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Dating

First date check list

FIRST DATEWhatever your age, you should be feeling excited, if a little nervous, but this is good and healthy. This is particularly true for guys who have not been dating for while, or are new to the whole dating thing.

Most likely, there will be a ton of stuff buzzing in your head like:

  • Will you like each other?
  • Is he the one?
  • Will there be a connection and chemistry?
  • Will we have anything to talk about?
  • Will I say the right thing or embarrass myself?
  • Is my breath stinky?

The only way you’ll find out is by going (!) so here are some tips to get you there.

The venue and doing stuff

Keep a first date short-ish and simple so if it’s not a good fit it doesn’t become a marathon. At MEN R US, we really like the idea of actually doing something on a date like a cheap gig, a gallery, a market, bowling; you can try a spa day but you may be pushing it! If you like each other, you can extend it, or plan a longer one next time.

Pick a place where you can talk and hear each other. A drink in a quiet café or a quick supper or lunch can be nice... but it can be intense. Think about getting out, active and having fun!

Check out transport to and from the venue, and getting home afterwards.

Alternatively, ignore the above and make your own rules.

“After the date from hell we had to wait on the same platform. Felt so awkward - jumped on the first train south. Took me ages to home. House mates thought it had gone well cos I didn’t get back ’til late. Had to tell them the whole story and ended up laughing like crazy.” Adam | 23 May 2015

Appearance

Your appearance should matter to you. Jeans and T-shirt worn well can make just as good an impression as a suit and tie. Be comfortable and be you.

Manners

Old fashioned perhaps but 'manners maketh the man' or 'don’t be more of an arsehole than you naturally are'. Whether you are attracted to him or not, treat him as you would like to be treated yourself, and be courteous to waiting and bar staff.

Be on time

Turn up on time or let him know if you are going to be late, for any reason.

Mobile phones

Turn your mobile phone OFF during the whole date, or put it on silent if you are expecting an urgent call.

Baggage

We all have a past and life experiences that influence who we are and how we behave towards ourselves and others. Examples can include a line of ex-boyfriends (which didn’t end well), difficulty connecting with men, and/ or a history of drug use. However, it is also said that we are what we are, the sum of these and other parts, and ‘baggage’ is life’s rich tapestry conveniently labelled for the 21st century.

Whatever we call it, managing it in some way often helps us in ourselves and the relationships we make. This could mean some introspection, a self-help book, a damn good cry, a heart to heart with a friend, counselling, or at the very least acknowledgement that you/ we all have baggage which, with some effort, can – to a greater or lesser extent - be sorted, put to rest and stored away.

The important thing is we don’t bring this stuff to a date, and certainly not a first date. So, you don’t bang on about your last failed relationship, or a traumatic coming out, or a struggle with alcohol. Equally, it would be wrong to present yourself as squeaky clean (unless you are) and sometimes these moments shared at the right moment are very important.

It’s said there’s a time and a place for everything and there's a knack of being true to yourself without frightening the horses (the horse, in this case, being your date). Too much emotional baggage, too soon, is never attractive and if things start to get serious you’ll have plenty of time to share your past, hang-ups, regrets and mistakes – as will he.

Be true

A guy should like you for who you are, so let him see the real you. The key is not to over analyse, relax, and be yourself. Dating is not a time to try being what you think your date would like you to be. Attempts to exaggerate, impress, dress up the truth or lie will likely end in tears.

Regardless of whether you hit it off romantically it would be good if you could both say that you had a good time. Whether you see him again or not, he should feel better off for having spent some time with you.

This also means not lying or giving false hope, leading someone to believe you are keen to seen them again when, in fact, you have no intention of doing so.

Snap judgements

Many of us make up our minds as to whether we like someone in the first few seconds or minutes of meeting. But first impressions can be very misleading. You will risk missing out if you judge too quickly or are too fussy or rigid about what you are looking for in a potential partner.

Try not to rule people out straight away. Instead, spend some time getting to know them; it’s what the date is for! If you’re not sure about someone, it may take a few dates before you can really decide.

Rushing in

Being attracted to someone is a great feeling but this is often a ways away from something more substantial. Sex on the first date (particularly if it’s mind blowing) can connect you in complex ways which can then blind your compatibility issues. Don’t underestimate this as they will invariably reveal themselves over time, sometimes destructively. Guys wake up a month or so later to realise they actually don’t like the man and have nothing in common.

So, take time to get to know a guy before getting too emotionally or physically involved. It helps if you can establish that there’s more to the relationship than just chemistry before ripping off each other’s clothes.

Ending it

As a date or dates unfold, we process compatibility and whether there’s a connection, common ground  – and whether we actually like the guy! Sometimes we conclude he’s not the one. The important thing is that you end things as decently as you can.

Being honest and saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to him face to face says a lot about who you are as an an adult gay man. Sometimes things just don’t end well, but always try to tell him calmly, however difficult this may be. In time he may become a friend, or be a friend of your next boyfriend, and you never know when you might see him again.

And you get no points for ending it by text or phone!

“Went out with Marco a few times but it didn’t work out. Got really messy when I told him because he said I’d been giving him all the signals. I probably was but couldn’t be honest with him. I’ve been with James a year now but a couple of months in I met his best friend: Marco. Very awkward for a while but then we had the conversation we should have had when I broke up with him. My bad.” Andrew | 1 Feb 2015

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