It's been a while since you dated, so the prospect of your inaugural "sleepover" with a new partner fills your head with dread — or, if you're the adventurous type, with skydiving images: Will you float gently down beneath a billowing canopy? Or plummet to earth with a sickening thud?
Although a first overnight is a leap of faith, you can keep your chute from collapsing by following the tips below. All were gleaned from comments posted (by both genders) on dating articles I've written online.
1. Lower the bar
"After all," Pink Floyd's Roger Waters might have put it, this night is "just another brick in the wall" — the wall supporting your new relationship structure, that is.
So while it's normal to have expectations about this date, be aware that they can create pressure (which invites performance anxiety, which in turn leads to disappointment). The quality of physical intimacy generally improves as your emotional connection grows. So relax if this particular night doesn't rival previous first overnight experiences. You'll have plenty of opportunities to improve on it.
2. Lighten up
You'll probably both be nervous, but keeping your wits about you can take some of the pressure off; it might even turn a night of missteps into some fond and funny memories down the road.
You want to make this night a joyful celebration and a lighthearted attitude should get you there.
3. Cede home-field advantage
Don't ask me to explain this, but the majority of commenters recommended that the woman should ideally be the one to host a first overnight date. Maybe it's a comfort-level thing?
4. Slow down
Agree not to rush things; there's no reason to. You have the entire night to express how you feel about each other. So have a drink. Talk. Relax (if you can). And at some point pause to savor what this night means, for it will become a sweet shared memory.
This bullet point is especially crucial for men, who tend to be hardwired for instantaneous intimacy. But intentions matter, too — so make yours known: Focus on showing how much you care for her, not what an Olympian lover you are. (Caring is a guy's best lovemaking skill, anyway!)
5. Pucker up
Prolonged and passionate kissing can help narrow the "readiness gap." Even if this first overnight leads to nothing more than that — plus some snuggling, spooning and falling asleep in each other's arms — it still counts as a success: It means you've moved your commitment to each other, and to the relationship, up another notch.
Because you have plenty of time to refine the intimacy you'll create together, consider rating your first overnight date on a scale of emotional, not physical, satisfaction.
The key thing to keep in mind is that you and your partner are the only people whose judgment counts. If you treat this special date like a unique gift — one that's best unwrapped slowly, and with respect — it will remain a treasured mutual experience for years to come.
Ken Solin, one of two AARP dating experts, is a former entrepreneur who now speaks and writes on dating and relationships.
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