You did it. You made your profile, did some swiping, sent some messages, and now you’ve asked someone on a date. But where do you go from here?
Rule #1: Don’t panic. Keep in mind that it is just a date. Keep those “This could be the person I end up with” and “We’re probably not going to make it very long” thoughts out of your mind. This is just two people spending an hour or two together to see if there’s something there. The worst that can happen is you realize you two won’t work together, and that’s not too bad.
Rule #2: Keep it light and casual. Expensive, over-the-top or excessive dates put too much pressure on both of you and can suffocate any possibility of a relationship.
The whole purpose of the first date is to get to know the other person, not to overwhelm them. And if you’re a romantic, small gestures can carry a lot more weight than big, flashy ones, whether that’s seeing the movie they want to see or offering to cover the cost of their coffee.
Some examples of good first date ideas include picnicking, seeing a movie, going to a museum, mini-golfing or volunteering at a dog shelter.
Rule #3: Don’t go too deep too fast. I once went on a date in which we did those 36 questions that are supposed to lead to love amongst strangers. It was an interesting experience, and I’m glad we tried it. However, as a first date, it was too intense.
We came to know very intimate things about each other before even asking what makes the other person laugh or what they like to do in their free time. Exposing each other too quickly, in a metaphorical sense of course, can make the dating experience feel too rushed and too intimate. Explore each other slowly, and gradually to build up the trust in the relationship.
Rule #4: You do not owe your date, and there are no expectations that you should be pressured into fulfilling. If you are uncomfortable with something, make that clear. Do not let your date pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do. If you begin to feel unsafe, take an Uber or Lyft home, call a friend that knows you’re on said date (or the police if necessary), and don’t let them take you to an unpopulated, unfamiliar area.
Most of the time, going out with people you meet online will be pretty safe, but stay cautious and aware that this could be one of those few times. Awareness never hurt anyone, so please, create a back-up plan for yourself in case your date begins to go awry.
Rule #5: Have fun! Keep an open mind, and be willing to go a little bit outside of your comfort zone. You never know what new things — or people — you might discover. If you find that you don’t enjoy that new thing or vibe with this person, then at least you can say that you tried.
You’re young, and there is still so much more to explore out there, so give it a shot!
Want more advice for your next Tinder date? Contact Arianna Lombard at ariannal ‘at’ stanford.edu.