1. Set Low Expectations
No one is saying you shouldn’t expect things to go well. But that’s different from having realistic (low) expectations about that first encounter. Go in with a positive attitude that the date will go well, but don’t expect the date to change your life. It may very well end up doing that, but go in with the expectation that you will have fun, relax and enjoy yourself. Avoid placing your expectations on the person you are meeting and you will do fine.
It sounds simple, but so many people talk too much on first dates because they’re nervous. Train yourself by practicing with friends. Learning how to listen is something that only comes if you will yourself to do it. Resist the urge to talk all the time, and practice listening to the other person. Attentiveness will score you points.
3. Ask Questions
This doesn’t mean you should take a list of questions with you to the date, but you should have questions in mind to ask your date. These questions don’t need to be intrusive, but they should show that you’re interested in learning more about the person. Some good questions are: ‘What qualities do you look for in your friends?’ and ‘What would your best friend say about you?’
If you have to practice breathing exercise to keep you calm, then do it, but you can’t show up to your date stressed and anxious, because it will show and generate tension that you don’t need. This is just a first date that may end up becoming something more, or may end up with you making a new friend. Just relax and flow with the vibe of the date.
5. Think Outside the Box
In the old days, dinner and a movie was the standard first date. But there are so many more interesting things to try, that you should make an effort to do something different on your first date. You don’t have to go crazy and schedule a skydiving date, unless you’re both into that, but you could go to a karaoke bar, play video games or offer to cook a meal instead of going to a restaurant.
6. Avoid Going Somewhere Distracting
What’s distracting? Going on a first date to a place that’s overflowing with beautiful women and hot guys. Your goal is to focus on your date without being tempted by distractions, so going to a club filled with women in skimpy dresses and men with muscles is probably not the best idea.
7. Do Your Research
Chances are that your first date was generated by another encounter, or by a dating website, so you do have the opportunity to do some background intel on your date. Most people have some kind of social media presence, so going on the person’s Facebook account can yield some information that you can use to generate conversation during the date.
8. Go Easy On the Alcohol
Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage during your date. Some people try to take the edge of their nervousness by drinking, which can lead to a buzz and disastrous conversation. And remember that your date is taking mental notes about everything you do, and if you’re slamming down cocktails, that may not gain you any brownie points.
Another thing that sounds simple, but is often overlooked. Smiling is one of the most effective ways to put your date at ease. A genuine smile shows that you’re having fun and that you’re enjoying spending time on the date. Smile. It’s free.
10. Don’t Talk About Other Relationships
Unless you’ve hit the motherlode of first dates, in which your connection is instant and magical, don’t talk about the men or women (or both) that you’ve dated in the past. No one wants to hear about your failures or successes. Focus on your date, not on the past.
11. Keep Things Light
If you sense that your date is getting too serious or heavy, move the conversation to lighter subjects. There’s a ton going on in pop culture, so you’ll always have something interesting or funny to discuss, and soliciting your date’s opinion on a trending topic shows that you care what that person thinks.
12. Be Honest
One tendency on a first date is not to rock the boat, so people often give canned or safe answers to questions they are asked. But it’s always better to be honest with your opinions, though that doesn’t mean you should intentionally offend. First dates are all about making assessments, and people can tell if you’re speaking from the heart, or just giving standard responses.
13. No Dirty Talk
Not sure it has to be mentioned, by avoid talking about the bedroom. Unless you and your dates discover that you are freaks, this is not an appropriate topic for a first date. It’s not bold or interesting to reveal your desires to someone who is pretty much a stranger, so curb your conversation about the bedroom.
14. Dress Well
You don’t have to wear a tux or a suit, but don’t come in torn jeans and flip-flops either. Casual elegance is the name of the game, so show up as if you respect the person on the date and yourself. Anything ripped or stained is out, just keep business casual in mind, and you’ll be fine.
15. Don’t Check Your Phone
No matter how obsessed you are with your smartphone, don’t check it on your first date. If you take a call or send a text during the date, it’s a sign that you’re bored, or that you don’t respect your date enough to wait to use your phone. And frankly, unless it’s an emergency, there’s no reason to be on your phone during a date.
16. Bring Gum or Mouth Spray
Sounds silly? Well what happens if things are going very well, but you’ve just eaten garlic and onions for dinner and the time comes to get that first kiss? These days, getting a kiss on a first date isn’t unusual, and you’d like to make it memorable, so carry sugarless gum or mouth spray and use it after dinner and dessert.
17. Show Up Early
Showing up on time or fashionably late on your first date is a big turnoff. It shows that you didn’t care enough to plan ahead and get to the spot early. Make sure you know the quickest route to the date venue, and that you show up a few minutes early. In fact, showing up before the other person gets there is always a good idea. It puts you on strong footing, and shows your date you care about making a good impression.
18. Watch How You Treat the Waiters
This one is more for men than women, but it’s important that you treat the waiters or servers at your date venue with respect. This isn’t the time to rage when your order is screwed up. Treat everyone with respect and kindness, because you can be sure your date is watching you even if it appears that she’s just perusing the menu. She will form opinions about your real character based on how you treat others.
19. Ease Up On Body Spray/Cologne/Perfume
A little spritz of cologne or perfume is sufficient to carry you through the date. Avoid overwhelming your date with a strong scent that could be distracting and offensive. You want to smell good, but you don’t need to drown in the stuff, and your olfactory senses aren’t trustworthy when it comes to what you smell like.
20. Leave Your Date Wanting More
Like a good conversation, end the date at the high point, which can lead to a second date. If things are going well, don’t prolong the date, because that can suck the energy out of your connection if you move to a new venue. End the date by thanking the person for the evening. If you’re a man, walk your date to her car. If things went well, a second date will materialize either at the end of the evening, or in the follow-up call that will happen in the next few days.