First Dates: The Awkward Moments and How to Navigate Them

Raise your hand and say “I” if you’ve ever experienced an awkward moment on a first date? Guarantee, you just put up your hand, or at least cringed with the thought of your last groan inducing date moment. But that’s the beauty of first dates isn’t it? Both parties are excited, nervous and perhaps a little awkward. These are all the natural feels; don’t sweat it if you run into one or even two of these hiccups along the way. Remember, you’re only human!

Here is my list of some of the most awkward moments you may have, or have yet to experience in your dating life. Behold…

The Handshake, Hug or Wave

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How does one greet a date these days? Whatever you’re comfortable with is always the best way to go; however, I would avoid the wave when you’re standing directly in front of one another, like our friend Steve is kindly demonstrating above. Sometimes it’s good to base your approach on the amount of time you’ve chatted prior to meeting. If you feel a really great connection via text/app conversation, perhaps you’re more inclined to go in for the hug! A handshake can come off a touch formal, but you can usually read someone’s body language as you’re making your way toward them. If they’re holding out both their arms, I think the obvious guess here, is that they’re going in for the hug.

The Dreaded Silence

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Conversation is flowing like magic and then the light unexpectedly just switches off. You’re excited to be on a date, but you’re also nervous and have so much to say, you don’t know where to take the conversation next. Cue the crickets! (chirp chirp). You are not alone; the majority of singles (70%) have experienced awkward silences on a typical first date, according to the POF study Conversation Nation 2018.  And what do the majority of singles do in this situation? 44% change the subject, 32% talk to fill the silence and 15% remain silent, yikes.

Here’s a tip: Why not address the silence by admitting you’re a little nervous. Nerves are natural when meeting someone for the first time, and this will most likely come off as an endearing admission. If your date is understanding, they may even admit to being nervous as well, which should nicely break the ice.

The Eye Contact

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Eye contact is important on every date; when your eyes wander around the room at others, it immediately gives your date the impression you’re disinterested. Or, perhaps your eyes keep looking down at your phone – a big no no. Put the phone away. Hold eye contact with your date, but also remember to blink (this is important). There is a big difference between intensely starring at someone, and intently engaging and reacting to a story through eye contact. Practice the latter.

The Spinach in Teeth

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Just tell them! This is a unique situation; some people feel embarrassed to tell someone they have food in their teeth, but how silly would you feel if you got home from a date only to look in the mirror and see a head of broccoli between your teeth. If your date has crumbs on their face, or any food in their teeth, give them a polite heads up. They will thank you for it.

The Bathroom Mishap

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You’ve just indulged in a wonderful meal with your date, but it’s not sitting very well in your stomach…the meat sweats aren’t forgiving and you’re about ready to make a run for the nearest exit or toilet. If you ever find yourself in this particular dire situation, honesty is the best policy, especially if you want to see this person again. Explain with sincerity you’ve had a wonderful evening, but you’re not feeling well and actually have to go home. Let them know you do want to see them again and send them a text the following day to avoid them thinking it was your sad attempt at blowing them off.

The Obvious ‘Phone a Friend’

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Within the first 15 minutes you decide to pick up that “call from work” in front of your date and tell them you have to jet out. This escape is a touch too obvious for a situation like this. If you’re immediately disinterested in the person sitting across from you, remember you don’t need to go on date #2, but you have both committed to at least getting to know one another before pulling shoot.

The Bill

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To split or not to split? – that is the question…the server will ask you after your meal. Never assume the bill will be covered by your date, and always carry cash on you. If your date offers to pay, you can kindly take them up on it, you can offer to pay half, or offer to cover the full bill yourself. Again, this is what’s preferable for you as an individual! Just be prepared and hit the bank prior to a first date.

The Minor Trip

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You stare into their dreamy eyes and say your goodbyes as the date comes to an end. Walking away feeling fabulous, you turn back and catch your dates gaze. As you both bashfully smile at each other one last time, you biff it on the sidewalk curb and take a minor tumble. OH the embarrassment! Don’t worry, your date will most likely run to your aid and if they don’t, consider it a red flag.


Kate Maclean

Posted by Kate Maclean

Kate is the PR Generalist at PlentyOfFish. Like a kid in a candy shop, Kate’s favorite things to do are eat mass amounts of sushi, spoon her cat Snoop Dogg, and hike the great Canadian wilderness. Her favorite quote of all time is “People who love to eat are the best people” -Julia Child.

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