Ever been on a date that really sucked? That you wondered if you could successfully drown yourself in your soup before the waiters pulled you out? Maybe you couldn’t think of anything to say or maybe everything that came out of the other person’s mouth grinded on your soul a little bit and made you sick.

It was all the other person’s fault, right? What if you were at least partially responsible, being that you were 50% of the people on the date. Either way, here’s how to prevent your date from sinking to that point and maybe even rescuing it if it gets there.

1. Fun is king
Choosing the right activity can often solve all of your problems. Coffee/dinner/drinks are okay if you can flirt like Ryan Gosling or Zooey Deschanel, but creative date ideas are always better. If you choose an activity where you both have to physically DO something it takes the emphasis off the conversation and you can both relax more. Working up a sweat is even better because it gives you a high (similar to a few drinks) and the other person will attribute that feeling to you. The main idea here is that you’re not trying to impress them. You’re going out to have fun and the other person is coming along for the ride.

A few good ideas here.
Some of my own:
Kickboxing/yoga/squash/art & crafts lesson – go to a class in something that neither of you have tried before. Don’t worry if you won’t be able to talk much during, there’ll be plenty of eye contact and smiles and you’ll have a lot to talk about afterwards.
Photo scavenger hunt – make a list of things to search for then go take photos of them
Go to the zoo
Make bucket lists – things you both have to do before you die
Skinny dipping

2. Be cheeky, polite is boring
The correct response to something like “Sorry for bumping into you” is not “That’s okay”, it’s more along the lines of “Watch where you’re going doofus” or “Don’t touch me!”, followed by a shove and a cheeky smile.

If they ask you what you do for work tell them you’re an astronaut, or a lion tamer, or a supermodel. Show them how deep into the lion’s mouth your arm goes when you brush its teeth and ask them if they want to meet the lion cubs. Keep the story going… roleplay.

When you go to hand them something pull it away at the last second, then pull it away again.

When the time comes to pay the bill suggest doing a runner, or offer to pay with the ’30 cents and a button’ that you have in your pocket (then actually pay your share, or offer to pay for the whole thing if you want to… if you didn’t do a runner).

Polite trivial conversation is boring and leads to that awkward, uncomfortable feeling. If you notice that your conversation isn’t keeping both of you engaged, spice it up with some cheekiness. Make some shit up. This makes it a lot easier to come up with new topics and keeps the conversation flowing. You’ll feel comfortable with each other much quicker.

If you do happen to overstep the line though, apologise with sincerity. There aren’t many slip ups which can’t be fixed with a genuine apology, and a good apology can often make things better than they were before you slipped up.

3. Create sexual tension
Similar to #2 above but in this case the cheekiness is applied to sexual subject matter, either explicit or implied. If they bump into you and apologise, tell them it was a poor effort and that you bet they could bump into you better, make them do it again.

If they ask you what you do for work tell them you’re a pole dancer, or you strip in a giraffe costume, or that you review porn. Their reaction will tell you whether you can get more explicit if you want to, or whether to back off a little.

Play truth or dare.

Also hold eye contact and touch them whenever the opportunity arises (nudge, poke, high five, tickle, hug, knuckle bump, handshake, push, play slap, pull their hair, grab them in a dancing position). Eg. If they tell you “there’s a hair on my steak”, hug them comfortingly and say seriously “I’m sorry, do you think our relationship can ever get past this?”

4. Idea chunking
Have trouble keeping conversations going? Here’s the best method I know.

If there is ever a break in the conversation you can keep it going by chunking down, up or sideways from the last thing that was said.

Eg. “I just got back from Europe.”

Chunking down from Europe – getting more specific
You look a little European, are you French or something?
What did you do over there? Party in Ibiza?
What countries did you visit? etc.

Chunking up from Europe – getting less specific
Do you like travelling the world? What do you like about it?
Where on earth would you most like to live?
Have you ever been to outer space? Would you like to?

Chunking sideways from Europe – related ideas
Where else have you travelled before?
How is Europe different from Asia/Australia/etc.?
I just got back from Africa, I bet my trip was better.

Use any combination of chunking up, down and sideways. If you can’t think of anything to say you have probably chunked too far in one direction. Go another way.

5. Blurt it out
If something is going around in circles in your head, think about voicing it to get it out of your head… though probably not if it’s something about their looks or personality that’s bothering you, unless you think they won’t take offense. This one sometimes takes a bit of guts. If they make you a little nervous, try telling them. It has an interesting effect, and no it doesn’t mean you’ve just admitted you’re in love with them.

If you’re sitting together resting on each other and it starts to get uncomfortable, say it, change position.

If you want to kiss them, do it. Don’t wait til the end of the date when you’re both going to be thinking about it. It’s much easier when it comes out of nowhere at a point where you feel particularly comfortable with them. Then do it again at the end.

Don’t apologise for this stuff. Hold the frame of mind that you are okay with it and they will be too.

Getting stuff out of your head frees up brainpower to think of interesting and meaningful things to say. It’ll also make you more comfortable because you won’t be worrying about that thing you were worrying about anymore.

6. Decisiveness & assertiveness
If they give you some options and you have a preference, say it, rather than saying you don’t mind. If they offer you something and you want it, don’t decline because you want to be polite, take it.
If you want them to decide, tell them you want them to decide. If neither of you can decide, flip a coin, play scissors, paper, rock.

Many people don’t like making decisions. It often leads to those awkward indecisive moments which are worse than making the wrong decision. Wrong decisions sometimes turn out to be the best decisions.

7. Word vomiting
Some people have this inbuilt ability where they can string numerous seemingly unrelated ideas together into one drawn-out sentence without so much as taking a breath, for the purpose of filling silence - because silence scares the shit out of them. I challenge you to refrain from word vomiting as you’re not really having a conversation and you’re not really giving the other person a chance to speak. Either ask them something you want to know, look them in the eyes and stick your tongue out at them, tell them you’re waiting to hear what they say next, or use one of the gap-filler questions in #8 below.

Interestingly silence is seen as a natural part of conversation in Finland and probably some other cultures. They don’t find it awkward at all.

8. Gap-filler questions
Still can’t think of anything to say? Remember these questions, and ask them cheekily:

- What’s something that would shock you if I did it now?
- What was your favourite TV show as a kid? Do you remember the theme song?
- Is kissing cheating?
- When we get married, how many kids are we going to have? What will we call them?
- When was the last time you wet your pants?

9. If all else fails
Use the emergency phone call. Get a friend to call you at a predetermined time during the date and pretend they’re having a crisis. If the date isn’t going well you’ll be able to leave to “help your friend” without having to let the other person know the date sucked.

STOP READING. Get in touch with someone you're dating or want to date RIGHT NOW and set up a creative date. Come up with your own idea or choose one from #1 above. Go!

Leave your comments here.

Author's Bio: 

Pete Zephyr is the founder of DatingShakeup.com where he stirs things up in the dating world and empowers people to expand their comfort zones. It's for those of you ready to get comfortable in your own skin by diving into the unfamiliar. Each post has a challenge designed for your personal growth.