Nothing gets the heart pumping quite like the nervous anticipation that goes along with going out on a first date with a guy. Whether it’s a blind date or someone you’re already acquainted with, the first meeting with a dating prospect brings with it a host of emotions, more commonly a mixture of excitement and nervousness.
As the pivotal moment approaches, thoughts can become centered on such questions as: “Will he like me?” “Will I like him?” “Is he going to be The One?” “What if I mess things up and make a fool of myself?” “What will I talk about? What if I run out of things to say?”
Everyone’s experience is different, but the one common denominator that most daters would testify to is that it can be difficult to navigate through the waters of man-to-man dating. Although it’s changing, we gay men have few role models to emulate when it comes to love and romance. There’s no template to follow and we were never taught how to flirt with and date other men. There are no rules, no structure, and no guidance.
How do two men join together in the “courtship dance?” While a lack of rules for gay dating can be a positive thing, lending to more creativity, spontaneity, and individuality, it can also create anxiety and a sense of “cluelessness” in how to meet and date successfully—kind of like a car without a driver.
This article will offer some tips on how to approach your first date with that lucky guy you’ve chosen to get to know in sequence of that date’s occurrence. While these are by no means “rules”, these ideas can offer a means to ground yourself and make the most out of the experience without sabotaging it before it gets off the ground. Pick and choose the ones that seem right for you and create your own principles as a means of being a healthy dater who lives with integrity and follows his own values.
Before the Date:
When setting a time and place for your date, be sure to make it a short meeting (1-2 hours) for the first time and select a place that is either activity-oriented or allows for lots of opportunity to talk. Avoid movies and instead opt for a short get-together at a coffee shop or at the zoo. Making it brief takes a lot of the pressure off, especially if you find the two of you aren’t compatible, and allows for healthy pacing of your dating relationship. You can always extend the date if you’re getting along famously.
Take the emphasis off of it being a date and instead view it as a chance to meet a potential new friend. This can help “take the edge off” and allow you to relax without focusing on the outcome of the date. Avoid placing too many hopes and expectations on the encounter; let it evolve naturally and if a spark ignites during your time together, then that’s an added bonus!
If you’re particularly nervous, take some time to do some relaxation exercises (deep breathing, visualization, etc.) to help soothe yourself and get centered. If you’re worried about what to talk about, generate a list of possible ideas beforehand and role-play with a friend to build confidence. But don’t rely too much on this or you’ll appear stiff and rehearsed. Be cool and be yourself. This isn’t about performance.
Dress comfortably and in clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure you and your date are on the same page about the style of dress for your date. In my own dating days, I showed up for a second date in a nice oxford shirt and jeans to then find my other half dressed to the nines in a French suit not realizing his intentions for the evening. It made for a very embarrassing moment and he cancelled the reservations he’d made for us for dinner at a ritzy, fine-dining establishment. He then changed into more casual clothes and took me to a family restaurant instead. Ouch! His image of me instantly changed and he stopped seeing me after that. He did us both a favor by ending things, but at the time it was quite humiliating. So be clear to avoid any miscommunication.
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com