We want to work past that initial awkwardness as soon as humanly possible. We’re not complete strangers – the first meeting should’ve given you a foundation – but now we’re feeling each other out (no pun intended). We’re gently poking, prodding, hoping to discover those similarities and intriguing contrasts. Traditionally, women feint and counter, deftly sidestepping questions that, if answered truthfully and in full, would reveal too much too soon. But men can be excellent defenders as well and of course, if both of you are playing defense, you won’t get anywhere.
You have to ease the tension because it means both parties will be less defensive, plain and simple. Here are 5 tips that will get you past the teeth-grinding tension we all experience in the first five or ten minutes.
#5 — Occupy the sweet spot between touchy-feeling and distant
Some guys believe there’s nothing wrong with touching a woman’s hand, shoulder, or even her leg during the first date. It really depends on the situation – some girls might give you a clear “go” signal earlier than anticipated – but as a general rule of thumb, avoid early and potentially questionable touching. It can send the wrong message and worse, it can add to the already-palpable tension.
At the same time, you don’t want to withdraw entirely. A woman wants to know you’re there, that you’re interested, that you’re paying attention. The guy who seems afraid to take her coat and stands three feet from her at all times is creating an unwanted gulf. First dates and gulfs don’t jive.
#4 — Start with light conversation
There’s an odd dating trend currently circulating that has both parties divulging their life stories in the first half-hour. They’re talking about operations they’ve had, deaths in the family, the first time they had sex, etc. I guess the idea is that you want to be open and learn as much about the other person as possible. Yes, I get it. But you’ve got time for that and trust me, the first hour is not the time to chat about your cousin’s cancer or the fact that your ex is in jail.
As a side note, avoid controversial topics like politics and religion, too, with the caveat that if you’re in agreement, it could help to form a very strong bond faster than expected. If you’re unsure of your partner’s views, save it for the second date.
#3 — You’ve got top-notch conversation skills, right?
This is the time to take advantage. Now’s when you implement all the tact, charm and personality you’ve got in your arsenal. Nothing eases tension better than someone with excellent communication skills, who knows when to listen, when to put in a strong opinion, and when to change the subject, all without skipping a beat. You know a dragging silence is a no-no, you know the world doesn’t actually revolve around your hobbies nor does it revolve around her failed relationships. A good conversation ebbs and flows and you ride the tide, bringing her along with an encouraging smile.
Yeah, such skill is fading (say “thank you, digital revolution”) but men know they have to go well beyond an icebreaker or two.
#2 — Creepy dudes raise red flags
If you ask women about their red flags when dating, many of those flags simply fall into the “creepy” category. You can’t blame females for being cautious in today’s world and there’s a fair amount of sickness floating around out there. Thing is, many girls are so laser-focused on spotting something they might deem “creepy” that guys have to be ever-vigilant. You can’t explain away “creepy.” If you’ve frightened her, even if it was unintentional, it’s pretty much over.
So, don’t be too serious (really intense guys are always bordering on creepy), don’t toss in tasteless jokes or relay bizarre anecdotes only two of your friends have ever understood, and while eye contact is essential, don’t go overboard. There’s nothing more supercharged with emotion than eye contact so use it sparingly.
#1 — Make her laugh
How can something so simple possibly be #1? Well, you do realize that when women are asked what they value most in a man, “sense of humor” is typically near or at the top of the list, right? And by the way, while some women are excellent actresses, in that they can fake physical pleasure with finely honed Broadway skill, there’s one thing they cannot do: They can’t fake mirth. They just can’t. If a man has any EQ at all, he’ll know exactly what a fake or forced laugh sounds like, coming from a female. It’s obvious, isn’t it? If you need a little help, watch her eyes; if they’re not affected, the laugh isn’t real.
Get her laughing and I mean really laughing. It’s by far and away the best tension-breaker on earth because women can only laugh when they’re comfortable. It must be part of their genetic construction. This is good news for you: Get several glorious laughs out of her in that first date and you are guaranteed a second.