Meeting your date face-to-face for the first time can feel like a lot of pressure. After all, if you don’t impress her, the odds of seeing her again aren’t great.
But don’t worry, this guide is packed with expert advice for first date success – so she’ll say “yes” to a second one!
You’re about to get 18 tips and strategies for what to do before, during and after your first date – everything you need to make an impression she won’t forget!
Before The Date
Tip #1: Be Strategic About Your Word Choice
If she’s in her 20s or early 30s, or you know from your online dating conversation that she’s not looking for a serious relationship, ask her to “meet up” or “get together.” Those terms are low key and casual, so she’s more likely to agree.
If she’s in her mid 30s and up, or you know she’s seeking a committed relationship, go ahead and use the word “date.” It’s a more serious word, and if she’s actively looking for boyfriend or husband material, she’ll be glad to know you’re on the same page.
(For expert advice on how to ask her out, click here.)
Tip #2: Keep It Casual
For the first date, stick with activities that are “low investment” in terms of both time and money. You don’t want to look like you’re desperate to impress her, so don’t suggest a fancy, expensive dinner.
Likewise, proposing a long activity like dinner or a movie (or worse, dinner and a movie) isn’t a good idea. You’re asking her to commit to spending a few hours with you, and that puts a lot of pressure on her – especially if the two of you end up not hitting it off.
Almost every woman has had a bad first date experience, and trying to make a graceful early exit is awkward and uncomfortable – not something she’s probably looking forward to repeating.
On the other hand, agreeing to meet you for a quick cup of coffee or a cocktail is virtually no pressure at all, and something she’s much more likely to agree to. You can always extend the date by suggesting another activity if things are going great.
Tip #3: Take Control Of The Logistics
Don’t be that guy who asks a girl out, then says “So where do you want to meet?” Talk about tanking your first impression!
If you don’t already have a couple go-to date locations, check out Yelp. (You can always say a friend recommended it if she asks!)
Ideally, your date locations should be conducive to conversation. You don’t want to yell to be heard, or forced to communicate with hand signals – both will make it much tougher to connect.
Places with benches and booths are ideal because you can cozy up against one another, versus a table situation where you have to sit across from each other.
When it comes to when you should meet, give her a choice. For a first date, a weeknight or weekend afternoon keeps the vibe more lowkey. Always offer to meet her there – most safety minded women prefer arranging their own transportation to somewhere public until you’re not a stranger anymore.
Tip #4: Plan Your Date Backward
When you’re choosing the location, keep in mind where you want the date to end. That way, if things are going well, you can prolong the evening by having a second location in mind.
But you want that second location to be convenient to the first, so plan your date backward. Do you want it to end at the jazz club down the street? Your favorite tapas place? Your apartment?
Make sure wherever you grab that cup of coffee or glass of wine is conveniently close to wherever you’d like your evening to end.
Tip #5: Dress For Success
Your date is going to decide relatively quickly whether or not she can imagine herself kissing you. You, of course, want that answer to be “yes.”
While putting some effort into your appearance may seem like obvious advice, a lot of guys could stand a little improvement in the grooming & wardrobe department.
Choose clothes that fit well and are in good shape. Scuffed shoes, frayed hems, stained shirt – all those tiny details you may not even notice will almost definitely get mentally cataloged by her.
You may even want to keep a date outfit handy at the office. Not only will you have fresh clothes if you meet for a drink after work, but the change can help you mentally transition out of work mode so you’re more relaxed.
Make sure you’re dressing appropriately for the venue. You might look great in a three piece suit, but showing up to a dive bar dressed to the nines isn’t going to make you seem classy – it’s going to make you seem weird.
Tip #6: It’s Not Just How You Look…
How you smell plays a huge part in the impression you make. It goes without saying to keep your hygiene in check – deodorant and breath mints exist for a reason – but also make sure you’re not overpowering her (and the room) with a strong cologne.
Tip #7: Get In The Right Mindset
There are a few things you can do to mentally prepare for your date that will help boost your confidence during the date:
- If you’ve got that little voice in your head that says things like “She’s not going to like me” or “I’m going to say the wrong things,” tune it out. Assumptions like that have a way of turning into self-fulfilling prophecies, so keep your thoughts positive.
- Resist the urge to hop on social media to do a little sleuthing. When you don’t know someone well, it’s easy to interpret something you see way out of context. Those incorrect assumptions could easily affect your interactions with her during the date, which could lead to some strained or awkward moments.
