What to expect on your first Swan date

Published on 3 May 2022 at 15:17

Surprisingly nervous? Jittery? Anxious and excited? Here's what you need to know before meeting your first match.

Handling the fear

"I haven't been this nervous before a date in a long time" is a sentence we're getting used to hearing. There's something about a pre-arranged, almost totally blind date that turns our "latent anxieties" dial straight up to max.


The good news is that this can be surprisingly fun – especially if you're a veteran of the dating app scene, where the stakes are so low they're practically flat. Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) is the hormone responsible for the butterflies in your stomach, and it's the same one we produce when we exercise or ride a rollercoaster. It helps improve parts of our memory, increase muscle strength, and metabolise sugar and fatty acids. Those are all things that level up our performance, even if you don't feel confident emotionally. There's a reason people say it's good to feel nervous before exams, and it isn't just that they're sadists.


So don't worry if you're feeling a little anxious: it's completely normal, and it might even be helpful. Remember: your match is probably more scared of you than you are of them. Like with spiders.


Uncovering your compatibility

Now that you're ok with the nerves, it's time to remember the most important thing about your match: the two of you are, in some way, fundamentally compatible. 


This doesn't mean you'll instantly fall in love or be best friends forever. We can't account for biochemistry, the finer nuances of your political views, or the fact you've forgotten to tell us you hate blondes. But we don't make matches unless there's something distinctive the two of you share. It could be a series of traits; it could be your outlook and worldview; it could be that you've both taken unusual paths in life only to end up in the same place. Or it might be that you're what we call a complementary match, in which your personalities differ but you each fill in the other's gaps – you're spontaneous and chaotic, they plan down to the minute; as a couple, you end up at a happy medium.


The way you're connected might be obvious from the start, or you might uncover it as a surprise after a few drinks and dinner. But it's there, waiting to be revealed.


How it actually works

As you may know by now: when you're matched, we'll liaise with you and your date to find a good time before we book you in. But as you may not have discovered yet, we'll also send you a reminder of your date on the day – complete with your match's first name, initial, and biography. This is what we mean above when we call your date "almost totally blind": you'll find out a little about who they are and what kind of things they enjoy, but everything else about them is yours to discover. 


On the practical side, we'll give you clear instructions about what to do when you arrive at the venue. Often, it's as simple as giving your name to pub or restaurant staff so they can guide you to your table. If we've set you up to meet outside or in a venue that doesn't take bookings, we'll use what3words to give you an exact meeting point. Whatever the case, we'll be on email at the time of your date to make sure you both arrive and find each other ok. If you're running late, can't see your match, or there's been a crisis and you have to cancel, just drop us a line. We'll get the message to your match immediately.


Finally, after your date has finished (and yes, we know sometimes that's not until the next morning) we'll send you our post-date survey to complete. This is one of the most important steps in the matching process, because it's your chance to give us feedback on everything about your experience, and tell us whether you'd like to see your match again. Without the survey we can't improve your future dates, and won't be able to set you up again. But with it we get to know you better, and we use that knowledge to keep tailoring Swan to your needs. 


And finally

The best way you can prepare is by relaxing, and looking forward to the experience. This isn't Tinder or Hinge: you're not turning up, checking the other person against some boxes in your head, then making your excuses if they don't score enough ticks. In fact, if you're used to dating apps, it's easy to see the dating process as basically adversarial: you both want something from each other, and if you don't think you'll get it then you write them off. 

With Swan, we recommend treating your match as if your goal is to make a new friend. You don't know much about them, but you do know that they're interesting, thoughtful, and have lots to offer. We don't set you up unless those things are true. Try to spend your time getting beneath the surface of your match, to discover the things you have in common.


Our goal is to humanise dating, and we hope you have a wonderful time helping us succeed.