No matter how old you are, there’s something simultaneously exciting and terrifying about each and every first date. Rife with promise, the days leading up to a first date seem filled with potential. That is, until you actually show up and all of the chemistry somehow fizzles. If you’re consistently surprised by dud first dates or by the lack of a returned phone call after one that you thought was awesome, here are 10 tips that might help you make the next first date the last one, and instead take the first step to establishing something lasting.
- Be Your Best Self, But Be Yourself – You don’t want to show up in tatty sweatpants and with oily hair in order to give your date a dose of the “real you,” but it’s also not a good idea to present the facade of someone you’re not. Nothing kills a budding relationship faster than the feeling of being duped, which is exactly how your date will feel if he thinks you’re being disingenuous.
- Live in the Moment – If you planned to end the date by a certain time and you find yourself having so much fun that neither of you are ready to leave, then don’t! Throw rigid rules out the window and live in the moment. Take in a spontaneous show or have an extra cup of coffee to continue the conversation.
- Skip the Bar Scene – When you’re on a date, you want to be the center of someone’s attention. Meeting up in a crowded nightclub makes it impossible to talk over the thumping music and presents myriad distractions. Unless you’re looking forward to watching your date’s eye wander, save the nightclub date for a time when you’re more established.
- Ditch Your Buddies – Group dates are low pressure and relaxed, but they can also make it more difficult to get to know someone. Leave your friends at home and spend some one-on-one time together. When neither of you feel as if you’re forced to impress not only one another but also an extended group of friends, you’re a bit freer to be yourself.
- Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure – It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and find yourself talking about a hypothetical future, but all it does is place far too much pressure on a fragile fledgling of a relationship.
- Avoid Coming On Too Strong – You might be certain that you’ve discovered the Fountain of Love at First Sight, but you will almost assuredly terrify your date if you share your undying affection on the first date. Keep it low key, and don’t smother her with your picket-fence plans.
- Keep It Slightly Informal – Black-tie events can be very romantic for established couples, but can be a bit daunting for a first date. Save the tuxedos and ball gowns for a special occasion, and opt for something a bit more relaxing and conducive to conversation for your first date.
- Do Your Own Thing – There are piles of magazines and bestselling books out there telling people how to enjoy their first date, where they should go and what they should do when they arrive. While there is plenty of valuable and practical advice in some of these reads, very few of them take individual tastes and habits into account. If you’re going out on a date with someone you met because of a shared interest, do something that pertains to that activity. It’s okay to break out of the traditional mold, but it’s also okay to stick with the tried-and-true dinner and a movie date if that’s what you’re both into.
- Keep Your Schedule Flexible – Scheduling a date between two other events might be a practical use of time, but it also puts that date under very rigid time constraints. Try to make sure that you have plenty of time to extend the date, if the two of you feel so inclined. Rushing through dinner because you have somewhere else to be can make your date feel as if she’s on little more than a glorified speed-date, and may affect your chances of getting a call back.
- Have a Conversation, Don’t Perform a Monologue – Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves, but that doesn’t mean you have to expound on it for the entirety of your date. Get to know one another by having an open conversation. Don’t force your date to get to know you because you’ve dominated the conversation with a monologue about yourself. In the end, you’ll leave without knowing anything about the person you just shared a meal with, and he’s likely to be less than entranced with someone he sees as self-absorbed.
The dating game is a minefield of potential disasters, but it can also be a lot of fun. The key to making a first date great is doing something together that both of you enjoy and that allows for plenty of back-and-forth conversation. Get to know one another and enjoy the process!