Dolly Doctor

Formal dates 101

You’ve got the dress, the shoes, the hairstyle inspiration – hell, you’ve even got the get-ready playlist sorted. All that’s left? The perfect date.

By Industry Insider: Gyan Yankovich
Formal Date

You’ve got the dress, the shoes, the hairstyle inspiration – hell, you’ve even got the get-ready playlist sorted. All that’s left? The perfect date.

The day you’ve been looking forward to for months is almost here and the Date Chat has officially begun. If the current status of your search is "It’s complicated", we’ve compiled some expert tips to make the lead-up to your formal as smooth as possible, no matter what’s going on with you and your partner plans.

You asked... they said no
You picked them out in your brain and eventually worked up the courage to ask them to the formal. Then, well, you didn’t get the answer you were looking for. Here’s how to come out on top:

  • Allow yourself some down time. "You’re allowed to be upset," says Dr Joann Lukins, director of Peak Performance Psychology. "It’s a normal part of being disappointed." Take a walk and let yourself process what’s just happened.
  • Talk it out. Chat to someone you can trust so you’re not left bottling anything up. By explaining everything to a friend, you’re also less likely to be tempted to post something you might regret on social media.
  • Accept their decision. Sure, you wish they were totally over-the-moon stoked that you asked them, but the sooner you realise they had their personal reasons for wanting something different from you, the sooner you can prepare yourself for a great night without them.
  • Remember they said no to the formal – not to you. There are plenty of reasons why and they’re definitely not all to do with you as a person.

Your bestie and crush have paired up
Sure, this is the stuff of nightmares, but if your friend and that guy you were hoping would ask YOU to the formal have decided to get together, there are ways to keep looking on the bright side:

  • Talk to your friend. "Friendships often last longer than relationships," says Dr Joann. So now’s the time to be honest with your friend about why you’re upset with her.
  • Before you get mad, think. Did your friend know that you liked him? Was she planning on going with him like you were? All of these factors need to be considered before you start a serious Friendship War.
  • Don’t let it ruin your night. If you’ve had to accept this is just what’s happening, prepare yourself for the fact you will see them together at the formal. By forward-thinking, you’re not going to be taken by surprise when you see them arrive together.
  • "I was once told that the best revenge is to live your life well. So, try to be happy for your friend and be the bigger person," advises Dr Joann. You’ll find a new partner and know you haven’t upset anyone.

You want to take a same-sex date
In the Perfect World, this wouldn’t be an issue, but in reality, turning up at the formal with a non-friend girl date can be totally nerve-racking. Here’s how to prep so you can have the night you and your partner deserve:

  • Speak to an adult about your plans. Chat to your parents or a teacher at school you feel comfortable with. Having the support of someone who will be at the formal will help big time.
  • Next, tell your friends. Having a network of people who support you is key. If your group accepts your decision, you don’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks.
  • Talk it out with your date. Discuss the fact that this might be unusual at your school, so you’re both prepared for anything on the night and make a pact to ignore any whispers. This is your night to shine.
  • "If something doesn’t go to plan and you feel uncomfortable at any stage, try your best to remove yourself from the situation," advises Dr Joann. This might mean trading seats or finding a new spot on the DF where you feel great and can have fun.

You’re ridin’ solo
For one reason or another, you’ve ended up without a date and there’s nobody you want to be paired up with. Here’s how to put a stop to the single blues and make the most of your situation:

  • Be selfish – in a good way. Enjoy the fact you can wear any colour dress without having to stress about his tie matching. You can decide when you want to arrive and be happy knowing there’s no way your date can let you down.
  • "Find other people going solo and consider going together," says Dr Joann. After all, it takes three to tango apparently, so get ready for a fun dance floor group.
  • Don’t get jealous. So what if your bestie got her dream date? Your formal experience is always going to be different to your friends and yours might turn out even better than anyone else’s.
  • Get dancing, no matter what. Who really wants to do the whole old-school couples boogie anyway?

The art of rejecting someone
There are a thousand reasons why you might not want to go to the formal with someone, but there are even more ways to mess up letting someone down.

"Thank them for inviting you and politely decline. You don’t need to go into details as to why you don’t want to go," says Dr Joann. "Maintain eye contact and always be gracious."

How to talk the talk, formal style:
So, you’ve got your eye on someone you’d be pretty keen to call your date? Here are five quick tips to getting an honest answer, without the awks factor:

  1. Keep it simple. Trying to pull off a tricky stunt always has the potential to backfire.

  1. Do it face-to-face. As in, put down your phone and get talking. Literally.

  1. Stay calm. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for his answer; no stuttering or red faces allowed.

  1. Do it in private. If the worst case scenario becomes reality and you get a “No, thanks”, at least you won’t have an audience. Or, if you get a big fat “Yes”, the moment is yours to cherish.

  1. Don’t beat around the bush. And by that we mean a simple “Will you go to the formal with me?” should do the trick.