First dates will forever be kind of awkward — there’s just no way around it. You’re in that weird stage where you know you kind of like someone but you’re not positive they’re someone you want to get serious with. Enter: the first date. On the one hand, you really want them to like you back so you’re trying really hard to be the best version of yourself but on the other hand, you’re trying to get to know them on a level that’ll help you decide if you want a second date. And they’re doing the exact same thing. That’s like, the dictionary definition of “awkward” IMO.

But it doesn’t really have to be that way. When you’re so worried about the date going smoothly, you can’t get to know them very well and it’s harder for them to get a solid read on you. Knowing how to make your first date NOT awkward AF can help you relax and decide if they’re right for you. You can also avoid self-sabotaging something great if you know how to avoid awkwardness. Here’s are 17 tips to making sure your first date won’t suck — so you have the best chance at finding a solid connection.

1. Relax

First of all, just take a breather. This is the first date. It’s not the end of the world if you mess up a little bit. Take a deep breath and remember two things. One: they’re clearly already attracted to you/your personality, considering they’re willing to go on a first date with you and all. Two: if it’s literally the worst night ever, plenty of fish in the sea and at least this was good practice.

2. Get to Know Them Beforehand

If it’ll make you feel better, get to know as much as you can about them beforehand. Chances are, you have their number. Nowadays, it would be odd if you didn’t text someone prior to a first date. Talk about things that are important to you and get a little flirty. Being able to act like yourself via texting will help you relax a little more when you’re in person.

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3. Wear Something That’s Comfortable

Worrying about how itchy your bra is or how much sweat is showing through your tight shirt will make your date a lot more awkward. You’llbe uncomfortable and it’ll show. Instead of wearing something because it looks good, wear something that’s pleasing to the eye that also feels good. When you’re comfortable, you’re more confident. That confidence will help you to relax and make your first date not awkward AF.

4. Decide Ahead of Time How You’d Like to Leave

A first date usually goes one of two ways; it goes really well and you leave wanting some action or it was a little awkward and you can’t decide whether or not you should go for that kiss. To make things easier and to avoid that super awkward moment at the end of a date, decide how you’re going to leave before you even get there. Usually, deciding to leave with a friendly hug will work best in all scenarios. Stay firm, give them the hug and, if all went well, make a plan for another date where a kiss would be more appropriate and you’d be more comfortable.

5. Keep the Date Casual

If you’re into really fancy dinners, that’s great. However, going to a really nice restaurant and having to dress up super fancy doesn’t make for the smoothest date. Instead, keep the date casual. Go out for a couple of burgers so you can wear something more casual and comfortable. Both of you won’t feel so much pressure meaning less awkwardness, too.

6. Do Something Active

Being active is a lot more fun than sitting at a dinner table forcing out awkward conversation. Not only does a little friendly competition add some flirty tension to the date but being able to focus on something else can make you stop overthinking the whole day. Go play some laser tag or mini golf and place a wager. Loser pays for ice cream!

7. Don’t Go Anywhere too Loud

While you do want to go somewhere fun and potentially do something active, you also want to make sure you’re not going anywhere super loud. Having to lean in just to hear what they say and still needing to ask, “what?” over and over again makes things awkward AF. Concerts are fun but they’re better for a second or third date. The first date should be about talking, getting to know one another and connecting, which is really hard to do when you can’t hear a damn thing they’re saying.

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8. Don’t Talk About Past Relationships

This is a huge no-no and I’m sure you’ve heard it many, many times before. For some reason, people still do this. If you want to make your date not awkward as all hell, don’t talk about any exes. If they’re the ones who ask you, just politely answer the specific question and move on. Nobody wants to hear about all the other people you’ve dated when they’re on a very first date. It makes for some awkward tension.

9. Don’t Talk About Sex

You may be hella comfortable talking about all things sex but you have no idea if your date does. They could be a little uncomfortable with it and it’ll make things awkward if they are… especially on night one. Plus, it may make it look like sex is the only thing you’re trying to get out of the night which if you’re not, can be a tough miscommunication to clarify in a not awkward way.

10. Don’t Talk About Drama in Your Life

We’ve all got some sh*t going on. That doesn’t mean that the other person needs to hear about it right away. Only hearing about all the drama in your life might be a huge turn-off and more importantly, they probably really don’t care about the fight you’re in with your BFF because she made out with your other BFF’s ex-boyfriend. It’s juicy gossip and all, but not if you don’t know who the eff anyone in the story is.

11. Leave Controversial Topics Out of Discussion

Even though you can learn a lot about someone by how they see a very controversial topic, it’s never a good idea to talk about something like that on the first date. If you two don’t see eye to eye, it’ll cause tension — and not the good kind. Avoid talking about any controversial stuff in the media if you want to make your first date not awkward. That said, if you’re passionate about something like women’s rights of LGBTQ+ issues, sometimes it’s best to rule out someone early… even if it means making the date a little awkward.

12. Go Dutch

You never really know how someone is going to feel about paying for the date. Society tells us that the men are “supposed” to pay but that’s not really the case so much anymore. In order to make things much less awkward and to avoid feeling guilty if they’re the ones paying, offer to split the bill. It puts you both at ease and it also puts you on an even playing field. If they insist on paying, thank them and let it be.

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13. Don’t Drink Excessively

Getting drunk on the very first date will make things beyond awkward. You may want a drink or two to soothe the nerves, but you should never drink excessively. It might make you feel invincible during the date but you’ll wake up and realize you made a fool of yourself. So perhaps the date itself won’t feel awkward in the moment but everything after could definitely be beyond repair.

14. No Gossiping

Gossiping just makes you look bad. Talking crap about other people doesn’t exactly leave a great impression. Your date will most likely start to judge you and they’ll feel really weird about talking negatively about people they’ve never met. Just avoid this if you want to make your first date not awkward.

15. Be Yourself

Yeah, yeah, I realize this is a little cheesy but it’s also very, very true. You’re on the date so you can get to know each other and determine if the other person works well with you. How are you going to be able to do that if you’re not yourself? Better yet, it’s easier to just be yourself than to try and act like someone else. I know you really want them to like you but why would you want them to like you if you’re not being yourself? It’s also pretty obvious when someone is just playing a part and when they pick up on that, sh*t will get awkward really fast.

16. Just Have Fun

Focus on having fun. Stop overthinking about whether or not they like you and just have some fun. People like those who are having fun way more than someone who’s a nervous wreck. Plus, when you’re having a good time and laughing and joking, it eases the awkward tension.

17. Don’t Set High Expectations

If you think your first date will be the most romantic thing in the world, you’ll be very, very disappointed no matter what. Plus, you’ll spend the whole night in your own head trying to decipher if everything is living up to expectations you set. You’ll only set yourself up for failure if you have really high expectations. So keep them low and you’ll be impressed and pleased at every turn, which will ease the awkwardness immensely.

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