- Review her online dating profile and your message history. That little refresher will help you mentally file away some ready made conversational topics, plus remembering little details about her shows you’re genuinely interested. The majority of singles say good conversation is the biggest indicator of great chemistry, so doing a little prep work can pay off big time.
- Bust out a power pose. In a nutshell, people tend to associate different poses with feelings of confidence – like standing with your arms outstretched over your head to celebrate a victory. As the theory goes, if you do the pose without feeling confident, that feeling will naturally show up.
During The Date
Tip #8: Don’t Be Yourself…
A lot of guys want to know how to act on a first date – and “Just be yourself!” is a common answer. But here’s the thing – there’s more than one ‘you’. For starters, there’s the self you are with your friends, with your coworkers, and with your family.
But if you behave on a date how you would when you’re with your bros drinking beer and watching the game, that’s likely not going to leave a good impression.
So don’t just be yourself. Instead, be your best self.
That means mind your language (no f-bombs if you’re prone to casual swearing), don’t neg her, and don’t accidentally insult her either.
There’s a difference between playful teasing and insulting. Don’t take a joke too far at your date’s expense. It can quickly sour the mood, and you don’t want to be that guy who’s sitting there saying, “It’s just a joke!” as she walks out on you.
Also keep a lid on the self-deprecating humor, if that’s your go-to when you’re a bit nervous. Poking fun at yourself a little bit can be ok, but if you over do it you start to come off as sad and desperate.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t be overly complimentary to her, either – for much the same reason. A little compliment goes a long way – if it’s genuine. Make it about something you actually like about her, like something interesting she’s wearing or what specifically you’re enjoying about spending time with her.
Tip #9: Stay Positive
A first date is not the time and place to complain, whether it’s about the weather, traffic, the service or your latest ex and how she wronged you.
Negativity was the #1 conversational buzzkill in a recent singles survey, so stay positive.
But being positive goes deeper than just keeping the conversation upbeat. You also want to feel positive.
If you’re a complete nervous wreck, your date will likely pick up on it thanks to mirror neurons. To get scientific for a minute, those are specialized neurons in your brain that cause you to feel the emotions associated with an action you see another person doing.
For instance if you’re tapping your foot nervously or wringing your hands, your date will see it and start to experience those same feelings of anxiety on some level.
But if you’re relaxed and confident, she’ll pick up on that vibe too – and hopefully start feeling the same way.
If you’re feeling nervous, here are a few things you can try to help put yourself at ease:
- Breathe mindfully. Make each breath out longer than breathing in.
- Name what you’re feeling. Trying to resist being nervous only makes it worse. Instead acknowledge how you’re feeling and move on.
- Remember that the perfect date doesn’t exist, and the fate of the world doesn’t hang in the balance. Whatever happens, happens. Just enjoy the experience!
Tip #10: Stay Off Your Phone
Nothing telegraphs “I’m not that interested in you” more than checking to see who just texted you while she’s in the middle of telling you about her last vacation.
Frequent phone checking is a first date deal breaker for the majority of women, so if that notification buzz is too tempting to resist a peek, do yourself a favor and turn your phone off.
If you’re expecting a legitimately important call, or if you don’t want to drop off the grid because the babysitter may need to get ahold of you, explain that to your date beforehand so she at least knows ahead of time why you’re distracted by your phone.
Tip #11: Focus On Your Date
Turning off your phone is just one way to give her the attention she deserves. Remember, you’re trying to spark a connection and build up some chemistry. If you don’t, the odds of her agreeing to meet you again are slim to none.
One of the easiest ways to permanently douse that spark is checking out the other women in the room. No matter how hot your server or the woman sitting at the bar is, keep your eyes on the person you’re actually there to meet.
As Confucius said, “The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”
Tip #12: Understand Body Language Basics
You don’t want your body language to send the wrong message, so brush up on the basics. Sitting with your arms crossed and your body angled away from your date gives the impression that you’re closed off, nervous or insecure.
Open body language has the opposite effect – you seem more engaged, warm and confident. In fact, one study found that expansive postures like outstretched arms almost doubles your odds of getting her to agree to a second date.
Eye contact also makes a lasting impression. Too little can make you appear disinterested or, worse, dishonest. Too much may make her uncomfortable. If you’re not sure how much is appropriate, take her lead and give her about the same amount.
When you’re not looking at her, try not to look down. Checking out the floor or your shoes can telegraph a lack of confidence, so try to aim your gaze to her side, or glance up.
