The Webster's definition is interesting: "a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character."
The words "that often has" imply that a date doesn't always have a romantic character--which means a date could be two people socializing without any hint of romance. That could just be you hanging out with your friends, right?
Think about all the other occasions in your life that could, by Webster's definition, be "dates":
- you and a friend having dinner together or going to a play, movie, museum, zoo, etc.
- you inviting a close friend of the opposite sex to accompany you to a family wedding, or even
- a first meeting between you and someone you've been corresponding with on an online dating site
If someone asked you if you were "dating" the other person in the above 3 scenarios, you'd, of course, say no. Because our definition of dating differs from Webster's. We think of dating as going out to do fun activities with someone we're romantically interested in so we can get to know each other better...and, ultimately, decide whether we want to spend more time together learning more.
Of course, that IS the point of the first face-to-face meeting with an online dating site prospect. But I advise my clients not to think of it as a "date" because that complicates it, since:
- It means you worry about who will pay for the coffee, food, etc.
- It means you might have expectations that set you up for disappointment
- It means you're self-conscious, wondering what the other person is thinking or judging based on his or her first impression of your appearance and what you say during the conversation
My advice? Let it go!! Just be yourself and let the chips fall where they may.
Thinking of this "meet and greet" as a date puts too much pressure on both parties. Just go back to Webster's definition and think of it as a social engagement. That's all. It's nothing more than a chance to get out of the house and socialize with someone new. Period.
If, by some happy accident, you two hit it off, enjoy your conversation, and--miracle of miracles--have a mutual attraction, fantastic! But don't go in expecting that. Just show up with an open mind, look and listen for the best in the other person, and be your nicest, most lighthearted self.
You may be surprised at how easily things flow, how comfortable you feel, and how well the other person responds. And it just might lead to that first real "date"--with some "romantic character" mixed in!
(If you need help letting go of expectations and being yourself in the dating world, let me know. I'd be happy to give you some pointers and some moral support!)