Dear Metro: "I've been asked on my first ever date."

Got issues with work, love, sex, family, friendships, money or the crushing existential angst of modern life? Each week our Metro advice columnist answers a reader's query and (we assume) solves all their problems.

Dear Metro,

I am 23 years old and have never been on a date, last week a boy who I met at work asked me out clubbing. I have never been clubbing either. What advice do you have for the dos and don'ts of a first date please I would be very grateful.

Thanks,

Pearl

Dear Pearl,

Thank you for writing to us, and what a charming first letter to start this column off with. I’m going to start as I mean to go on, by immediately contradicting myself.

The worst kind of advice when it comes to love and dating is that which sets out strict rules of dos and don’ts, assuming there’s some kind of formula for dating which will guarantee success. This advice operates on the extremely incorrect assumption everyone is the same and can be manipulated into having a good time with you if you would just follow this one simple trick for making any dum-dum fall in love with you. Unfortunately, you can’t #lifehack another person’s emotions.

Behaviour one person might find funny and charming might rub another up the wrong way - and that’s actually totally fine. The worst thing you could do is put forward a fake version of yourself for a variety of reasons, the most pressing of which I believe is what if your date really likes it? Then you’ve got to commit to this weird not-you persona …. Forever? If someone likes you, you want it to be for who you truly are. If they don’t, that’s a lot of time saved for the both of you.

Having said that - do try to be a good version of yourself! A first date (especially your very first first date) is a nerve wracking thing, and if you’re prone to a bit of shyness you might forget to do normal polite things which would otherwise come naturally, such as asking this boy lots of questions about himself, and acting interested in his answers. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own nervousness that you forget to show him you’re interested. For this reason I’d say perhaps going out clubbing isn’t a great first date idea. For one, that’s a whole other first, and maybe one first at a time is enough - you don’t want to feel out of your depth. Secondly, there is possibly no worse way to get to know someone than on a sweaty, thunderingly loud and dimly lit dance floor.

Perhaps you could suggest meeting for a coffee instead, or a quiet drink earlier in the evening, and if all is going well and you think you like this person, clubbing could end up on the cards after all.

Finally, I’ve got a small hunch you’ve emailed Metro because you are worried there is something unusual about being 23 and never having gone clubbing or on a date. Perhaps it is unusual in the strict sense of not being the average experience, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The only thing I think you need to consider with regards to this being a new experience for you is what boundaries you’d like to set around this date (do you want to kiss this person? Sleep with them if things go well? Stay at their house afterward?) and stick to them. Don’t feel you have to rush or make up for lost time. We all experience life at our own pace, and romance should be about enjoyment, fun, the thrill of lust - not ticking off boxes so we feel we’re keeping up with our friends.

With love,

Metro

Send your woes to: dearmetro@bauermedia.co.nz.