You have ONE first date that either opens or shuts the door for a second date. This is the time to make a great impression. The potential to connect with someone and begin to get to know them can be thrilling and at the same time anxiety-provoking. There are a few common sense things you can do to help insure a successful first date that leads to a second one. There are also things that you should avoid doing on a first date and some of them may not seem so obvious. Setting yourself up for a successful date takes some thought and a little effort.
The Dating Do’s
The following list includes some of the common sense first date “Do’s”. If you keep these things in mind when you meet a woman for the first time, there is a good chance that if the connection is there, you will get to see her again.
- Calm Your Nerves: If you are anxious find something that calms your nerves such as working out before the date. Not only will you feel more relaxed, you will look better too.
- Dress to Impress: First impressions matter. Spend time on grooming, smelling good and dressing well.
- Coffee or Wine: Have the first date be a shorter date, either coffee or wine. If for some reason the date goes bad, you are only committed for a short amount of time and you have an escape route. If things go well, you can always stay longer.
- Show up on time (or a few minutes early): Never keep the woman waiting. Tardiness sets the tone for the rest of the date and it can set you up for failure. If for some reason you will be late, call her and let her know you are on your way. This will show you are responsible, considering her time, and making the effort to arrive as soon as possible. Although being considerate of her time is great if you are going to be late, the real point here is simply don’t be late for a first date.
- Be a Gentleman: Even though we are in the “women are equal” time period, still be respectful by opening the door, pulling out the chair, and/or paying for the date.
- Put your cell phone away: Checking text messages or (god help you) answering a call while you are on a first date indicates that you have something better you’d like to be doing. Turn you phone to silent and put it out of sight. If you really need to check your messages, do it in the restroom.
- Pay her a compliment: When it comes to compliments, simple is better. “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing”, or ”You have beautiful eyes”, can win you some points. Women like to hear that a man finds her attractive. Be careful not to take it too far. Statement s like, “Wow, you are really hot!” can send the wrong message and even feel somewhat aggressive to a woman.
- Ask Questions: Find the common interests by asking questions about her. This is the time to simply see if you two would be a good fit for another date. Ask open-ended questions.
- Share About You: Don’t simply keep the conversation focused on her. Open up and share about your interests, hobbies, or travel journeys. Be transparent.
- Joke: Break the ice by joking and sharing funny (yet appropriate) stories.
- Eye Contact: Looking a woman in her eyes is a MUST! But don’t get into a staring contest or get too intense. That can just make things awkward.
- Enjoy the Night: Don’t over think the date! Enjoy yourself. You deserve to have a great time. Don’t expect to find your soul mate or get discouraged if you don’t feel an instant connection with her. If the date is not a total disaster, there is often potential for a second one. A decent first date can lead to a great second date.
- Be honest: If you don’t feel a connection with her, politely let her know. “I’ve had a great time talking to you tonight, but I don’t think we are a good romantic match.” This goes a long way. Often times, if you’re not feeling it neither is she. However, if you get the sense that she is into you and you have no intention of seeing her again, it is better to let her know. This way you don’t have to spend two weeks dodging her phone calls. Be sure to be polite!
The Dating Don’ts:
And now for the “Don’ts”. You can ruin a potentially great first date pretty quickly if you are not paying attention so these are pretty important points.
- Don’t Ask Her out Via Text or Email: With this day and age, we have so much use of technology that the “easy button” is to simply send a text. Man-up by picking up the phone and asking her on the date. This shows courage and genuine interest. It can make her feel like you are looking for more than just a “good time”.
- Don’t Pre-Drink: This is not the way to calm anxiety before a date. Women don’t usually like meeting a guy and finding out that he had to drink in order to get up the nerve to meet her.
- NEVER expect her to get in your Car: Suggest that you meet her for the date in a place that you both agree on. Don’t offer to pick her up. You know that you are safe, but she doesn’t. If you two decide to move the date to another location, ask her how she’d like to get there. Let her lead in her comfort level and make her feel safe.
- Televisions around are NO-NOs! Watching television or having too much distraction is where the date can become a disaster quickly. Avoid going to a place with televisions on your first date. It will be too tempting to watch TV or get distracted and will send a message to the woman that you aren’t interested.
- Avoid Airing Your Dirty Laundry: Okay guys, don’t unload your entire life all at once. Slow is better. Don’t share TOO much about your ex, your childhood wounds, or your recent breakup. Share just enough to engage in conversation and find common interests to start conversations. For example: don’t share about a trauma or your family feud.
- Avoid too much Booze: If you are having a glass of wine or alcohol, make it a 2 drink MAXIMUM! Don’t overdo it. You must present yourself at your best. Too much alcohol can be a turn-off on a first date.
- Don’t try to puff out your chest: You may feel a lot of pressure to impress her, but sometimes men puff out their chest too much. Women can sense when a man is not being genuine. They often get put-off by the fakeness. Be yourself. If she agreed to go out with you typically it’s because she found something about you interesting. Put your best foot forward, but don’t over do it. If things are going to work out it will be because she appreciates who you really are.
- Don’t be Afraid of the Silences: On every first date there may be what seems like awkward silences. If the conversation wanes for a moment or two, don’t get nervous. Give her a moment to regroup and see if she comes up with something to talk about. No worries if she is quite. That doesn’t mean she is not interested in you. She may just be shy. Take control of the conversation with some questions about her (Where are you from? Do you have siblings? How did you get started in your career?) Or share a story about your favorite restaurant in town. Take the opportunities to let her know you are interested in learning more about her.
- Avoid topics that may make her uncomfortable: A guy can go from “normal” to “creepy” in no time at all if he starts talking about the wrong thing. As a man it’s best not to bring up topics like sex, how much money you earn, or the fact that you are “really trustworthy and she shouldn’t be worried about being alone with you”. Those types of conversations, if brought up by you can turn a woman off and sometimes even make her fearful. Always remember that you don’t know this person or what her personal experiences have been. You want to steer clear of becoming creepy-guy because that will insure no second date.
- Don’t Expect A Kiss: You are on your first date and sometimes they don’t include kissing. If it happens naturally between you then go with it. However a woman may need a few dates before she is ready to kiss you. Don’t get discouraged. Offer a hug at the end of the date. If you are interested in seeing her again, let her know. Waiting for the second or third date for your first kiss can be romantic.
Keep in mind that these tips are for men who are looking to date a woman with the potential for developing a relationship. This kind of first date is different than going out with a woman with whom you are interested in “just having fun”. There is nothing wrong with looking for a something fun that doesn’t necessarily lead to a substantial relationship. However, it is a very different intention than looking to build something with someone and therefore requires different strategy. Being prepared, being thoughtful, and putting forth a little effort can put you on the path for a great second date.
Guest Co-Author: Dani Graziano, MFT
Dani Graziano, MFT earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University. In her more than 5 years of practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist, she has worked with diverse populations including At-Risk Youth and Military Families. Currently Dani is in private practice in San Diego, CA, working with adults and couples, helping them create change and improve their relationships.