In the car, I just can’t wait

If only every “First Date” were like the Blink-182 song.

Bronwyn Miller

These days, classic, easily ascertainable, pick-you-up-at-seven dating sometimes feels like an endangered species. When the result of a “Call Me Maybe” is actually some attempt at courtship, it can feel like a surprise amid the late night texts and Facebook trolling that have become the expected protocol for relationship groundwork.

And since going on a date seems to occur about as often as getting five Chicken McNuggets when you only ordered four, it’s safe to say we might be a bit out of practice. Luckily, I’ve made nearly every dating mistake in the book — or I’ve dated someone who has — so learn from the folly that is my so-called love life.

Slow down, crazy, slow down

Before a first date, don’t prime yourself with his or her Facebook profile, and certainly don’t warm up by brainstorming all possible scenarios for how many kids, sexually transmitted diseases or extra toes the other person has.

Keep that “downfall of human communication” known as texting at a bare minimum, and let the real art of getting to know someone commence with the in-person interactions. Trust your instincts, and remember that you felt enough of a connection with this person to request or accept the date in the first place. Further “preparation” will only instill some preconceived notion about what kind of kisser they are based on their emoji usage or another equally absurd expectation.

Listen like there’s a test later

Nothing makes for a grade-A pantydropper like a good listener. It takes a conscious effort to be a high-quality communicator, and it rarely goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

Ask questions — or, at the very least, reciprocate when the other person inquires about something. A “How about you?” might seem trivial, but forgetting it is a surefire way to look self-absorbed and uncaring. You may not always realize it when the other person is carrying the entire conversation, but they sure will.

Go with the flow

I like my first dates like Andrew Jackson liked his government: laissez-faire. In other words, chill out.

The goal of an initial date is to gauge compatibility — that’s it. Don’t go into it with a prepared list of questions to fire at your potential suitor. It’s not a contract negotiation. Ditch any “tricks” or “dos and don’ts” that you’ve heard about how to win someone over and just go with whatever feels right. Concerted efforts to woo someone shift your focus too heavily to the “game” and will distract you from recognizing if you even want any future with the
person.

It’s the little things

Talking about how our generation sucks at dating is one of today’s hottest topics. Discussions about the “end of courtship” and the newfangled hookup culture of us gosh-darned millennials abound, making a whole heap of people worried that we’ll never produce the white picket fences and 2.1 children of yore.

The good news is that the overblown generalizations and abrupt conclusions of this hyped panic can really work to your advantage. In the face of “dating experts” scorning how no one even cares enough to make the effort of a phone call anymore, be the type of person who calls rather than texts to ask someone on a date.

It’s remarkable how little is required to stand out and score points these days. Embrace it.