First Date

Sometimes, I get hung up on money. It can be awkward to talk about who’s paying for what on a first meeting. I always try to pick places that I can afford, and I speak up if I’m worried about that. More and more, it’s a conversation I’m trying to have early, before emotions are entangled. That way, everyone is on the same page, and no one feels taken advantage of.

In the moment, sometimes I have difficulty remembering my favorite mid-priced places to eat, or the coffee shops I like in different parts of town. To combat this, I’ve made a list. Now, when someone asks me where I’d like to go, I can suggest crepes, craft cocktails, or well-brewed tea.

Familiarity is another perk I’ve discovered in developing relationships with my favorite first date places over the years. Often, I’ll go a little early and check in with a barista or bartender, letting them know I’m on a first date. More often than not, they offer to check on me, or to develop a signal, just in case I’m in distress. I still might be nervous, but it’s awfully nice to feel like I have some backup.

Unless I have a good reason, I try to stick to coffee for a first date. No one expects more than an hour from me, and I can graciously escape if I’m ready to be done, but an hour can also easily turn into two or three if things are going well. It’s not expensive, and there’s plenty of time and space to get to know each other without a server dipping in, or the distraction of a movie, a play, or a sporting event.

On a first date, I’m learning that my entire job is to pay attention. I want to get to know the person I’m meeting. Even if I know him already, I don’t know him in this context. But more than that, I want to tune in to how the date makes me feel. Most of the time, I’m nervous until it starts, it’s a sort of stage fright, but if I can’t relax as the date goes on, I want to pay attention to that and honor my intuition. Too many bells and whistles can make it hard to notice when I’m uncomfortable, or when I simply don’t feel a connection, but it can also make it harder to see the sparks when they start to fly.

In the end, when I’m thinking about what to do for a first date, I try to remember that they are supposed to be fun. Both of us hope that we’ve met someone special, but I can’t allow myself to think about forever the first time we spend intentional time together. Instead, I concentrate on the person in front of me, someone who has chosen to be brave along with me. I set aside all of my hopes for a relationship (or do my very best), and keep my mind focused on that person and the present, one moment at a time.