Whether this is your very first or your hundredth first date, everyone gets a little nervous. After all, this could be the one! You could be meeting your soul mate over your first burger together or your first cup of coffee. You might just be meeting someone who could be a great friend for the long haul. Either way, first dates can be intimidating and are full of uncertainty. What is certain, though, is that if you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to an incredible first date; fun, relaxed and unforgettable.
LunchDates knows first dates. With as much experience as we’ve had pairing up professionals over the past 30 years, we know how many butterflies are in your belly right before your first meeting. Don’t sweat it, though. LunchDates offers the premier dating service for love-seeking professionals in the greater Boston area, and with our one-on-one dating professionals, you know your relationship status is getting undivided attention and care.
This action can seem like an obvious tip, but it’s often the most difficult to achieve or the most likely to be forgotten. You have a lot of thoughts rumbling around your head right now, and relaxation can easily be slid to the back burner.
Clear your head. Before pressing the doorbell, opening the door or picking up the phone, clear your head. Rinse your mind of all the things jumping around in there because everything you’ve been preparing for is happening in real time. When you first say, “Hello,” there’s no more time to prepare, but there is time to take a deep breath, try to calm your nerves and jump right into a memorable first date.
2. Be Yourself
Being your true self is always the safest bet. It sounds cliché and like this could turn into some sort of inspirational monologue, but this is an honest and sincere piece of advice.
Acting like someone you aren’t isn’t only going to be evident to your date, but it’s going to be a hard act to keep up. Your date will be confused the next time you meet and you’re a different version of yourself than you were during your first encounter. If you want things to turn out in the long run, be yourself from the very start. If someone falls for you, you want to be sure they’re falling for the real version of yourself and not the persona you’ve been trying to act like.
3. Premeditate Topics of Conversation
A lot of things can go awry during a first date. Someone is late. The food is awful. Traffic is horrible. You spill on your fancy new duds. Possibilities for minor disasters are virtually endless. Something that could send you into an anxiety-riddled panic, though, is a lull in conversation.
According to this study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, it only takes four seconds for a bout of silence during a conversation to turn awkward. If you want to resist any chance of an awkward moment inviting itself along during your first date, it could be a good idea to keep some topics of conversation tucked away.
Did something funny happen to you that week? Strange? Unusual? Take a mental note—it could be fun to mention and laugh about during your date when you feel a silence encroaching. Don’t divulge too much personal information, though. If you introduce your baggage within hours of meeting each other, things could turn awkward or too serious for a first date.
4. Dress Comfortably
How to dress for your first date is a tricky tango between sweatpants and tuxedos. Despite whether your date is taking place at your favorite park bench or the trendiest steak joint in the city, try to find a happy medium between too casual and too dressy. Maybe nix the black tie attire or ripped-up denim and opt for something a little dressy, but that doesn’t make it seem like you’re trying to out-dress your date.
Just as tip #2 works for personalities, it also applies to your first-date outfit: Be yourself. Don’t dress like someone you aren’t. If you prefer pants to skirts, wear pants! Not into accessorizing? No big deal. Don’t try to look like you were torn right out of a J. Crew magazine if that simply isn’t you. If it is you, then rock that look unapologetically.
5. Clean Up
Good hygiene goes beyond clean teeth and combed hair—it means you have your act together. Cleaning yourself up has a slew of peripheral connotations: you are considerate, responsible, not a child, etc. To someone you’re going on a first date with, these are all good characteristics to accentuate. In a nutshell, being clean and smelling good screams responsibility. Meeting a date after golfing a few rounds or going to your favorite yoga class is only acceptable if you have time to clan up afterwards. Although most adults regularly practice good hygiene, this reminder doesn’t hurt.
6. Ask Questions and Listen Carefully
A first date is a two-way street. If you only wanted to listen to or talk about yourself, you can do that on your own. Going on a first date is a teeter-totter between telling your date all about yourself and listening closely to all they have to say about themselves; be interesting and interested.
In short, don’t be a conversational narcissist. Every conversation is full of initiatives. You can either perform an attention-seeking or an attention-giving initiative. Too many attention-seeking acts and you might just be tipping too far into “me me me” territory. Talking about yourself too much or not engaging in conversation with what your date has to say could leave them feeling restless or dissatisfied with what they wanted to share of themselves. Making others feel unimportant is never a good foot to start on.
Monopolizing conversations from the get-go could make your date feel uninteresting and even have them questioning why they are out with you in the first place. If they can’t get a word in without the conversation turning back to you, chances are good their taste of the first date is a sour one and a second one might be erased from their calendars.
7. Don’t Overdo It
No matter if you go to a baseball game or a trendy bar, don’t overdo it. You may feel nervous for this date, which could cause you to hide your feelings with too much of a good thing, so lowering your inhibitions by guzzling martini after martini isn’t the best idea.
Having a drink or two may be the planned date for the night, but becoming sloppily drunk might send a signal to your date that you’re very uncomfortable in your situation. It could also signify a couple other more negative characteristics such as a lack of self-control, overly impulsive behavior or poor judgment. Whether it’s the number of beers you order or the amount of cologne you put on, it’s safe to err on the side of “less is more.”
8. Use Your Manners
You don’t need to go to etiquette school for this tip. Having manners doesn’t have to correlate with stagnant, stuffy or cold gestures, but instead they can be simple actions. Being courteous to your waiter. Speaking with your inside voice. Not picking food off your date’s plate (unless asked of course). There are a variety of simple ways to exude good manners while impressing your date.
Especially in this age of ubiquitous technology, using good manners reaches into the realm of not checking your phone while on the date or ignoring conversation to check what the score is to a game on a nearby TV. Being present and acting on all of the above tips can help exemplify good manners in their finest forms.
9. Be Good
This is a vague and vast tip. Being good has a cornucopia of iterations, but the goodness I’m talking about is simply being a good person. It’s easier to describe the things that aren’t good and avoid doing them: greed, narcissism, sexism, racism, anger, etc. Being mean and spiteful toward a waiter having a rough night isn’t going to show your date that you’re a very good person.
Being good could range from giving a good tip to the waiter who deserves it, offering to buy dinner or giving a compliment or two to your date. There’s no need to overdo it (see tip #7), but sprinkling in a couple of signs that show your core goodness as a person will never hurt you, especially in a first-date situation.
10. Ask for a Second Date
Lastly, ask for a second date. Maybe your jitters got the better of you. Maybe you had an especially stressful day at work. Maybe you just didn’t feel like yourself. Or maybe this first date was everything you had hoped for and more. Whether you want a redo or some more of the best time ever, ask for a second date. You’ll be able to tell a lot from a second date; whether the sparks are igniting or getting snuffed out will let you know if this is a budding romance, future friendship or total flop. Plus, everyone deserves a second chance.
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