A light touch can be a powerful way to spark a connection, just take care not to be grabby. Pay attention to her demeanor, and take your cues accordingly.
As your date progresses and you’re enjoying each other’s company, you can start getting closer and make some light contact while she’s laughing or smiling. This is where opting to set next to her as opposed to across the table really works to your advantage.
Avoid making your move as a way to fill an awkward silence, though – that generally won’t go over well.
Tip #13: Be A Good Conversationalist
First off – speak clearly. If you’re one of those people who talk a mile a minute when you’re nervous, try to consciously slow yourself down. Things could start feeling awkward quickly if she can’t quite follow what you’re saying.
And speaking of awkward – slightly uncomfortable silences are totally normal. In fact, 70% of singles reported experiencing them on a typical first date. Doing your prep work and having a mental list of great first date questions will help you reignite the conversation.
Notice that all of the questions in the example above are open-ended questions. Her answers will give you much more to work with than simple yes/no answers, and she’ll get more of a chance to share information about herself.
In general, people love talking about themselves. In fact, researchers have found that it literally makes your brain feel good when you do it – so give her the opportunity! She’ll associate those good feelings with spending time with you, and that’s a win/win scenario.
Of course, your conversation needs to be a two-way street – ideally she’ll learn as much about you as you do about her. Just make sure you’re not “one-upping” her at every opportunity.
For instance, if your date says “I recently got into running and completed my first 5k!”, don’t come back with “Oh, well I just ran my fifth marathon.” You may think you’re finding common ground, but she’s probably starting to wonder if you’re going to treat the entire conversation like a competition.
Tip #14: Treat Your Server Well
How you treat others reveals a glimpse of your true personality, and being rude to the staff is one of the easiest ways to kill the mood… and your chances at getting a second date.
If your food or drink order is wrong, it’s ok to send it back – just be courteous about it. Getting angry or treating the staff like they’re beneath you is not going to make you seem “alpha,” it’s going to make you seem like an a-hole.
And when it comes to tipping – leave one. Whether you’re paying for the date or just splitting the check, you don’t want to give her the impression that you’re a cheapskate.
Tip #15: Know Your Limits
Having a drink can definitely help relieve the first date jitters, but it’s best to limit yourself to a drink or two.
Manners matter, and you don’t want yours to falter as you get your buzz on. Besides, being drunk is not the impression you want to leave your date with.
But this first date tip applies to more than just alcohol. Give yourself permission to end a date if you don’t think it’s going well, rather than letting it drag on and on. Planning an exit strategy beforehand can keep it from being a super awkward moment.
If it’s a weekday evening, an early morning meeting for work is a great excuse for needing to cut the date short. Or if you have a dog, you need to go home to let him out. But whatever excuse you provide, be respectful about it.
You can also give yourself an out by mentioning at the beginning of the date you have plans to meet up with some friends later on that evening, then use that as your reason to leave. You can always “cancel” those plans if the date is going great.
After The Date
Tip #16: Follow Up The Next Day
Don’t text her something like “good night” right after the date, she’ll likely mentally file it under “too much too soon”. You’re not in a relationship – nowhere close. You’re two people who just met for the first time.
If you want to see her again, follow up the next day with a text or call. You don’t want to wait too long, since her initial excitement may wear off – especially if she’s got other dates lined up.
You can even suggest a second date. Think of a fun activity, and ask if she wants to join you on whatever day you’re free.
Don’t just ask something like “hey, are you free on Friday?” Give her a solid idea of what she’d be saying “yes” to first.
Tip #17: Don’t Be Clingy
Texting too much can start to make her feel like responding to you is a chore, and that’s the last thing you want to happen. Get the second date scheduled, then limit yourself to texting when you’ve actually got something interesting to say.
Don’t text her a bunch of compliments, or describe what a great time you had because of X, Y and Z. That can come across as desperate, and rehashing your date like it was the best night of your life gives the impression you don’t go on many of them.
Tip #18: Learn Something
Whether your date was good or bad, you can always learn something from it that will help you moving forward.
So do a little self reflection – what you thought went well, what didn’t, what you would have done differently… you know the drill.
Bad dates can be especially useful learning tools. After a litte deconstruction, you may realize you were accidentally rude, brought up a touchy subject, or tried to move things too fast.
Don't beat yourself up over mistakes, but with each date you can learn something new to make a better impression in the future.
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