can totally relate to you Amanda. I am in the same situation, and I feel like giving up. I try and try, but still feel as though I am NEVER going to meet someone. But, I guess all we can do is not give up hope. Just wanted you to know you’re not alone. Best of luck- I hope your right guy is just around the corner :)

    • Melissa says...

      FRIG, I felt disheartened just reading this. You sound like a great lady, DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!

    • Cathy says...

      I can empathise. I too gave up thinking that I would never meet anyone and had a series of awful dates and short term relationships. Then one of my good friends signed me onto a dating website and presented me with a months membership and an order not to waste her money! I met the 2nd person she emailed on my behalf and almost 11 years and 2 kids later I am amazingly grateful I never gave up completely!

    • Sarah says...

      Amanda – it’s the Sarah who met her husband on a random Tinder date at age 33 (I’m 36 now, and we just had a gorgeous baby boy!).

      DO
      NOT
      GIVE
      UP
      HOPE
      !!!!!!!

      Right before I met my husband-to-be, I was in a terrrrrible place. My crush from grad school from years ago had resurfaced, and things were going so well….

      We reconnected in the fall, but things really heated up between us around the holidays: dancing, whiskey, concerts, sushi, awkward airport rides, witty emails, inside jokes, smiling until my face hurt, darts, marathon episodes of House Hunters International, hot sleepovers, tangled limbs on couches whispering secrets to questions like ‘If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?’ Then he disappeared (no word for days!), there was a terse email on my part (cringe), and finally a raw phone call in which he called me neurotic and described us as “oil and vinegar” (I said that made salad dressing, and salad dressing is delicious).

      Yet on the day before Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 13th, I stopped by his apartment on my lunch break, armed with what only my quirky mind would deem a brilliant peace offering: a photo of mine (which he’d requested before) of cherry blossoms blooming in the spring in Kyoto, printed on glossy 8×10 paper with a crisp white border, and a simple note on the back that read “もののあわれ/mono no aware,” which in my mind he’d immediately – delightfully – Google and learn it translates to ‘an empathy toward things’. My way of saying sorry….and I want you (even though you’re mean to me sometimes). I told my friend Eric my plan beforehand and he called me an idiot. That still did not stop me.

      What did stop me was the cosmic timing of the universe. As I got to his apartment door, and there was already something taped to it. At first I was like, “Um, is that a GIFT?!” It was a pretty, intricate, origami wrapped thing with a note on it. I couldn’t help myself – could you? – and quickly lifted the top of the note to peek. It was from someone named J., about how she thought about him when she saw the gift but when she read his e-mail she knew he had to have it. I quickly backed away from the door, and then froze. I called my sister, who let out a loud shriek of laughter and shouted in my ear, “GET OUTTA THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I ran out the door and down the street, only slowing to rip my photo into tiny pieces and hurl in a trash can I spotted on the corner. By the time I got back to work though, I thanked my lucky stars that I never left that photo. I saw the writing on the wall, more specifically door, and could only run the other way.

      After that I moped on the couch for a while – drinking wine, watching Netflix, reading The Rules and random astrology sites haha – and then told myself I was done moping and had to get back out there (albeit never writing any future date a cringe worthy email). My very next date was with my husband-to-be.

      I never wrote him an email.

    • Hi Amanda–I also commented to another girl with this message: Get back on line, have precision focus when perusing matches & trust the process. I was 39, never married no children when I went on line. 39. 39! (do you know HOW old that is to men that are 39? They equate that to being 139 years old. I also got: “what’s your fatal flaw?? what’s wrong with you?? Literally said that.). But be patient & have a thick skin. I too met those ” I think I just met someone” guys; totally threw me off too. But you HAVE to push on. It took some time, but I finally met someone (through online dating) & he is, by far, the best human I know in every way; we are madly, madly in love & it’s been 2 years now. YOU ARE NOT TO GIVE UP. I am sure you are a woman who has never given up on anything she’s wanted in life/worked hard for it, so don’t now. It works. It will work. But YOU have to work IT, the system of online dating. There ARE great partners out there. I was THE WORST cynic, but I’ve been converted. Good luck! You are going to meet someone perfect for you!

    • Sasha says...

