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You are in college. Have you ever been on a date?

While some of you may be scoffing at the idea of never going on a date before or during college, there is a huge percentage of students who have never experienced the typical dating scene.

No, I am not talking about a guy offering you a beer at a party and the two of you go upstairs to make-out. I am also not talking about the time you took that girl back to your dorm and then brought her to the cafeteria the next morning.

First Date

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I’m talking about a real date; you ask someone out to dinner, drinks, a movie, or someone has asked you. You attend the date, have real conversations, enjoy a meal or entertainment, and maybe seal the night with a kiss.

The problem is, unless you are dating someone in college, many times the art of romance and dating can be somewhat lost amongst the empty kegs and beer-filled parties that often lead to hooking up and therefore skipping the whole idea of courtship and dating.

So if you’ve never been on a date and you’re stressing out now that you’ve been asked to go on one (or plan on asking someone else), here is a run-down of what you can expect on your first date and how to play it off like you’re a pro.

Before the Date:

Now that you have been asked out (or you asked someone else), it’s time to freak out, right?

WRONG. Dating is easy and should be fun! You don’t need to freak out over every detail or plan out the conversation you are going to have with someone in order to avoid an awkward silence. Just take it one step at a time and relax.

Get in contact with the person to double-check on the time of the date, when/where you will be meeting, ask about proper clothing, and assure the person that you are looking forward to it. You don’t need to go crazy, but something as simple as saying you have been craving x-type of food all week is just the thing to say in order to wet the person’s appetite (pun intended).

Plan what you will wear, what you are bringing on the date, take out money if necessary, and do all of the things you need to do beforehand so you will feel relaxed and less anxious when it’s time to head out the door.

The Actual Date:

Once you two finally meet (or arrive together) for your date, it’s time to sit down and have a conversation.

Time to Talk

If you are at dinner, you will order food and drinks, but once the waiter is gone, you are going to have to open your mouth and make some noise (I know this can be scary for some of you).

Talking to someone you like can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. While some may need a margarita or two to loosen up before being able to handle a conversation with a stranger, acquaintance or someone you already like, keep in mind that you don’t need alcohol to have a good date.

Conversation

Ask your date about themselves. The more questions you throw at the person, the more he/she will continue to talk and you can sit back and listen. Chances are, your date will ask you back the same or different questions so you can be confident that the conversation will be lull-less.

Awkward/No Conversation

If there happens to be an awkward silence (and there may be), don’t freak out about it and blurt something out just to fill the silence. If you really can’t stand it, take a sip of water, and excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. This will give both of you a chance to breathe and recuperate while you think of things to talk about.

It is rude to pull out your cell phone and start texting. I know it is a nervous habit for many of you to do this when you have nothing else to talk about or say, but try to avoid doing.  Otherwise you will appear uninterested and kind of rude.

Eating/Drinking

If you are paranoid about making a good first impression, don’t order a rack of BBQ ribs and suck on the bones in front of your date. Order something that you can eat with a fork and knife and isn’t a huge mess. I am not telling you to order something you don’t want, just avoid something that will not allow you to put your best self-forward.

Order as many drinks as your date orders. You do not want to get wasted on the first date and act like an idiot or say something regretful. I can understand the temptation to get sloshed on your date so you will feel more relaxed, but keep a steady buzz (or nobuzz at all) instead; both you and your date will have a better time if YOU are on the date and not your party animal alter-ego.

Paying the Check

This is up to you. If you are one of those people who thinks the guy should always pay, let him do it (or if you are the guy, whip out your wallet). If you don’t feel comfortable being treated to a meal (or treating), offer to split the bill and see what happens.

After the Date:

Don’t stress about this part either. Remember that a date is not a party or a hookup; you do not owe the person anything once the date is done. You don’t have to go back to his/her place and you don’t have to offer a kiss either.

Do what makes you feel comfortable. If you had a great time on the date, go for a kiss or let him/her kiss you first. I would never advise treating your date to a sack-session afterwards; there is plenty of time to hookup and this is only your first date.

Let your date be what it was meant to be: a time to meet, talk, and get to know one another, not have sex.

If you had a horrible time and you can’t wait to get outta there, do not give your date hope and offer/accept a kiss. If your date leans in, go for the cheek, say thank you, and leave it at that.

If your date tries to talk to you after the awkward cheek peck, simply explain that you are thankful for the dinner (or whatever), but you are not interested in going out again. If you don’t feel comfortable saying this, tell him/her you are simply too busy every time the subject comes up; hopefully your message will be clear.

Dating doesn’t have to be scary. Even if you have never been on a date, everyone must do it at one point or another in their life. Once you get past your first date, any subsequent dates you go on will seem like a piece of cake!

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