Keys to a Successful First Date
*Think about how your learning disability may impact your date
*Ask about the details of the date ahead of time
*Take time to check your appearance
*On the date, talk about your interests rather than your disability
*Avoid meeting his or her friends on the first date
Dating and beginning a new relationship can be scary—for everyone. For those with learning
disabilities, the prospect of becoming involved with another person can be extremely frightening.
You may have low self-esteem, having felt “different” or felt like an outsider most of your life.
You may have trouble with reading social cues, following conversations or finding the right
words to express what you think. All of this can create fear, sometimes so much fear that
avoiding relationships altogether sounds more appealing than forcing yourself to meet new
people. Of course, choosing to avoid relationships, although easier and more comfortable, may
make us lonely and miserable.
The following are tips to help you:
Think about how your learning disability may impact your date. Communication is key. Explain
what your date should expect. For example, if you have dyslexia, let him or her know that
reading a menu be difficult. Or perhaps you need to take a few minutes to collect your thoughts
before answering questions. You don’t need to go into great detail or explain everything about
your disability, only those things that may affect the date. As your relationship continues, keep
up the communication, explaining what he or she can expect and how he or she may be able to
Ask about the details of the date ahead of time. Find out as much information as possible to
avoid embarrassment or being uncomfortable. For example, will you be eating on the date? If
not, you may want to eat a meal first so you aren’t starving the whole time. Are there any special
clothes or special items you might need? If you are going to see a movie or play, you may want
to make sure you have your glasses with you. If you are going ice skating, you might need warm
clothes and gloves. Take time to find out in advance to save yourself from feeling uncomfortable
Take time to check your appearance. To many people, appearance is equated with beauty, but
appearance means so much more. People are attracted to those who smile and look confident and
happy. Make sure your real personality shines through. Whether or not you are physically
attractive will have little to do with if you appear attractive.
Be interested in the person you are with. Asking questions about interests is a good way to start a
conversation. Many times this can lead to finding out what you have in common or what
activities you both like. Showing a genuine interest in the other person helps to break the ice. Be
armed with questions such as: What is your favorite television show? What do you like to do on
weekends? Where’s your favorite place to go on vacation?
Remember, everyone is nervous on a date. Sometimes, when you have learning disabilities, it’s
easy to believe you are the only one who is nervous, but the truth is, everyone is nervous when
first getting to know someone. It can be easier for extroverts to make conversation but that
doesn’t mean they don’t also worry about the other person liking and accepting them.
Use active listening. We are often taught active listening skills in elementary school, and they are
just as important as we get older. Make sure to listen to what your date is saying. Conversation is
the act of listening and sharing. It becomes much easier if you are interested in what the other
person says and can build upon their words.
Talk about your interests and passions rather than your disability. Although you may want to
briefly explain how your disability impacts certain parts of your life, talking about your interests
and what you feel passionate about will create more interesting topics of discussion and may lead
to finding out about shared interests.
Don’t use your learning disability as an excuse. People that like you will accept you, learning
disability and all. Accept who you are and own it. If you accept yourself, others will too.
Avoid meeting his or her friends on the first or even second date. A first date is meant to get to
know one another, not to meet all his or her friends. You will be nervous enough with just one
new person to meet and talk with. Suggest a venue where you will be able to talk together
without running into your friends or theirs.
Being involved in activities in your community, volunteering or joining a club can help you to
meet new people. The good thing about this is you have a starting point from conversation. You
already have one thing in common. Being involved also makes you more interesting.
The most important thing to do on a date is: Have fun and enjoy yourself!