      Don’t give up! I live in London and know so many amazing women who felt the same over the years and are now in great relationships. I have friends who met their guys at 32 (on tinder after 3 years of frustrating online dating, 33 (first date of return to tinder after swearing off online dating for 6 months), 36 (random night out in a bar she’d never usually go to).
      I commented before that Azis Ansari’s book Modern Romance totally changed my perspective on online dating. After reading it I got back online with the idea of just getting into the zone with dating again
      (I’m 32, had been single for 18 months after a year long relationship with someone who was completely wrong for me). Before my first date I had a massive rant to my housemate about how much I hated dating, I was annoyed at having to put my date outfit on because it was a really hot day, I was missing the bachelorette to meet some random guy etc etc. I went and had a nice time but wasn’t at all sure about the guy. I’d resolved to give people a proper chance rather than feeling like I should “know” on date 2, so we went on a few dates (including one where I told him outright that I couldn’t make my mind up about him lol). 5 months later we’re still together and he is without doubt my favourite person in the world. Early days but i definitely didn’t expect to end this year in a relationship so I’m calling it a win.
      Dating can be brutal so take a break from it if you need it but DO NOT GIVE UP!

  25. The only “ritual” I have before a first day is a glass of red wine. It eases some nerves which makes me more excited!

  26. I didn’t have many “first dates” because my husband and I met pretty early on in college. We became friends for about a month before we went on a date. Even after spending time together as friends, we still had first date jitters. :)

  27. Sally says...

    It’s been a while since I went on a first date but back then, my favourite pre-date ritual was to masturbate. It made me feel sexy and self-assured but also powerful and independent.

    • Michelle says...

      I love this. girl talk just got real! Plus, this is brilliant.

    • Mikaela says...

      This.

    • Ro says...

      Once the shock of this comment wore off…I was left with one thought: Brilliant!

  28. Leah says...

    The last time I went on a first date was 10 years ago this week with my now husband. I only dated for three years in New York City, which seemed like an eternity at the time and like an instant looking back. Sometimes — especially when I’m downtown — I walk by a bar or restaurant where I went on a date. I have fond memories of those butterflies, which, of course, felt like nerves at the time. The other day I was searching my email and found one of those I-got-your-number-from-soandso messages. I could barely remember the guy, but smiled at the thought of that flirty anticipation!

  29. Anna says...

    I remember our first date and I was terribly nervous. My partner often tells me that he still has kind of “photo of me on that day” when he closes his eyes. Our date was seven years ago and it was wonderful. And our second date was very short but very charming. Second dates are crucial ;)

  30. Alison says...

    Some times I like to watch the “practice date” episode of Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope is going on a first date and talks about all the horrible things that have happened on dates in the past. It’s so funny, and reminds you everything is going to be ok!

    • Lindsay says...

      I have seen this episode so many times and even if I’m not watching it before a first date, it always comes to mind! Glad I’m not the only one ^_^

  31. Meg says...

    When I first started dating after ending a long-term relationship, I was TERRIFIED that my dates and I would run out of things to talk about. My best friend told me to think of three random things I could tell my date in case the conversation stalled (i.e., did you know that Tim Allen used to be a drug dealer??), which was definitely a helpful crutch. I still have stories I pull out when a date conversation is lagging, but now they’re more about my life (I’ve cultivated a list of personal stories — and segues to them — after going on many, many first dates). But by far the BEST first dates are the ones in which the conversation flows naturally and spontaneously. Having pre-planned stories just helps ease a little bit of the pre-date jitters. :)

  32. Nectar says...

    Usually I don’t expect much on the first date so, so I usually don’t dress up too much nor wear too much makeup, I don’t really wear makeup and I have a tom-boy style so I usually stick to my guns about that. I like jeans, heeled-booties and a simple classic top and a lip stain. I hope that we go on more than one date, and usually the 2nd or third, that’s when I start to get more gutsy up.

    my ideal date is dinner, improv or a comedy show and drinks after. I love to laugh and I feel if you laugh at the same jokes, it’s a good way of seeing what kind of person he is..that or his dancing.

  33. Jenna says...

    I can’t believe that nobody has said the obvious trick, heavy drinking!

    I met my husband when I was 23, before that I don’t actually remember any proper “dates.” Maybe I was in denial that they were “official” dates and thus saved myself the anxiety.

