A Bit Of Awkwardness On A First Date Is A Good Thing — Here’s Why

Have you ever been on a first date that’s full of so much awkwardness that you just wanted a hole to open in the ground and swallow you up? It’s the worst. And when it happens, you’re not really inclined to go out with the person again. However, maybe you’re jumping the gun here. It’s possible that a little awkwardness is a good thing at first. Here’s why you shouldn’t write this person off right away.

It’s normal for things to be awkward on the first date.

Generally speaking, you’re never going to go on a first date and NOT have it be at least slightly awkward. That’s true no matter how much chemistry you have and how much you have in common. Here are just a few of the reasons this happens.

  1. You don’t know each other. Even if you chatted online for weeks before meeting up, you don’t actually know each other. There’s a major difference between how someone texts and how they behave in real life. That takes some adjusting to, and in the meantime, things are likely to be a bit awkward. It happens, but it’s no big deal. Roll with it and it’ll be over soon enough.
  2. You’re both probably nervous. If you think there might be potential there (or you’re hoping there is), this is likely true. Nervousness makes people act a bit weird sometimes. It’s not a reflection of your (or their) true self. Plus, it tends to pass as you get more comfortable with each other. It’s worth offering yourselves a bit of grace and pushing through.
  3. You haven’t dated in a while. If you’ve been in a bit of a dating dry spell lately, it’s going to be awkward. Duh! It’s strange how quickly we forget how to act in (possibly) romantic settings when we haven’t done it for a bit. Thankfully, it tends to be like riding a bike. Once you get back into the swing of things, you’ll be fine.
  4. You don’t know what their intentions are. You know what you want out of the date and out of dating in general. However, maybe you’re not sure where they stand. That can be anxiety-inducing and a bit awkward. You don’t want to come out and ask them right away, but you don’t know how else to find out. Yikes!
  5. You (or they) are naturally shy. This is a distinct possibility. Not everyone is super outgoing and confident. Some people are more reserved, and that’s okay. However, if you’re an introvert and your date is an extrovert (or vice versa), that might cause a bit of awkwardness on the first date. It doesn’t mean things can’t work out between you, though!
  6. You don’t have any chemistry with each other. Granted, this one isn’t good and doesn’t bode well for a second date or more. However, while it’s a possibility, you shouldn’t automatically assume this is the reason behind the awkwardness on your first date. Look for other clues to see if maybe you’re prejudging things unfairly.

Why first date awkwardness can actually be a good thing

  1. It shows you both care about making a good impression. If you didn’t care, there wouldn’t be any awkwardness. When you don’t give a damn about something, it has no power over you. You’re completely indifferent because you don’t have a horse in the race, so to speak. Therefore, if things are a bit awkward between you, it’s because you clearly want the other person to think good things about you.
  2. It’s a sign that you like them/they like you. Again, if you didn’t, why would you be bothered? Things wouldn’t be awkward because you’re not into them. That means you wouldn’t be bothered if there were hiccups in the conversation. A bit of first date awkwardness exists because you like them (or at least think you do) and vice versa. Aww, cute!
  3. It’s actually super endearing. It’s kind of adorable to see a date get flustered over you. It’s flattering and actually really sweet because of the reasons listed above. In many ways, it makes you like them that little bit more to see how much they care.
  4. It gives you something to bond over. If neither of you takes yourself too seriously, your mutual awkwardness can be something you laugh over. Humans are weird AF and it’s kinda hilarious how up in arms we get over little things. That can then release stress and bond you more. Win-win!
  5. It proves you’re both taking things seriously. Again, it wouldn’t be awkward if you didn’t care how the date turned out. You’re both stressing because you want to find love and you’re hoping that it’s with each other. If that’s not a green flag, I don’t know what is.

How to keep things from being too awkward

So we’ve covered that awkwardness on a first date isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. However, you don’t want to be totally uncomfortable all night. As it turns out, there are a few things you can do to keep the awkwardness to a minimum during that first meeting.

  1. Choose a low-key location. Nothing puts the pressure on like choosing a first date location that’s uptight and overly proper. Skip the high-end restaurant or fancy wine bar if that’s not your vibe. Instead, pick someplace that’s low-key and a bit more casual. This gives you more time to chat in a more laid-back environment. That’s what you want!
  2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you got your hopes up about this person before heading out for the date, it’s natural that you might be a little stiff. After all, you want things to go well — maybe a little too much! Take a deep breath and realize that it’s really not that deep. Show your relaxed, funny side and don’t worry about being anything other than your authentic self. That should be more than enough.
  3. Show interest if it’s there. If you really like the person you’re on a date with, let them know by showing interest. Ask them more about things they say that piqued your curiosity. This alone can put the other person at ease and start you down a new conversational path.
  4. Keep the conversation light. It’s tempting to want to weed out the douchebags by going into your date by asking about their views on politics, religion, feminism, etc. Obviously, these things are incredibly important and you don’t want to waste your time with someone who doesn’t gel with your values and beliefs. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid too much awkwardness on your first date at least, leave these topics alone.
  5. Remember you’re there to have fun. It’s a date! It’s not a prison sentence. There’s nothing to fear or dread about it. If things work out, you’re in luck. If they don’t, it’s really not the end of the world. Just enjoy it!
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill