The first date can bring you closer or pull you apart. You’re taking a chance at finding a meaningful relationship. It’s a bit nerve-racking for the both of you. At the same time, it is an opportunity to work out if you can possibly have a future with him.
Take your first date seriously but avoid being hard on yourself or him. You want to put your best foot forward, and hope that she does the same for you. This guide tells you how to make the right choices before and during your first date to ensure it is a smashing success, and be seen as reliable, authentic and interesting.
Choosing the right place
Some people can be thoughtless while picking a place for their first date. A few go over the top. And many wish, in retrospect, that they could have selected a more suitable place.
A casual, neutral place
Nobody expects to fall in love on their first date. The idea of going to a romantic restaurant is intimidating and pretty bizarre. Choose a neutral place where you can have a conversation, eat great food and enjoy a nice atmosphere. A bar with great food, a new hip coffee shop or a popular hangout in the city are all fair choices.
Try not to turn up the romance on the first date with red roses and chocolates. You’ll scare her away. A first date is like trialing a software for the first time. If you like him, you can ‘upgrade’ to a second date, where you can start getting romantic!
A place that isn’t hard to reach
Did your date have to travel 40 minutes to get to the restaurant? Anything too far from her place or difficult to reach (even if she has a car with GPS) will definitely not create a good first impression about you. Make a considerate choice and select a place close to her apartment, perhaps even at a walking distance – you will earn brownie points with her.
A place of mutual interest
An ideal situation would be choosing a place where the both of you have visited and liked, or a new place that aligns with your common preferences. You will know what you’re in for, be able to settle in quickly and can focus on enjoying one another’s company.
An activity-focused place
Are you both the outdoorsy type? Is he an introvert? It may be a good idea to choose a place where you can engage in an activity rather than one that allows you to talk and do little else.
What to Wear on the First Date
Your date should feel like you made an effort for him or her, so do dress nicely and be as pleasant as you can be! We’re not recommending you turn up in a suit (a bit too much!) or anything too dressy or revealing.
Dress based on where you’re meeting. Ex: If you’re meeting in a casual restaurant during daytime, a crisp tee, chinos and sneakers are great. Cold outside? Wear a denim jacket or even better – a sharp leather jacket – women love a man in a nice-fitting leather jacket.
Girls have more choice. You can go with a tee, skinny jeans and comfortable shoes on a daytime coffee date. Another option is a denim dress with sneakers and sunnies. If you’re going someplace fancy for a lunch date, an A-line dress or a maxi dress – with flats, wedges or boots is an appropriate choice.
Turn up the style on a dinner date. Men, if you must wear jeans opt for black or dark indigo. Ditch the tees if you’re going to an upscale restaurant, and wear dress pants/straight leg trousers and dress shirts, but hold on to that biker jacket or swap for an elegant cashmere coat if you happen to have one in your closet.
Women can wear a shift dress and nude heels. Keep it chic – avoid bright floral patterns and lighter shades more suitable for daytime dressing. If there will be dancing, make sure it allows easy movement and lets you show off your moves! Another elegant and sexy option is a pair of skinny jeans/trousers with a silk camisole, blazer, heels and clutch.
- Wear clothes that flatter your body
- Prioritize comfort
- Consider statement jewelry (women)
- A nice cologne or perfume
- Groom your hair, teeth and nails
- Strut confidently!
- Hats and sunglasses indoors
- Open-toe shoes (men)
- Very tight clothes
- Very busy or cartoonish patterns (men)
- Hoodies and ties (men)
How to Behave on the First Date
When you first met her, you were engaging as strangers. Then the connection happened, and now you’re romantically interested in her and testing the waters. This is the time to shine and know if the sparks you felt on your first meeting can sustain on the first proper date, and more dates to come.
- Get there on time or poof, the magic is gone!
- Be yourself. She already knows you a fair bit. Don’t go all Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on her by presenting yourself as someone you’re not.
- Be honest. If you didn’t make an important disclosure during your initial conversation (you have kids or you’ve been married before), do it on the first date. You don’t have to tell him every secret but be transparent if he asks.
- Stay in the present moment. Both of you have chosen to be there – focus on connecting rather than worrying about whether or not she likes you.
- Be mindful of your body language. Leave any annoying personal habit such as chewing your nails, twirling your hair or bouncing your legs, at the door!