  34. Brandi says...

    This is crazy! I am going on a second date with a guy tonight that I really really like (have had a crush on for 3 years) and I am all caught up in my nerves. I came to the blog to read and try to relax…maybe it’s a sign to remember that it will pass. : )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      have fun, brandi!! xoxo

    • Hey Brandi, just wondering how your second date went? Will there be a third date? :) I went on a first date last week and although I thought it went well, I don’t think he feels the same way. But this blog post and the comments made me feel really brave: At least we try and put ourselves out there, even though it’s really hard.

    • Brandi says...

      Hey Coco!

      So the second date went well! Thanks for asking! We cooked dinner together and he brought wine and we just chatted until he had to leave to the airport. He actually lives 2 hours away from me and he will be out of town for a week and then i will be gone the following week, so he was squeezing in time with me real quick. So far he did ask me for a third date when are traveling is over. Hopefully the two weeks apart won’t make him change his mind but you never know.

      What makes you think this guy isn’t in to you? Has he brought up a second date? I know how hard it is! I remember when dating used to be fun in my early 20s but now I feel like you have to play the “cool girl” part. It’s like you are never allowed to just say that you are dating to potentially meet someone as a future partner, it’s taboo. I find a lot of women are just all around amazing, smart, beautiful, funny and it can be hard to wonder why such awesome people are left without a partner. At least we are in it together and I think if we just keep loving ourselves the right person will get it! My first date with this guy I did the unthinkable, I flat out said I want a relationship and that’s why I am dating. If he sticks around it will be great but if he doesn’t, oh well, just have to keep my heart open to possibilty!

    • Brandi says...

      And thanks Joanna! I love your blog!

  35. Roselynn says...

    my first date with my now husband was THE BEST. We essentially broke most of the rules of a first date- he had met me the evening before, at my work place at the time, asked me out on the spot. He picked me up in his truck (my door didn’t work!), we went to a local pasta restaurant (noodles? Sauce? For a first date?!?), and we were too excited to actually eat out food. We went to a terrible movie (so bad that i completely forgot what it was), and spent the rest of our time walking around the city talking. We were so nervous and excited we didn’t kiss. Sometimes the “rules” don’t matter so much.

  36. K says...

    My water broke when I was 32 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

    I called my husband first. He freaked out and told me to call my doctor (a natural reaction).

    So I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I called my mom. :)

    She remained incredibly calm, told me take a deep breath, hang up and call my doctor. Only then did I call my doctor.

    I will always, always call my mom in times of need – whether it’s advice for a first date or going into preterm labor. Moms know exactly what to say.

    • Abesha1 says...

      You can’t leave us hanging like that! What happened next?

    • K says...

      My midwife confirmed that I was in labor. I was rushed to the hospital (my mom met us there). Miraculously, they were able to stop my labor (I was already 4 cm!!) and I was on hospital bed rest for 8 days. Induced at exactly 34 weeks. I gave birth to a baby boy; he was just 4 pounds, 13 ounces. He was small but perfectly healthy – only spent 6 days in the NICU.

      That baby boy is now a rambunctious, curious, incredibly smart and silly 18-month-old. He surprised us with his early arrival and he continues to surprise us on a daily basis. I’m crazy in love with him… and so is my mom. :)

    • Abesha1 says...

      Wonderful! Thank you! 😊

      I’m not a midwife but I’m fascinated by birth (have two boys, myself) and so I’m even more curious now! Did your cervix close/move back? Did your waters continue to flow? Was that why you then induced labor? I’m so curious- it’s an unusual story! And happy to hear, that you and your son were safe and healthy.
      (Of course you don’t have to answer all that, but if you want to, I’m all ears!)

  37. Sara G. says...

    I would try to remember funny or weird things that happened to me throughout the day/week, or random relatable stories to help spruce up (potentially) dull moments on first/initial dates. Anything from the showtime guys on train to remembering that as a kid I used to think the sky was the ocean for the other side of the planet. Just random little anecdotes that maybe could introduce more interesting topics – and if the person I’m with couldn’t keep the convo flowing, then there was no second date. ;)

    Now that I’ve been happily with someone for 2 1/2 years, I find myself going on more “friend dates”, and feeling that same nervousness (and using the same tactics)! Although, now I have kind of an arsenal of goofy anecdotes or observations that I like to bring up in conversation which helps me not feel as anxious about the “what if” of boring conversation.

  38. Emily B says...

    I hated dating. It was mostly agony.
    I never went on a date that the guy didn’t pick up.
    I also never offered to split the bill until at least the third date.
    I put almost no effort into preparing for my first date with my husband. I didn’t think it was going to go well at all, thought I’d be back home in an hour or two. That date lasted until 4 am.

