It’s all well and good to talk about finding love everlasting, but the truth is, you might end up having more than one first date on your journey. That’s not a bad thing. A lot of people view dating as some kind of grueling ordeal, and dread the first date more than any other, but there is a way to make the first date fun, as well as get you closer to finding the person who will inspire you to finally call off the search.
Here are some things you can do to make your first date fantastic.
1. Plan something specific.
This seems obvious, but far too many daters complain that they are being asked out by indecisive people. So, to avoid the dreaded, “I don’t know, what do YOU want to do?” have a plan ready before you ask. If you’re a guy, it makes you look decisive and competent; if you’re a girl, you won’t seem like a high-maintenance princess.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, it’s better when first dates are simple. You won’t have the pressure of going to a fancy and expensive restaurant and worrying about the conversation limping along if you plan a walk in the park instead, and grab a drink at the end if things are going well. In addition, inexpensive is good if you’re doing a lot of dating.
One of the biggest problems with the build-up to a first date is that we often let our fantasies get the best of us. We wonder and hope that this person will be “the one.” Based on what we’ve heard about them, or their dating profiles, we imagine they will be perfect for us.
There is really nothing worse than feeling let down when you’re first meeting someone, but this can be avoided simply by keeping in mind that, until you’ve spent significant time with a person, you don’t know them at all. Everything you imagine and fantasise about is pure speculation. It’s hard to have fun and be relaxed when you’re wondering if the person sitting in front of you is your dream come true. The answer is- it’s much too soon to say.
You’ll have a lot more fun if you simply look at a first date as a chance to meet someone new and have a good time. If it doesn’t go anywhere after that, you will not be broken-hearted. They are still a stranger.
3. Dress appropriately
This one seems obvious, but we’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people turning up to dates in dirty, torn, or otherwise inappropriate clothing. When you show up looking awful, it looks like you don’t respect yourself, or your date. It’s really just basic politeness to dress appropriately for the occasion.
If getting all gussied up is not your style; that’s fine. Just don’t agree to a date at any venue that is completely outside your comfort zone. We’re all about trying new things, but the first date should be someplace where you can relax. You can wear comfortable clothes and still look nice, and you don’t need a whole new wardrobe. Just a few items that are in good condition and look relatively current are sufficient.
4. Turn off your phone
Aside from doctors and fire-fighters who are on call, no one needs to have their phone on during a date. If you have children, they shouldn’t have to call you unless there’s an emergency, and you can leave it on vibrate for that.
We hear far too many tales of people incessantly checking their phones, texting their friends, and even making phone calls while ignoring their date. It may be common, but it’s disrespectful. Focus on the person sitting across from you. The whole point of meeting is to get to know each other, after all.
5. Make interesting conversation
This can be a challenge, and having difficulty keeping the conversation flowing can be a sign of incompatibility. Or it can simply mean that you’re shy or a bit nervous. If you’re not much of a small-talker, dates are a great way to practice talking to someone you don’t know much about.
A lot of daters make the mistake of talking about themselves too much, or asking so many questions so close together, it seems like an interrogation. Remember that a good conversation has some give and take. Aim to learn as much as you can about the other person. If they have the same goal, you’ll be in good shape.
Behavioural economist Dan Ariely recommends bringing up a controversial topic, like something around politics or religion. While that is sometimes frowned upon as making the other person uncomfortable, Ariely argues that “risky” conversations are more interesting, and you’ll learn a lot more about the other person discussing abortion or the death penalty than you will from asking mundane questions about their job or their favorite color.
You’ll get to see how your values align, and also if they are capable of debating a thorny issue without becoming insulting or losing their temper. Don’t do this however, if you already know you can’t have a civil discussion with someone who disagrees with you. Your aim to to make the date memorable in a good way; not turn it into a shouting match over coffee.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking this approach, come up with a few other topics you can discuss. If you met online, you probably already have at least a few interests in common. Start with those, and you’ll probably find more.
6. If you want another date, say so
Too many relationships never get off the ground because neither party is willing to make the first move and admit they like the other person. On a first date, you’re really risking very little, and have nothing to lose by saying that you’d like a second date. Sure, there’s a momentary let-down if the other person doesn’t feel the same way, but if you’ve kept your expectations reasonable, it should only be a very minor disappointment.
You don’t have to set up something specific right away, but let them know you want to see them again, and then be the one to follow up. Don’t waste days waiting for the other person to go first. You don’t have to be a pest, or chase someone who’s not interested, but if you had a good time on your first meet, chances are you weren’t the only one, and there’s no point in putting off a second date.
The first date can be nerve-wracking, but if you follow the steps above, you can turn it into an enjoyable experience.