Going on a first date can be a nerve-wracking thing. It’s basically a job interview for the heart, as the first impression that a person makes can have a long-lasting impact on how they are perceived by the person they are dating going forward.
There are even more avenues toward getting a date then ever, as the presence of online dating websites and dating smartphone apps have made it easier to meet strangers and set up first dates. But at the same time, the accessibility to dates have heightened the importance of making a first impression, as it’s a lot more comfortable for a dater to “next” someone and move on quickly to the next candidate.
But while the landscape that’s changed, the same dating advice that existed before is still relevant now. Here are 10 dating tips that can help a dater enjoy the dating scene.
1. Relax: Sounds simple doesn’t it? While the advice to relax and just roll with the punches seems like it should be easy to execute, it’s probably the main thing a dater screws up on a first date. There’s a tendency to want to go out of your way to make the best possible impression — don’t. By just being able to relax, take it slow and have a nice, stress-free time, you are more likely to allow the “true you” to come out naturally. And the person you are dating is more likely to respond to the “true you” than an image you project. In sports terms, don’t act like the first date is for an Olympic gold — it’s more of a tune-up for bigger games ahead.
2. Have a Plan: While it seems nice to be open and willing to “open for whatever”, it’s not exactly attractive. The dater already knows what they like to do — they are interested in what you like to do and getting to know you. A good way of seeing how compatible you are with a person is getting a glimpse of what they enjoy and seeing how it goes along with what you like. Plus, having a specific plan shows the person you are dating a certain sense of boldness, as you are showing confidence in what you like and who you are. And that, my friends, builds attraction.
3. No Movie dates: There’s nothing better than snuggling up with your significant other on the couch on a Saturday night, staying in and watching a movie. A movie date at the cinema is also a great time — once you’ve been going out for a while. But on a first date, movies aren’t the right way to go. Not only does it show a lack of imagination — there are few things more cliche’ than the “dinner and a movie” date — but it also prevents you from getting to know a person. There’s little you can learn from sitting in a silent theater for two hours.
4. Be active: Let’s face it, activity gets the blood flowing and relaxes tension. So why not take that energy and use it to your advantage? Instead of sitting around and talking, why not move around and talk? Play some miniature golf, go bowling, even take a hike. Not only can you be social while playing sports, but you can also ramp up the physical flirting in an natural, non-obtrusive way. Plus, there’s no better way to enjoy a nice day/evening than being outside.
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5. Dress to impress: While there’s no need to dress like you are walking the red carpet at the Oscars — no need for Armani suits and Vera Wang dresses — you should always look clean and settled when you are on a first date. It doesn’t take that much effort and you don’t really even to get that flashy (heck, you can even throw on a pair of sneakers, or jeans if you are a woman, depending on the nature of the date), but you have to make sure everything you wear is clean, unwrinkled, and looks good.
6. Don’t break the bank: Sure, everyone loves the romantic meal with a bottle of nice wine at a steakhouse on a Friday night, but that’s another thing that is better with a long-term relationship than a first date. Don’t shoot your wad when you first meet someone. Not only are you creating a standard that you might not be able to maintain, but you are also putting a lot of pressure on the person you are dating with a grandiose first date. A coffee shop is better than a gourmet restaurant.
7. Have something to talk about: Do you need to rehearse a story like you are auditioning for an acting role? Of course not. But it’s always good to have a story or anecdote in the hopper to break through any nervous first-date silence or lulls in conversation. These stories not only give the other person a chance to get to know you, but can break the ice permanently.
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8. Flirt: It can be hard to know when to “make the move” and let the other person know that you find them attractive. Don’t be. The other person didn’t have to accept a date with you; the fact that they did shows some interest. Don’t be creepy with your flirting — now is not the time to touch her thigh or grab his butt — but light touching on the arm now can lead to a nice end-of-the-date kiss later.
9. Keep it somewhat short: A first date is supposed to be an appetizer, not a main course. You don’t want to tell every story, show off all of your flirtiest moves, or use every club in your bag. So keep it short and sweet. An hour at the coffee shop, a game or two of bowling, a few drinks, do things to that effect. Leave the other person wanting more; don’t linger around and don’t spend the night if you are looking for a long-term partner.
10. Have fun: We started the countdown of dating tips with an obvious one, so we’ll end with an obvious one. Dating, and the process of meeting new people, is supposed to be enjoyable. So roll with it. Even if things don’t work out with the person you’re on a date with, you might get a good story for the next date.