    • Sasha says...

      In the UK we have a tv show called First Dates. People apply to go on and are set up on blind dates at this restaurant with hidden cameras everywhere. It is FASCINATING to watch the interactions and work out why people have been matched! They interview all the dates pre and post date and it’s such an insight into people’s minds.
      No idea if you can access it in the US, but I think some of you would love it!

  39. I didn’t go on many first dates since I’ve been with my partner since we were 20 but I used to get so nervous that we’d run out of things to talk about! My remedy to this was to make a little list of topics to talk about on the ‘notes’ section of my phone. Things like recent holidays, things I could ask them, etc etc… I never actually used it but it made me feel better knowing I could always nip to the bathroom and have a look at my list if I needed to! Haha! Imagine if they had seen it…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that! it’s like dumbo’s feather.

    • Oh my gosh I thought I was the only one. Such a lifesaver just knowing I had it!

  40. The piece of advice your mother gave you it’s just SO TRUE.
    I think that most girls tend to feel responsible for the conversation and end up babbling not letting the conversation develop naturally.
    Love your posts – they are always so calming to read.

    xx Ana http://www.disasterdiary.de

  41. Jenn says...

    My dating season began with major anxiety. I think it took around three dates to hit my stride, which I feel I’ve settled into at this point. I dress up in something comfortable that makes me feel chic and is flattering (black jeans and elbow-sleeve tee, long necklace). I spend a little extra time on styling my hair (I think it’s my best asset, lol…… like Jo in Little Women). I usually go into the date giving myself the pep talk “I’m not convincing him to like me– I’m getting to know a new person that could be a great friend.” That way I put less pressure on the whole affair. If we click, then awesome! But if not, it’s no one’s fault and we can both move on.

    • Jenn says...

      not affair as in literally….. terrible choice of words lol!

    • Jenny says...

      Yes! I give a pep talk to myself in the mirror before dates. I tell myself some of the things I like about myself (“You’re witty, wise, and have really nice teeth!”) and remind myself that, as you said, I’m not convincing him to like me, but rather getting to know another human being. Sometimes it’s possible to be so wrapped up in worrying about whether or not they like you that you don’t realize you don’t actually really like them! Great perspective to have. *High five*

  42. Judy says...

    Oh, the anxiety and excitement of just thinking about that moment! I would always arrive a little early to powder my nose and get situated in a good spot at the restaurant, so I could see them come in. Then, I would call a girlfriend to talk about how nervous I was. A bunch of us who started online dating when it first came out would call each other while we waited. We came up with the mantra: Just be a blessing. So, to take a little of the edge off, we would just tell each other: “Just be a blessing.” It sounds a little silly, but seeking to be a blessing (rather than obsessing about our own “presentation”) really helped!

    • Karen says...

      oh. i really like this mantra. never thought to look at it that way. thanks!

  43. Madie says...

    I loved sitting at a bar on dates – I think it’s more comfortable and less in-your-face for the guys, and there is a little entertainment in front of you in terms of the bartender (or even counter seating at an open kitchen is great). Also, it allows for a little key proximity to your date (shoulders rubbing, knees touching) that provides SO much valuable information. Are there good pheromones happening? Do I want to lean in? Am I getting no vibes whatsoever? The most important communication is non-verbal! :)

  44. Jenny says...

    So my friend and I had this ritual of singing “Eye of the Tiger” to each other over the phone before a first date to help calm each other’s nerves :)

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Haha. Love this!

    • Jenn says...

      rofl that is my favorite new one!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha i love you, jenny!

  45. Cec says...

    Not necessarily a “First Date Ritual”, but luckily due to this “meet cute” I was able to avoid the painful and agonizing reality that is modern dating in the internet age.

    It was my last week of work at my previous job, and due to being late and pouring rain, I decided as I was already on my way to take the skytrain instead of walking as I usually did. As I was heading up the escalator to the platform, I noticed it was empty and there was a train in the station. Not wanting to miss the train, I run, nearly knocking some guy over as I snuck in the doors as they were closing. I apologized then tried to catch my breath as the train started moving. Not even 5 seconds later he goes “Excuse me, but is this you”, shows me my OKcupid profile on his phone, and then goes “I’ve JUST messaged you”. I had literally run into the train as he was messaging me for the first time!

