Meeting a new person for the first time can be awkward, and it really does not matter if it is a date or other reason for meeting. Neither person generally knows much about the other person, nor is this the issue that creates the awkwardness. People often see the meeting as awkward because they may say or do the wrong thing. They are worried about making a bad impression in a social situation.
Dating, on the other hand, involves people that usually do not know each other. They are meeting, often for the first time, and each may have their own goals. Some people date to see if they are compatible for a relationship, but others may just want to get out of the house for the evening. There are daters who are only going out because their friends and family have pushed them into this social situation. All of these people may be worried about the goals of the other person as well as their own.