And s-so I told him, n-no, man, y-you can't keep that h-horse!
March 26, 2007 6:54 PM   Subscribe

FirstDateFilter: How do I keep my calm and not turn into a stammering sticky pile of jello?

It's been a while since I've been on a real date. By a while, I mean something like three years. I tend to stick to internet relationships as a general rule, because I'm a little afraid of committment- but I met this great guy at my friend's party. Sweet, funny, nerdy, and shy- but the problem is, I am too!

When confronted with something of importance, I tend to turn into a stammering, stuttering, babbling mess- stumbling over my words, talking incessantly about nothing, going off on long tangents, just generally making everyone feel bored and awkward- then once I realize it, I turn about a million shades of pink, but can't seem to calm down and stop. This is going to be a double date with the friend whose party I met him at and her boyfriend (who is his coworker), so the situation will be somewhat alleviated, but I'm not sure just how much.

Please, hive mind- tips on keeping myself composed, keeping on topic, not talking too much, and NOT stuttering and stammering through what I do say? I have a huge girly crush on this guy, and really don't want to mess it up.
posted by Glitter Ninja to Human Relations (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A technique for shyness/anxiousness in this types of scenarios would be to spend some time imagining the date, playing it like a movie in your head. Then try to come up with worst case scenarios. Like the sort of behavior that'd be worse for a double date. As you are imagining the event, you also come up with ways to make the worst case scenarios better. Somehow this helps, since you end up thinking that the worst that could happen isn't really that bad to begin with. This leaves you feeling a lot less anxious, and more secure with yourself, which is how you'll probably like to feel during a date.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:04 PM on March 26, 2007

I have a couple of suggestions which I hope are not as stupid as they might sound.

1. Alcohol in small to moderate quantities. But WATCH IT. A couple of drinks are a huge help in these situation. Anything more than two and you are in the danger area.

2. Don't be afraid to SAY NOTHING. When in doubt, say nowt. Smile, look interested, "that's really interesting, tell me more about that..."

3. ABOVE ALL... listen.
posted by unSane at 7:10 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

Woo! Deep breath!

First of all, don't try to be too cool. Being shy and stammering with someone you like who likes you back can be incredibly cute.

But just so you can feel confident, here's what I'd do:

  • Make a point to think before you speak. Don't be so afraid of an uncomfortable silence that you just blurt something out. If you think of something to say, take a breath first. Make sure nobody's talking. Then, say it!
  • Remember to ask your crush about himself. LISTEN closely to things that he says. Make mental notes. Let yourself get curious about his answers.
  • Pepper little relatable stories about yourself, your likes and dislikes, so you don't seem like you're just interviewing him for a job or cross-examining him in court.
  • I have always tried this and failed miserably at it - try not to laugh nervously or disingenuously. Pay compliments, sure, and laugh when it's funny, but be genuine!
  • Do your friends know that you're nervous? Just tell them, they will be aware and try to ease the tension.

    Also, remember, if he likes you back, he LIKES you. Just be yourself. If you stammer, or get nervous, it will make him feel good, and he will think it's cute. If it doesn't work out, you didn't sink it. It just wasn't right.

  • posted by pazazygeek at 7:15 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

    to the stammering, stuttering, babbling "mess": don't you dare stop doing it. Own it baby! Jello can be totally kinky.
    posted by Eringatang at 7:16 PM on March 26, 2007

    Hee....I just have to point out how it's funny that the two first answers have "crazy" and "unsane" on the usernames.
    posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:16 PM on March 26, 2007

    I second what those above have said: your guy might very well be flattered if he notices you're nervous. I'd also second going over the date in your head, but this could backfire as you'd be thinking about it too much, which could make you more tense.

    Here's the hard knocks: if you two click, you'll forget about being nervous (remember, he may be just as nervous as you, even more so). If you don't click, things will get more awkward/frustrating as the night goes on. Don't blame yourself if this happens, and I hope it doesn't!--just consider it practice for your next date. Y'know, fish, sea, etc.
    posted by zardoz at 7:23 PM on March 26, 2007

    I agree - go right ahead and be nervous, but admit it! Don't try to be Ms. Cool, you'll either come off aloof or just plain weird. If you find yourself rambling, stop yourself and say, "Oh crap! I'm so nervous, I went off on a tangent!" and don't sweat it. If he's a guy worth keeping, he won't be flustered at all. Or if he is flustered but is also worth keeping, it'll be because he's nervous, too, and admitting that you're jittery will ease his worries. Basically, communicate!.
    posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:26 PM on March 26, 2007

    He's gonna love you. I wouldn't worry. Smile tons and just look him in the eye. The magic will take care of the rest.
    posted by Ironmouth at 7:43 PM on March 26, 2007

    Instead of spending four hours getting beautiful before the date, do whatever grooming you can do in the days before (e.g., nails, shave, iron) and then the day of the date, kick your ass at the gym or go for a long run, shower, put on your clothes and go. Prettifying oneself (especially if one isn't usually that girly) is stressful, exercise burns off tension, and besides -- you never are prettier than when you are relaxed and glowing from the gym. Also masturbate -- maybe you want to do this before you leave the house.

