First dates are a little scary for everyone, but with that knowledge, you can at least feel as though you are not the only one with nervous jitters!
First dates can be overwhelming if you are at a life stage where you want to meet someone special. On the other hand, if you are looking for the person you hope to spend your life with, you might be going on a few first dates to find that person, so you will build confidence over time. Going on plenty of dates is a form of exposure therapy, and it gets easier and easier as you go along. You could get a little more relaxed about the whole idea, but if you want this date to go well, here are some first date tips to try out.
Choose a Daytime Date and Venue
First dates can be tricky to negotiate conversation-wise, and evening dates can lead to unwanted expectations. A shorter date, like lunch at a bowling alley, keeps things sharp and to the point. Plus, the activity of bowling and the people milling around helps to quiet those awkward silent moments when we are lost for words.
You could join an art class session together, for example, or an exercise class depending on you and your date’s fitness levels. You don’t want them to feel embarrassed if they cannot keep up with the activity, but there are less strenuous ones, like going on a rowing boat where you take turns rowing!
If that sounds too active, you can simply meet for afternoon coffee.
The great thing about daytime dates is that if it goes well, you can continue on together for the whole day.
Other easy-going date ideas include:
- Join a one-hour yoga class together
- Go to a museum
- Learn Tai Chi for an hour
- Play a round of golf (or hang out at the driving range if you are a first-timer)
- Go to a flea market
- Eat from a food truck – some of the tastiest meals come from your favorite hot-dog stall or food truck.
- Chess in the park
The list is endless, and there are many venues now with activities for different age groups, interests, and ability levels.
Use Your Own Transport
No matter how polite or kind the other person is, it is probably better to go on a first date with your own transport. Whether it is your own car, a bus, or a train. Plan this beforehand.
If a date is not going well, it is better to exit alone than rely on the other person to take you home.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it also helps to know where you are going before you go on the date, so stake out the place ahead. You might go there in person to find out about the area, or you can sometimes ask businesses to send over a virtual tour that you can download onto your phone. This can lead to a sense of security. Other than that, stick to places you know that are not far away from home.
If You Have Met On a Dating Site, Meet as Soon as Possible
This might sound like strange advice, but people tend to draw things out online, which could waste your time ultimately. There is a fine line between feeling like you connect as people and spending too much time online.
Being online can create expectations and unnecessary tension if you don’t meet them within a reasonable time frame. Keeping it real is essential. We can often hide behind words, photographs, and the convenience of only showing what we want to show. Meeting a person in real life has a totally different feel. Also, it separates the people who really want a relationship from those that could be just fooling around for the sake of it.
When you do meet, take the necessary safety concerns seriously. This first date tip works for all kinds of people and all kinds of meetups.
How to Keep the Conversation Flowing
Some people are natural talkers and find making conversations easy, others need to learn how to be more talkative. Still, in dating, the situation calls for giving and taking. Don’t hog the conversation, and don’t keep too silent, either. If you do, the other person might have thousands of things going through their mind, and you want them to feel comfortable.
If you feel at a loss for words, here are some great ideas for conversations, as they also help you to find out more about the other person.
Ask them about what makes them laugh or smile. Sharing our sense of humor can really make a person relax, plus it sheds a bit of light on the type of person they are and if you are going to get along. Asking about what they like to do with their weekends could give you insight into their energy levels or hobbies and whether they align with yours.
The list is endless, which is your favorite job, where do you love to eat out, do you have a lot of friends or a few special friends, do you love parties, or are you more of a ‘read a book by the fire’ type of person.
Asking about vacations is also essential. It shows the places and people they seek out and, importantly, questions about their family and relationships. Are they respectful of their family, or are they estranged? If they are estranged, they could be difficult, or their family is complicated. This could be meaningful to you if you love family and family gatherings.
To Avoid Being Very Nervous, Turn Your Focus on Them
If you think about it, they are the reason you are there. You want to know more about them and the only way to do that and become a master at talking to strangers is to focus on them. Some people become so nervous they can come across as self-centered, which could be very off-putting. Most people are fascinating, and allowing natural curiosity can lead to a smooth and relaxed conversation.
Being focused on another person allows you to take the spotlight off yourself, which is probably one of the most relaxing things you can do. When you listen to another person, really hear, you can study their body language as well. Are they tense, fidgety, and nervous? Or are they very relaxed? While you listen, you should obviously respond appropriately. Otherwise, your date might wonder if you are really present during the meetup.
Don’t Go on a Date to Win
These days there are many game shows and reality TV shows where people go on dates to be chosen or to win. This is not what you are there for. It might boost your self-esteem, but is this a person you want to spend more time with, or is it simply about winning? If you have that clear in your own mind, it will reduce any tension. Not every situation is about winning or losing. Even though society might have us believe that. Perhaps this person is not for you, and you can move aside to help them find the perfect person. The same goes for you.
Imagine being asked on a second date simply because they felt they had won a prize instead of because they sincerely liked you? Not a great feeling at all. Going in with the right mindset can make all the difference and help you be fully authentic. If you are entirely yourself, it might mean the person doesn’t want to spend time with you, but it also means they are not suitable for you. You must keep the pathway clear for those who are right for you.
Dress Appropriately and in a Style That is True to You
Of course, you want to look your best, but if you hate suits, why wear one? It is not a true reflection of you unless the occasion calls for smart attire, of course. The same for women; you might want to dazzle your date but dress in style appropriate to the date venue. If you are going canoeing, you don’t want high heels. That might sound obvious, but it is a strong point, and dressing appropriately is one of the most important first date tips!
Try not to overdo the makeup unless you love wearing it every day. Give the other person a chance to see who you really are.
You can still look your best by dressing nicely, being clean and neat, and ensuring your breath smells great. If you both hit it off and get together again, there will be plenty of time to dress up to the nines for fun.
People notice posture, confidence, and smiles first, then clothes and what you look like afterward. People get a gut feeling about you when they first meet, whether they realize it or not, and this counts for more than which color top you have on. First impressions are lasting, and a winning smile is a great anchor for someone who has just met you.
Who Should Pay the Bill?
Most women still expect men to pick up the bill, but times are changing, and many women prefer to at least pay half or chip in. This is good manners, especially if you don’t intend to see the person again.
It also lowers any expectations from either person. If a person is insistent that they want to pay, then at least pay a portion.
With this in mind, choose your date venue carefully. You want to be able to afford to pay your share. Some people insist that they should not pay at all, and perhaps your perfect partner is out there and loves paying for everything. At least if you ask them to do that and they agree and see you again, you know that this is what they prefer to do, but that arrangement is personal and shouldn’t be discussed on a first date.
The ‘no-go’ Areas of Conversation
When you first meet someone, you don’t want to explore deeper topics like your ex-partner, whether they want to get married, or other deeply personal questions and conversations.
It is also not a time to go into issues you have passionate ideas about, like politics and global warming. You might like the side of yourself that stands up for anything you believe in, but the other person hasn’t had a chance to get to know you yet and might find this very uncomfortable.
When we go on a date, and it is crucial to feeling accepted, we might become super nervous. It helps to know beforehand what is seen as attractive behaviors and conversations, so it is helpful to keep your ‘topic’ list in your mind ahead.
Tune Into Your Gut
Throughout the date, you can pause and ask yourself how you feel. Your gut instinct is usually right. First date tips like this one help to keep you on track and focus on your date experience instead of trying to impress someone.
Humans operate at all levels, and we often function at our very deepest core picking up signals that we are unaware of.
Checking in from time to time keeps us on track.
Red Flags Not to Ignore While on a Date
The date could be going well, and everything is light and breezy, but there are some red flags to look out for on a first date. You might not see these issues while on a date, but they are essential, and if you know about them in advance, you will be alert to anything happening that could change your perspective on your date. These behaviors are a warning sign if you are in the dating game for genuine reasons, such as finding a life partner.
They are Not OK, But I Am OK
During your date talk by now, you would have asked about family members, their friends, and some experiences they’ve had, and you might or might not have noticed a theme around these topics.
If they tend to blame everyone, playing a victim role in every encounter they have had, this is a red flag. It shows they have little insight into their behavior, and change would be difficult for them. Some people will take responsibility for the reactions others have towards them. This is a bit more of a healthy outlook. It shows they can change things if there are issues in the relationship. Some relationships can’t overcome challenges, but the key here is ‘theme.’
They Talk About Sex on Your First Date
First dates are about getting to know a person, not about sex. Unless you are both aware of this in the first place. First dates are a great time to learn more about the other person, their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, and the type of relationship they enjoy. This is a big red flag if your date talks about sex too soon. They could be in it for sex only and nothing else.
They Insist on Coming to Collect You for the Date
This is a big no. Having your safety and security boundaries shows your prospective date that you are independent and can make your own decisions. Safety always comes first, but their disregarding your choices is also a red flag aside from the obvious. If they brush this aside, they do not understand boundaries.
They Talk About Themselves Too Much
Remember, dating is a little give and take; if someone is hogging the conversation with self-talk, this is a red flag. It could mean that your date is very self-centered and self-driven. Genuine people take an interest in other people, especially on a first date.
The Disgruntled Ex
Sometimes it is inevitable that ex-relationships come up. Although this is generally a topic to avoid, some interest in their latest experiences is essential and you probably want to know whether they moved on from an ex. They could be widowed, for example, or newly divorced. If you notice that they have nothing good to say about their ex-wife or partner, this is red flag territory. No matter how hurt we are or how tough the going is, people can generally think of something good to say about their ex and take on some of the responsibility for what went wrong. Often first dates have children, and if they are separated or divided, you will want to know how you can fit into their child’s life. Plus, make a decision if children are something you are ready for.
What to do After the Date
You might have felt a real connection and are keen to know whether they did. Sometimes this is acknowledged at the date, and sometimes, it is not. It just depends on the person. The best token is if you liked the date, send a text saying how much you enjoyed your time with them. You can even add that you’d love to see them again.
They might respond right away, or they might not. Neither response is something to fret about. Just make sure not to text again. Our first date tips are helpful, but remember, dating is never easy for anyone, and if a person is looking for a particular kind of person, they can be quite set in what they want.
The key here is to focus on your longer-term plan and keep the way to your door open for the right partner for you. If you get tussled up with the wrong person, all your right partners could come and go because you are busy in a relationship that wasn’t perfect for you.