    After I regained composure and the initial shock had worn off, we chat for one stop, then I tell him I’ll message him back. Sure enough when I go to check my messages a couple hours later, I’ve got two from him…one at 8:56am and a second at 9:00am saying “So crazy running into you like that”.

    Two days later we went on our first date, and today we’ve just signed a lease for our first place together!

    • Jen X says...

      This is just the best. Right out of a rom-com!

    • Adorable!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, so adorable, cec!

    • Cara says...

      THIS IS THE BEST STORY EVER! Hahaha I love it!

    • Jenny says...

      This put a huge smile on my face.

  46. Julie says...

    I would just be myself and not change too much. Wear what I would normally wear (but maybe a tad “nicer”), maybe add a little extra makeup. I wouldn’t stress. If he didn’t like me when I was “normal” then why would I want to pretend to be “better?”

  47. Caroline says...

    Back in my dating days, I used to arrange a lot of dates through Match. I am pretty extroverted, but looking for and greeting my date for the first time (sometimes in a crowded bar or restaurant) made me anxious. So I came up with a system – I would arrive 10-15 minutes early, head to the bar, order a drink, and text my date “hey, I’m here at the bar in the green dress”. If it wasn’t that crowded, sometimes I would make a joke and say “I’m in the top hat and overalls”. And then I would just sit back, enjoy my drink, and wait for him to find me – awkward searching avoided!

    • Carrie says...

      Thank you for this comment! That is the most anxiety producing part of any date – I have a blind date tonight and will do this! My usual routine is to pray they cancel (blind dates are nerve wracking!), talk myself into it, and then inevitably have a great time.

    • Janneke says...

      Hahahahaha i’m for sure gonna try this, hilarious! 😂

    • Caroline says...

      You can do it, Carrie! I think the other person obviously usually feels nervous too and appreciates knowing exactly where to find you. To calm your nerves while you wait, try to come up with the silliest outfit you can think of (you will crack yourself up, whether you decided to text it to him or not)!

      Pro tip – pay for that first drink in cash, before your date arrives – considerate and allows you make an uncomplicated exit, just in case ;)

      Have fun tonight!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s an awesome pro-tip, caroline.

  48. Nadja says...

    I think that, conventionally, we’re supposed to present the “best” (read: most socially acceptable) version of ourselves on first dates – and that kind of mindset makes us want to hide whatever our “weird” things are. My first date advice is to BE the weird version of yourself! Chances are, those weird things are actually the things you find most interesting about yourself, even if they aren’t cool in a mainstream way. If the guy is into your weirdness, it’s the best way to make a connection, and you know he’s really into YOU – and if he is turned off by that stuff, then at least you know right away instead of finding out many dates later!

    I’m a 20-year-old college student and am a pretty intense cook, which for my generation is atypical – it’s “cooler” to be the girl who doesn’t care about cooking and just orders pizza. On a recent first date, I ended up telling the guy all about my cooking, and about how it’s the foundation of my super-close relationship with my grandma. Not exactly the logical conversation one would have while trying to impress a frat boy – but he was into it! I cooked him a big, fancy dinner for our third date, which he loved even more, and we’ve been together for over a month now.

    Use your weirdness to your advantage!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, nadja!!

  49. I always listen to “pump-up” music while putting on make up haha! Then I spritz myself with special perfume

  50. Your mom sounds like such a level-headed wise woman.

    What feels like a lifetime ago, I remember standing on the platform waiting for my train, after spending a weekend with my best friend, and feeling defeated as I watched all these men come and go around me and thinking “REALLY?? All these guys and I can’t find ONE I really like?”

    I had been on a few first dates at that time and always felt like I was with the wrong person, instinctively.

    I met the one shortly there after and 16 years later it’s been pretty blissful.

