Ah, the beauty of that inevitably awkward date moment: hands in pockets, hair in eyes, tense smile on lips. We’ve all landed short of the Rico Suave mark, all fallen on our faces (sometimes literally), all stammered our words more than once. But is the awkward moment really inevitable? Here are a few pointers on how to keep those uncomfortable moments at bay.
o Breathe – first things first. In the immortal words of Mase, “Breathe, stretch, shake, let it go.” Nervous jitters and butterflies in the stomach happen to the best of us. They can either be half the fun or half the torture of a date. Before you go out, try talking to one of your close friends. It usually helps to pour out those nerves to someone who knows the true workings of your inner dork.
o Relax – you’re not as ridiculous as you sound. That guy/girl that captured your attention isn’t nearly as flawless as you think. It’s easy to pile up expectations, especially when admiring someone from afar. Enjoy the time to get to know the person. Just relax and treat him/her like a normal person, for Pete’s sake. Make it a point to spend part of your time together in a conversation-stimulating place – a park, a hiking trail, a coffee shop, a beach, whatever suits you best.
o Stop planning – take it one date at a time. From a girl’s perspective, this can be really difficult. Keep your forward thinking mind in check and relish the moment. That way, your perspective and potential pressure are both kept in check. Avoid excessive gabbing to friends beforehand and avoid usage of the words “next time” and “what if.”
o Hang out – nothing says “I’m laid-back, awesome and cool” like sitting around with a bunch of friends. Not only does it ease the awkward factor, but it gives you a chance to see what the other person’s like around everyone else too. Plus, your friends (and his/her friends) get a chance to offer you their thoughts on your date; sometimes an outside opinion is a much-needed confirmation. Give a board game a try – Trivial Pursuit’s an awesome way to laugh about exactly how much you don’t know.
o Dress comfortably – wear your favorite t-shirt/jeans/skirt/flip-flops. The last thing you want is to miss something significant because you were too busy untucking your shirt or adjusting the strap on your heels. At least you won’t be fidgeting with your clothes and second-guessing yourself about the ridiculous outfit you let your best friend talk you into (a la Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed).
o Laugh – okay, so when the awkward/embarrassing moments do roll around (who are we kidding? They’re so gonna happen), do yourself a favor and just laugh at yourself. There’s nothing like being refreshingly honest with yourself and admitting when you look, act and sound way less than perfect.
My friends, the raging fight against awkwardness is a relentless one. We may not see victory in the near future, but we may as well continue in battle, arms linked, standing as a united anti-awkwardness army.