Getting Past the Awkward Phase of Dating

First dates can be awkward because you don't know each other well.
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Dating is often awkward in the beginning because you don't know the other person very well. You don't know all of his favorite movies yet, and he hasn't realized you have a passion for Rocky Road ice cream. In short, you are still strangers. Everything from the first kiss to the first "I love you" is still yet to come, and it may be awkward -- but also exciting.

1 Strangers to Friends

During those first few dates you might find yourself in a battle between your heart and your head. You don't know this guy at all, but you feel an instant attraction and chemistry. Slow your heart down and give yourself time to get to know him before making a commitment to a relationship, suggests clinical psychologist Seth Meyers, writing for "Psychology Today" online. You feel awkward and uncertain for a reason -- there is still much to learn about this other person before you proclaim that he is "the one," writes psychologist John Grohol on Psych Central.

2 Grace Under Pressure

Since you don't know each other well, there are likely to be awkward moments during the first few dates. For example, he might order a meat-lovers pizza for your movie date, only to discover that you are vegetarian. Be sure to show grace during any initial misunderstandings or awkward moments, etiquette expert Dianne Gottman tells When the pizza arrives, say something like, "That's okay! My friends do that all the time. I usually just take the meat off." How you respond now sets the tone for later dates -- and showing that you don't take things too seriously will make both of you feel more at ease.

3 Honesty

Perhaps the movie that he chose for the date didn't turn out so well either. You were hoping for a romantic comedy and he chose an action-packed Arnold Schwarzenegger title. It's best to own up to how you are feeling early on -- because you are setting a standard for the rest of the relationship. Say something like, "This movie is a little too graphic for me, would you like to watch television instead?" It's better to be honest than to put up a false front and later find that you have nothing in common.

4 Good Communication

It's the end of the first date, he goes in for a kiss -- and you dodge your head away. Even worse, a few dates later he utters the words "I love you" long before you are ready to hear them. If there is a mismatch in how ready you are for getting physically or emotionally close, the best way to handle it is with good communication. Let him know that he is moving too fast by saying, "I'm sorry, I should have let you know that I like to go on a few dates before I kiss," or "I really appreciate you being open with your feelings. I like you a lot too; I'm just not ready yet to say those words." Having open discussions as issues arise will help to move both of you through the awkward phase more quickly.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.