    I don’t miss first dates at all :)

  51. Cara says...

    This is a great post! I am, too, past the dating phase (getting married next year), but I love what some other people said about having a glass of wine getting ready, taking your time, listening to music and keeping the outfit casual, but fun. My go-to outfit was always skinny jeans, a black tank top or sweater and flats with fun jewelry. It can be exhausting dating a lot and having to get all done up so often.
    I tried to not put too much pressure on myself when I was dating and I’d come out of a 5 year long relationship and hadn’t really dated in my 20’s at all, so it was an exciting time! Sure, I had some weirdos, just like everyone else :)

  52. Jenny says...

    I’ve discovered I have a first date uniform. I always wear black skinny jeans, a striped v-neck tshirt, black boots, my olive green army jacket, and a cross body purse. It’s the outfit I feel most myself in, which translates to feeling my most confident, and confidence is sexy. First dates are not the time to wear that cute top you look great in, but never wear, and will inevitably be fussing with the entire night. If the date is with someone I haven’t met before, I find out as much contact information as possible (last name, phone number, etc.) and pass it along to my mom (cheers to awesome moms that give dating pep talks and support) for a little added security. We have a code word that I text her when I am home safely. I prefer getting drinks on a first date, as opposed to food, because it allows us to focus on the conversation rather than menu decisions (“Will this be easy to eat without looking ridiculous?” “Will this make my breath smell like garlic?” etc.). I’ve also been known to have 1 small drink prior to a date to help calm my nerves a bit. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so cute, jenny!

  53. Sarah says...

    +“You’re only responsible for half the conversation,” – Love Momma Jo’s advice:)

    + Sitting side-by-side – I never realized that, but yesss, my husband loves sitting at the bar or side-by-side to this day.

    + Our first date! After years of where-the-effff-is-my-person (I truly trekked around the globe and actively dated for three years), I met my husband on a Tinder date at age 33. We decided to rendezvous at a wine bar downtown on our first date. I arrived early, and I unbeknownst sat next to his ex-girlfriend. Awkward! He didn’t mention anything when he came into the bar, but he never took off his coat or hat, and I thought, ‘this guy is so not into me.’ But we ended up hitting another bar, and another one after that over the course of the night. At the third bar, a total dive bar where we sat (side-byside!) in scratchy bar stools sipping whiskey on the rocks, he said he liked trivia. I just happened to have a tiny ring of little flashcards of world countries and capitals at the bottom of my purse. I had made them when I lived in Japan the year prior because my friend and I would use them when we were traveling just for fun. I pulled them out, started quizzing him, and he totally dug it! We’ve been quizzing each other ever since.

    • Alex says...

      “Momma Jo”
      As a 19 year old college student, this is exactly how I think of Joanna :)

  54. Brianna says...

    I hated dating. I’ve dated two guys in my lifetime and that was enough, so I quit doing it. I’m totally content being single. And only one of my friends lives in the same city as me, and she’s kind enough to never make me the third wheel. It’s a pretty sweet set-up, actually. Plus, I have total control over Netflix.

    • Go you, Brianna! Love your independent mindset!

  55. Jessica says...

    I actually love dating! Haven’t been on a real one in a while because I’ve wanted to focus on myself but I miss the “getting ready” part – it’s my favorite. I would have a drink, play happy music and just take my time getting gussied up. I love talking to new people so dating is exciting for me! But I will say I want a relationship now so the thought of getting back into the real swing of casual dating exhausts me as much as I do enjoy it.

    If anyone has any single brothers or cousins or old friends in Nashville who would be interested in an outspoken, curly-haired feminist – let a girl know ;)

  56. I once read the best first date outfit is a white t-shirt, black(!) bra, skinny jeans, and heels. That feels a bit too daring to me, but I always ACT like I’m wearing that outfit in my confidence level, even if I go with a nude bra or a different top ;) My only ritual is wearing lipstick and a pep talk from my twin sister the entire ride there :)

    I recently went on the best first date: trivia night! The first task together is to come up with a team name, which was a great icebreaker. And then the trivia rounds helped avoid awkward silences and were fun ways to get to know each other more. (I showed my major Harry Potter knowledge and he pulled out all the presidential facts.) It’s my new go-to date idea.

    • What a great idea for a first date!

  57. cooper says...

    My now-husband asked me about my favorite color on our first date – it was a super simple but sweet question!

  58. Natalie Brennan says...

    I ALWAYS wear flats. That way, if we take a walk after dinner or stand up at the bar, i won’t be wobbling around or getting blisters.

    • Yep, tumbled a little in my heels getting out of the booth on a recent first date – they appear to be too big for me, and I never wear them!

  59. I’m SO glad I skipped the dating scene – I would have been a nervous wreck. My husband and I met in college – became very close friends – and then just naturally started to be in a “relationship”, so I was able to skip all the interview style first date questions and awkward pauses, haha. I always tell myself it’s a good thing I met him at school, otherwise I would have been the absolute WORST dater.

    • Sarah says...