- Also check your privilege at the door. Boastful comments are a turn-off, as is playing hard to get.
- Hold your booze. One too many drinks are fine but getting boozy to the point of making your date cringe is a no-no.
- Have fun! Even if the date isn’t going as planned and he/she appears bored despite your best attempts, enjoy the food and ambiance. There are many fish in the sea.
Make disclosures in a careful and dignified way
Revealing too much about yourself is unattractive to others and makes them feel uncomfortable.
Self-disclosure comes into play as a relationship progresses. It can be powerful in building an intimate relationship based on mutual understanding and trust. But before the first date, disclosures should be kept to a minimum.
- Reveal things about yourself at the same rate as your date. Don’t give away everything about yourself while she volunteers very little or no information.
- If you want to open up, do it carefully: after the small talk, get to the facts (where you come from, are you a single parent, etc.), then to opinions (current events, life topics, etc.) and to feelings (describe your emotional reaction to a topic)
- Lead with a positive tone if you happen to touch upon a heavy issue. Negativity can be a turn-off and create the wrong perceptions about your emotional state. Keep any disclosure that you feel is important on a positive track.
Try to peel off the layers
Her answers to your questions, how she engages you, and her body language reveal clues into her personality and mindset.
For instance, she tells you that she loves Chinese food and doesn’t eat a lot of other cuisine. She has a good job that affords her luxuries, but she is not into travelling and exploration. And she is very close to her family, who live in a different city. You could guess that she is a homebody and perhaps conservative and not a risk-taker.
It is up to you to decide if you might want to spend more time in her company. If you find her pleasant and attractive, we think you should say ‘yes’ to a second date, and see how it goes. The more you know someone and feel that you’re having a good time around them, the better the chances of a relationship that doesn’t dissipate quickly.
Note your body language (and theirs)
Certain non-verbal gestures can be a buzzkill – so pay attention to how you’re reacting to him.
1. Be attentive – nod, make eye contact and convey interest
2. Lean forward to listen to him – leaning backwards is rude, condescending or may even make him wonder if you’re feeling physically ill
3. Smile often and naturally – a fake smile or an attempt to smile like a movie star on a red carpet is plain weird!
4. Don’t cross your arms – you want to appear open and approachable
5. Never check your phone – if you need to take an important call, excuse yourself humbly but don’t even think of checking your texts or looking down at your phone every few minutes!
Ensure that the conversation isn’t directionless
A nice flow to the conversation is obviously a good sign, but know where it’s going or else there might be misunderstandings later on, and the time you’ve invested in his company may amount to nothing. Don’t keep each other guessing – gauge one another to see if you really share a connection or some common ground.
Be considerate and empathetic
An easy way to make a good impression on your date is to listen to what she says and validate her. Try to step into her shoes, be open to opposing views, and try not to turn everything into a debate, especially if you happen to be discussing politics or religion. Avoid sensitive topics as much as you can – touch upon it briefly if your date seems interested in knowing your choice of Presidential candidate or views on wearing head coverings, and segue into an uncontroversial or a light-hearted topic.
Wooing an introvert
Is your date an introvert? You can make him feel comfortable and open up to you with a few tricks:
- Don’t be judgmental of his silence. Take the lead in asking questions.
- Try to deepen the conversation once you get in the groove.
- Channel your curiosity about his interests to create an easy dialogue
- Recognize cues that may indicate interest or discomfort
- Share interesting tidbits of your own
- Don’t hesitate to ask unique, open-ended questions
Avoid getting overly familiar
This is self-explanatory but worthwhile to keep in mind. Resist the temptation to treat her like an old friend. Respect boundaries and give her the space she deserves.
No first date is perfect: don’t be hard on yourself at the end of the day and wish you could have done better. If you feel you could have changed something, make note of it for your second date or a date with another man/woman.
Social distancing etiquette on the first date It is best to avoid getting touchy-feely on the first day. You’ve only just met and she may not be ready to be as affectionate as you. You can consider making a move if you are sure she’s into it. Observe her body language for cues: if she brushes your hands a few times and flirts a fair deal, she may not mind your arm around her or a quick kiss at the end of your date. But, touching her knee during your conversation or playing with his hair are deal-breakers.