Nothing gets the heart pumping quite like the nervous anticipation that goes along with going out on a first date with a guy.
[ CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY ]
During the Date: Be attentive to your date. Show respect by maintaining good eye contact and don’t let those eyes stray if there are other attractive men in the room. Have an open posture and let your nonverbal communication and body language convey interest in learning about your date.
Stay out of your own head and shut off those distracting thoughts; really listen to what he’s saying. Balance active listening with sharing things about yourself. Ask open-ended questions to gain more elaboration on points made in your discussion to stretch out conversations and learn more about your date. This is especially effective if you’re feeling shy or are short on things to say because it gets the other person talking more, allowing for more tidbits that you can start other dialogs about. Be positive and let your sense of humor shine through.
Avoid controversial topics of discussion as these may be offensive to your date. You can ease into these the more you get to know him. Avoid alcohol, as this may alter your behavior, and stay away from sexual content and innuendo. Unless sex is the motivation for your date, introducing sexual talk into your first date can set the tone in an inappropriate direction. Discussions about sex and sexual preferences can come later after you’ve been able to establish more of a genuine, mature connection. Questions like “Are you a top or a bottom?” may appear crass at a first meeting and may cause an unfavorable impression of you to form in your date’s mind.
After the Date:
Whether your date was a smash hit or a disaster, exercise good manners and thank your new acquaintance for the date. If you’d like to see him again, state this and call him in a day or so to ask him out again. Don’t get caught up in the whole dating game of “How many days should I hold off to call him to avoid looking desperate?” or “I’m going to let him be the one to call me.” If you like him, take charge of your life and make that call.
If you didn’t feel a “love connection” with the guy, thank him for the date and kindly and tactfully tell him that it’s not a match. While this may be extremely difficult, it’s always best to be honest and direct in a gentle, polite way. If you’d like to try to develop a friendship instead, suggest that. But be honest and direct and don’t tell him you’ll call him again if you really have no intention of doing so. That’s cruel.
Do some de-briefing after your date and reflect on your conduct, as well as your date’s, and perhaps journal about the experience. How did you feel? How did you manage yourself during the date? What would you have changed? What went well? What did you learn about yourself as a result of this date? How would you rate the date and the guy you met? From what you can tell so far, is there compatibility with your personal requirements and vision for a life partner? Is he matching up thus far with your needs, wants, goals, and values?
Dating can be a nerve-wracking, daunting task, particularly with the absence of dating education available to us as gay men. What traditions and roles that our heterosexual counterparts have for dating are applicable for us, if any? What are we supposed to do?
The key is to have fun with dating and take a light approach. Dating is both an art and a science in my belief, combining common sense decision-making with self-awareness of what one wants and needs for a happy and fulfilling lifestyle.
When your dating behavior is in alignment with your values and vision for a relationship, you’ll be living with integrity and will be able to approach all your dates with a more relaxed tone and confident demeanor. It will make the process much more easy-going and rewarding. Cheers to your dating success!
© 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