      Ditto for my husband and I! We met freshman year of college and 10 years and 2 kids later, we couldn’t be happier. Totally skipped the dating phase and seeing friends go through it makes me grateful I found the one early. Not even sure how I would navigate if I had to!

    • fizz says...

      I didn’t marry my husband until I was 31 and still managed to skip dating. I would never date a stranger. I always relied on group hangouts at bars or restaurants. I wouldn’t date someone my friends didn’t know.

  60. First date prep: casual clothes with a hint of sexy (boyfriend jeans, worn converse or cute flats and a fitted v neck sweater). A very light spritz of perfume (I love anything Jo Malone), and a fresh manicure.

    First date precautions: Only meet for drinks – never for food (bad experience with spinach… ). One drink maximum if the guy is a weirdo. Two drinks if he is nice but you aren’t feeling any sparks.

    Last, always offer to cover half the bill.

    • GLMJ says...

      exactly! pay for half! you had drinks/food too!
      I cannot for the life of me understand women who expect men to pay.

  61. Lauren E. says...

    Oh god, I really hated dating. The worst kind of social anxiety! But I will never forget my first date with my now husband, where we sat down at a booth and he bought me a drink and I said, “So! You’re a comedian?” And he groaned and said, “UGH okay, let’s get the career questions out of the way.” He put a hole in my “sparkly first date” facade right away and he’s been forcing me to be myself ever since :)

  62. I was always more nervous about second dates. I felt that I could think of enough stuff to talk about to get through any first dates, but a second date was a whole different thing.

    • Madeleine says...

      Same! I can fill up a whole date with “get to know you” type questions, but you really have to dig deep for the second date and hope you have something in common!

  63. A long time ago I read that men are more comfortable talking side by side and women are more comfortable talking face to face (Next time you are at a party, you’ll see this behavior happening!). Anyway, I too was always afraid of running out of conversation or that he wouldn’t want to talk as much as I do, so my trick was always to schedule a first date as an activity – a walk on the harbourfront, through the city park; whatever would allow us to walk side by side for a while. I don’t know if it always made a difference, but it did make me feel more comfortable!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great tip, kimberley!

    • cooper says...

      Love that! My husband and I always sit side-by-side at restaurants – this makes sense now!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      No wonder my BF always wants to eat at the bar rather than a table :)

    • my first first date with my now husband was at a restaurant/bar. we didn’t get a table, so we sat at the bar… for SIX hours.

      in a group situation, i do prefer the face to face thing, but side by side is something we do often. we sit on the same booth – it makes for easier sharing of food, holding hands under the table and sneaking kisses between bites.

    • Katy says...

      Going on a date with my husband tonight to celebrate 7 years of marriage. And we always belly up to the bar. And this talk about side-by-side sitting has got me very excited for our cozy night, sipping cocktails and laughing. And it’s supposed to snow tonight, too. Even cozier.

    • Katy says...

      Going on a date with my husband tonight to celebrate 7 years of marriage. And we always belly up to the bar. And this talk about side-by-side sitting has got me to excited for our cozy night, sipping cocktails and laughing. And it’s supposed to snow tonight – even cozier.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      have fun, katy! you guys sound adorable!

  64. Sarah Beth says...

    I feel the same way about only remembering the fun parts! I dated ENDLESSLY before I met my husband– I was in grad school and totally broke, so I would always try to line up a date on a Friday night at a Thai spot that served huge portions, and I would bring home leftovers to eat during the weekend! At the time it was awful dating so many randos, but now I look back on it as a really fun time in my life.

    I’ve been with my husband for 6.5 years, but it feels like the blink of an eye. And I only dated like crazy for about 2 years, but it feels like FOREVER. isn’t it strange how our minds play tricks with time?

  65. Chandra says...

    I haven’t been asked on a first date in so long– do guys still do that? But the few first dates I’ve been on in the past 3 years since being back in the states…I always wear Nars red lipstick. It just makes me feel instantly more put together even if I’m going for a relaxed look like jeans and white or black.

    I used to tease my Mom about always having lipstick on her teeth as a kid, so now I make sure to triple check that!

    • LR says...

      Same! Requesting help on scoping the dating scene :/

  66. Though my dating time was short lived, I would often search to see what we may have in common. Things that can help keep the conversation going. You’re an artist? My best friend is an artist and is working on this or that. A common one is New York! Everyone ha a New York story.