“Okay, cool!” I typed. Beth* and I had been chatting on OkCupid for an approximate ten days before we finally decided to meet for drinks on a whim. After we established the time and place we were going to meet that night, that would be our final message to each other on the app. My seeming nonchalance belied my nervous excitement.
I date. I date a lot. And while I’m no expert, if there’s one thing I learnt from dating a lot it is that first impressions matter. I fumbled an awkward handshake and “Nice to meet you” when meeting Beth outside the bar before we seated ourselves.
As we made ourselves at home in the warm, laid-back atmosphere of the bar, we went through the hoops of first date cliches and talked about our various interests — favourite bands, movies, hobbies, etc. We laughed over how we first started talking to each other online over something as silly as whether Batman or Superman would win in a fight, and that we somehow managed to hold a conversation online for over a week since.
Playing Personality True or False
Subsequently, in an effort to get to know each other on a deeper level, we delved into the topic of personality types and astrology. This involved talking and sniggering over the dubious accuracy of banal Thought Catalog articles like The Type Of Person You Will Go For According To Your Myers Brigg Personality Type and Here’s Why You’re Still Single Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type and how they relate to us. Also, given our shared love for pop culture, I pulled up a few Myers-Briggs Type Charts for pop culture characters. It was fun seeing how she was like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter, or how I could be compared to Magneto from the Marvel Universe.
Remembering an interesting website I had stumbled upon a couple of weeks prior, I introduced Beth to Primal Astrology, which claims to combine your Western astrological sign with your Chinese zodiac sign for a more accurate zodiac sign that rings closer to your personality. Now, I’m not a believer of horoscopes and astrology, but reading out the lengthy descriptions of our respective primal zodiacs, it was fascinating to see which traits we found actually resonated with ourselves and which didn’t. It was like playing a game of personality true or false.
First Date Conversation Guide
After several lengthy exchanges, conversation topics seemed to be running out. I took a sip of my drink and mulled over what we could talk about next. Beth, too, must have sensed the brief lull in conversation, and started installing an app on her phone. “Hey, let’s try this,” she said.
The app, First Date Conversation Guide, tells you immediately after you boot it up that it is based on a psychological study that found the kinds of questions that made people fall in love. The app ensures that after its 36 questions, any awkwardness you have between you and your date will be gone. Sure, it seemed interesting. I played along.
Some of the questions were challenging and some felt deeply intimate and personal. The back-and-forth question-and-answer continued long after we left the bar. When all the questions were answered, I felt like I had forged a deeper connection than before with Beth.
Not wanting to be outdone by Beth’s icebreaker, I decided to show her some tricks of my own. As we lepak-ed at a bus stop, I performed a magic trick I had learned off Scam School some years ago. Host Brian Brushwood dubs Scam School “the only show dedicated to social engineering at the bar and on the streets”, as it teaches you fancy tricks and puzzles you can show off in everyday scenarios to dazzle and amaze. Having not practiced the magic trick in any recent time, I goofed on the first attempt, amusing Beth. But successfully pulling it off on the second try thoroughly impressed her.
“I had fun with you today,” said Beth — the magic words everyone wants to hear at the end of a date. Sharing a kiss goodbye, the rare feeling of accomplishment in love swelled inside me.
While the relationship that followed was none too successful, this first date will be something I won’t be forgetting for a long time.
Did you say the right thing? The wrong thing? Is your date just not working out? It’s impossible to tell, perhaps because there’s no way to reduce the joys and frustrations of interacting with a romantic partner to a simple equation.
There is no real template or guidebook to follow to ensure successful “romantic negotiation” on a first date. All you can do is be yourself and hope for the best. But you should never ever be afraid to come out of your shell and be the one to break the ice. Only when you take that first step to overcome the awkwardness and anxiety of appropriately showing off to a potential partner can you start to feel comfortable with someone you want to spend your time with.
*Pseudonym for the sake of anonymity.