We have all been on first dates and for those that have not yet gone, your time is coming soon unless you are planning on being single forever.
Most first dates are unpredictable which causes the parties to get nervous or uncertain at some point. However tricky a first date can be, you will need it to figure out if you want to be with this person forever or whether you should cut off whatever connection that existed.
Margaret Tumusiime, a counsellor with Girl Talk Uganda, says a great first date makes it all worth it. To her, the end game is finding someone to marry and spend the rest of your life with, which is probably why you feel so nervous in the first place. However, she advises people to have an open mind while going for a first date.
“Going on a first date with someone is exciting! Preparing for it can take a lot of time, but have you prepared for what happens afterwards as well? A lot of emotional energy is invested in going on a first date. No matter how laid back you are, or how many times you have been on first dates before, it is natural to hope that this will be the last first date you go on if you have found the right match for you,” she says adding that the hope and expectation coupled with the emotional vulnerability that comes whenever you risk rejection means that you should make provisions for after the date too.
Tumusiime adds that when you prepare for the outcome, it ensures that no matter how your date goes, you are not leaving yourself exposed and open to self-sabotage.
Joseph Ssematimba, a counsellor with Good Hope Uganda, says after a date, it is common to analyse the whole thing, looking for signs to gauge if the other person liked you, or if things did not work well. He advises people who go on first dates to consider their feelings towards the other people as well.
“I think the most important questions should be, how do you feel about them? Are they what you are looking for in a partner? Do you think there was a connection between you and them? Did you find them attractive? Sometimes it is so easy to be flattered if someone is obviously keen on you, that you forget to check your own feelings,” he notes.
Joseph Ssematimba, a counsellor with Good Hope Uganda, says men should avoid talking about all their former girlfriends. He says you should not leave your date wondering if any woman could ever please you. “For example, if you have been serially cheated on or involved with negative partners, you are unconsciously introducing negativity to a happy and casual first date experience,” says Ssematimba.
Margaret Tumusiime, a counsellor with Girl Talk Uganda, says it is wise that women keep the drinking minimal. “There is nothing wrong with a wine or a whiskey, but keep the drinking low. Do not overindulge because you are nervous or having a good time, everything could go from relaxed and care free to yelling,” she says.
Dos and don’ts on your first date
At Speak up
Nobody likes a pushover, so if your date tells you he or she has planned an evening at a place you do not want to go to, speak up. Same goes for being decisive. If your date asks what you would like to eat, drink, or share for dessert, do not say “I do not care, what do you want?” Nobody wants to date someone who cannot make such a simple decision.
Wear comfortable clothes
Obviously, you want to look your best, but a first date is not the time to take those new stilettos out for a road test, or wear that dress that’s a little too tight. Why? Because first dates are anxiety-filled enough and being uncomfortable in your clothes only makes it worse.
Be on time
Yeah, we know the whole “fashionably late” ideology still exists, but on a first date, you will make a better impression if you show up on time. Would you want them to show up late? Probably not.
Do not drink too much
Having to be carried home by someone you barely know is not fun (nor is slurring your words or crying at the dinner table). Sure, a cocktail or two can be fun and loosen the mood, but know your limits.
Do not obsess over appearance
Who wants to waste precious date time running to bathroom to brush your hair, reapply your lipstick, or check the mirror every half hour? Put as much effort into your appearance as you want before you meet your date, but focus your energy on making solid conversation instead of worrying about how you look.
Put your phone away
The act of obsessively checking your phone every two minutes could be a deal breaker. There is nothing ruder than trying to have a conversation with a person who is constantly staring at a screen. Also, do not post any status updates, tweets about your date in real-time, or snap any candid pictures when your date is not looking. That is just weird.
A foolproof way to ensure that conversation will always be flowing is to simply ask questions. Keep them around work, family and hobbies, among others until you both feel comfortable enough to tackle the big stuff such as politics, religion, and former relationships.
Offer to pay
A tactful way to do this is to simply reach for the bill when it comes. If your date insists, offer to split the bill, or at least leave the tip. However, if you offer to pay or split, be prepared to actually pay or split.
No matter how bad your day has been, or whether the restaurant you are at has terrible service, or the movie you saw is total crap—try your best to stay positive when getting to know someone. It will alleviate any anxiety they are having about whether they are showing you a good time, and it will just make you more fun to be around, pure and simple.
How was your first date?
“I had very little money on me so I figured out that the only cheap place I could afford was Makerere University swimming pool. We only used Shs1,000 to enter. I did not know how to swim but she was impressed.”
Deogracious Male (Tinta)
“I had my first date at 18. I was caught up in a maze of emotions with this beautiful girl in the neighbourhood. I remember going to the gift shop and buying a plastic rose, an apple and chocolate and then asked her to meet me in some church gardens. I was so shy but loved her so much.”
“I went for my first date while I was still a teenager. I remember wearing my beautiful gown that I had put on for my leavers party. My date took me at Hotel Equatorial and it was my first time being in such a luxurious place. I did not know how to use this sophisticated cutlery and I sweated plasma, but it was a nice experience.”