    Hard exercise + masturbation = one chillaxated Ninja.
    posted by Methylviolet at 7:51 PM on March 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

    The biggest tip I have is avoid coffee (or anything else caffeinated, or any stimulants in general), if you're prone to babbling and fucking up your words.

    While asking him direct questions is a great idea to feel him out if he's particularly shy, keep in mind that some people have no problem with someone else doing more talking than they are.

    If he's nerdy and shy, he just might appreciate that you've got a whole lot of stuff going on up in your noodle, rather than concentrate on your difficulty with getting it out. Don't let self-consciousness mar that, and don't try to play it 'cool' any more than you're used to: genuineness is attractive, no matter how it's expressed.
    posted by griphus at 7:58 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

    Compose your answer before speaking.

    In my limited experience, babble comes from not knowing what I'm going to say before I say it. So, when in doubt, toss in a "hmm" (or other delay, like "I'm not sure" "Interesting" "Well...." etc. etc. etc.) and a long pause while you decide (in your head) exactly what you're going to say.

    ...then say it, and STOP. Don't go offtrack. Once your pre-composed answer is done, stop speaking.

    YMMV, of course. I suspect everyone here would need to actually hear you babble in order to understand how to best stop it.
    posted by aramaic at 8:14 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

    Glitter Ninja, I had a date a few years back with a sweet girl who was kind of in the same boat as you.

    The date went okay, but what really sold me was when she called the next day to say thanks and explain that she's always stressed on first dates and she hoped she didn't seem too weird or crazy or whatever. I found her sincerity and humorous self-depreciation charming. We dated for a few months afterwards and are still very good friends !

    So regardless of how the date goes (er, unless its bad) don't be afraid to call the guy later (or text or email, whatever you do) and let him know how wacky first dates make you. If he's thoughtful and sweet he'll appreciate the gesture.
    posted by wfrgms at 8:26 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

    Also masturbate -- maybe you want to do this before you leave the house.

    Girls do this too? This is exactly what I would have advised if the poster was a man.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:44 PM on March 26, 2007

    Ask questions. Listen to his answers.
    posted by dobbs at 9:11 PM on March 26, 2007

    If you're going wiht your friend, talk to her a bit about your concerns and see if she can help you stay on track. That is, ask her if she sees you babbling incessantly to step in, say something, maybe just indicate to you, so you can get yourself back on track without coming to a full stop.

    I agree with what everyone else said, that it will probably be fine, that it's okay to be a little nervous and that techniques for mellowing out just a *little* can't be bad, but feel free to get some tips from your pal and have her give you a little boost not getting too flustered. Have a fun date!
    posted by jessamyn at 9:38 PM on March 26, 2007

    I second masturbating at the gym.
    posted by ill3 at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2007

    Another thing that may not apply to you at all, but here goes. If you're thinking about taking a few tokes to mellow out beforehand, DON'T. Ages ago, I did this before a date thinking it would make me all cool, but my date was instantly clued into the fact and totally turned off by it. Awful date, that was.
    posted by zardoz at 12:04 AM on March 27, 2007

    Call a good friend, parent, or other person that you are completely at ease with an hour or two before the date and have a good 30+ minute conversation about whatever. Don't talk about the date per se, just have a normal chat about day to day stuff. This will get your conversational juices flowing and it'll feel a lot more natural when you're trying to talk to someone you're not so at ease around later on.
    posted by shadow vector at 12:19 AM on March 27, 2007

    Ask lots of questions, say little.
    posted by markovich at 1:11 AM on March 27, 2007

    Just get drunk and screw. No, really.
    posted by reklaw at 1:17 AM on March 27, 2007

    You might consider going a little meta on him. Like, make reference to the fact that you're a little nervous during the date... it'll probably come off as charming and could defuse the situation for you a bit.

    Again, all in the delivery.
    posted by softlord at 5:25 AM on March 27, 2007

    before you knock on the door take 3 deep breaths. It has an amazing calming effect.

    Don't go in "all or nothing". Be looking to make one or two connections and maybe one good conversation. Dating is a process and if you go in with too high expectations you are going to be disappointed and it's going to show.

    A real trick that shy people have is to keep the conversation focused on the other person. They love you for it and you don't have to talk too much.

    Don't feel too bad if you turn into a stammering idiot again. If that's what you normally do then given this is a more stressful situation you will probably revert back to what you are comfortable doing. Just try to mitigate it a little and view that as a success. Then the next date you can try to mitigate it a little more until it eventually disappears.
    posted by any major dude at 6:55 AM on March 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

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