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How to Handle the Awkwardness of Meeting a Tinder Date

If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps, you’re familiar with the painfully uncomfortable ritual of meeting your date for the first time. First dates are awkward all by themselves, so with the added element of meeting for the first time, it's nearly unbearable. Yet, we do it anyway for that slight chance of meeting someone special, because we refuse to give up on love and we’re tired of Netflixing alone.

You’re expected to carry on as if it’s a normal date, but in reality you’re sitting with a stranger who’s probably wondering what you look like naked, all while plotting the quickest way to get you to that point. While there are some bold women who are thinking the exact same thing, others are analyzing their appearance, their personality, their likelihood for success, wondering if their date could be relationship material. Even if you’ve never tried it, I’m sure you could imagine the sheer awkwardness of it all, and that’s likely the reason you’ve never tried it. 

Well, for those of you who are willing to give it go, despite that uncomfortable, awkward first meeting, here are some tips to get you through the date:

  1. Safety First! Always Meet in Public

Have you not learned anything from Dateline or 20/20?! It’s true, most people seem to be trustworthy, but you never know, you could be dealing with a Ted Bundy, attractive but also a murderer. If you ask me, it’s not worth it. It’s better to be safe than… let’s all say it together… sorry.

2. Plan a Day Date

A day date is both safe (the importance of which is  stated above) and practical! It’s so much easier to slip away during the day because it’s universally understandable that we all have places to be, errands to run, and chores to accomplish. Just don’t make the mistake of declaring that you have nothing to do for the rest of the day, because guess who is going to want to hang out with you all day… and if you’re anything like me (an introvert who cherishes her alone time) that would be a living nightmare.

3. You Don’t Have To Start With “Nice to Meet You”

It’s basically instinctual to say “nice to meet you” when meeting a stranger for the first time; however, when you say it to your Tinder date it seems to shine a light on the weirdness of the situation. It’ll end up making you both feel a little embarrassed as you’re announcing the fact that you met on a dating app to everyone around you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or that other people will care, it just tends to add to the discomfort. Anyway, you’ve technically already met through the app so there really isn’t a need to introduce yourself at all. You can just start with a simple: “Hey. How are you?”.

4. Keep it Short

There is no reason you should feel obligated to hang out for over an hour. Hell, if you feel like leaving after 15 minutes, leave. I would suggest giving the date at least one solid hour, not too long, but not too short. Just enough time to feel each other out and decide whether you’d like to see each other again. Leave too soon, and you’ve hardly given it a chance, you might as well have just stayed home. Leave too late, and you may begin to over-analyze.

5. Have a Plan with a Friend

First of all, make sure a friend knows what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’ll be with. Safety people! Next, create the good ol’ classic emergency-call-plan, just in case things turn out to be terrible. Create a safe word (or emoji!) to initiate the call. Then, act it out, pretend something insane is happening that requires you immediate presence! “Oh my god, he did what? He ran over your foot with a tractor and a rock flew into your eye leaving you both blind and broken-footed? I am on my way!  -Oh, sorry. I’m sure you heard, I must attend to my crippled friend immediately. Had-a-great-time-see-you-never-bye!” 

6. Have Topics in Mind- Avoid Small Talk

It’s best to avoid basic, conversational scripts, like: “so what do you like to do for fun?” “what do you do for work?” “what do you want to do once your graduate?”. You can use them for guidance during awkward pauses, sure, but you’ll run out of things to say rather quickly  if you rely on them. Your conversations will run a lot more smoothly if you have stories to tell: a hilarious incident at work, your wild experience at a music festival, the time your bff was hit by a tractor and lost an eye… you get the picture. Not to mention, if you like the guy, you’ll stand out from the other girls who can’t deal with small talk.

7. Don’t Dive Head First Into Deep Conversations

Sometimes, when the date is going well, and the conversations are running smooth, and the drinks are tasting delicious, we accidentally reveal too much information, too soon. There are certain people who are just easier to talk to than others, who seem to invite self-disclosure. It’s not always a bad thing, but ultimately it’s best to stray away from inviting a stranger into the deepest part of your mind, especially when you consider  that they may not be who you think they are- you really don’t know them yet. Deep conversations can involve an intimacy deeper than sex. Self-disclosure should come at a further stage in the relationship, when trust has been established. If the connection is there, you’ll likely see that person again, in which case you can start disclosing as the relationship progresses.

8. Be Yourself

Yes, I know, it sounds cheesy, but many people put on a persona when first meeting someone. Maybe it’s because you have your guard up, maybe you’re trying to play it cool, maybe you’re really shy, or maybe you’re an actor practicing for a role, who the heck knows, either way, it’s better to be yourself. Pretend that you’re talking to a friend. Conversation will flow more naturally if your comfortable, but you won’t be comfortable if your putting on a front. Also, if you continue to date the person they’re going to eventually learn who you really are, anyway.

8. Don’t Kiss

You may be under the impression that kissing is the mandatory ending to a date, but this is not the case. If you aren’t feeling it with your date, you don’t owe them a kiss, even if they paid for breakfast... you owe them NOTHING! If you’re really into your date and kissing just seems right, go for it; however, there is something mysterious and exciting about a girl who doesn’t kiss on the first date. I think it causes them to wonder why you didn’t want to kiss: "Was she not into me?" "Did my breath stink?" "Will she want to go out again?" It builds suspense. It also gives you time to contemplate whether kissing them is something you want to do; it can help you decide whether or not you want to see them again.

Best of luck on your dating app endeavors!


All images via Giphy.com


My name is Lauren MacDonald and I am the former campus correspondent and editor in chief of Her Campus UCSB. While at UCSB, I dedicated much of my time to Her Campus as I strongly believe in its ability to empower women to tell their stories. I graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies.
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