It’s spring time and many of us will be going on first dates. Whether it’s with someone you met at a party, a friend set you up, or you decided to invest in a matchmaker, everyone should be dating this time of year.
Let’s face it, first dates can be exhilarating and intriguing, yet a little nerve racking if you haven’t been on the first date circuit in a while. The rules have changed a bit, and it’s not all about avoiding religion, sex and politics as topics anymore.
Here are five tips from the experts on first dates:
1. Don’t talk about your ex. Sure, this is a no-brainer for those of you coming out of a bad breakup. But for others, exes always seem to get brought up. If your date starts bad mouthing his or her ex, move away from the topic by politely saying “it sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I’m glad we’re getting to know each other. Shall we order?” Yes, sympathizing with your date is easy, and jumping on the “bad mouthing bandwagon” is even easier. Learn to comfortably move on – the date is about the two of you and NOT about the past. That said, don’t go to the other extreme and mention that you are friends with all your exes. It’s great to maintain friendship, but it may intimidate your date or make him/her feel like you can’t make the step from friends to lovers, because you might secretly still be holding on to the past. Take my advice and avoid the “ex” talk all together.
2. Don’t be lazy -- first impressions are really important. Remember, many people judge someone within a few seconds of meeting them. You’re going on a date, so dress to impress her/him. If you don't have a big sense of style, it’s fine, but don't be that guy/gal on a date wearing a stained/wrinkled/old/untucked/outdated shirt. A first date is like a job interview – be presentable and plan for the date, according to location, time, and ambiance. Google the restaurant to make sure you are dressed appropriately. Weekend dates are dressier, especially over dinner. A general rule? No athletic gear/hoodies/tennis shoes, especially white ones, for evening dates. (Also, no shorts on a first date, ever.) Show your date you took the time to be well groomed/ironed/lip balmed or glossed – first impressions go far.
3. Don’t get drunk. Yes, a cocktail sounds nice when you’ve got the first date jitters, but we are still in the first impression stage at this point. If you are comfortable not drinking, go for it, but you should limit yourself to a two drink max on a first date. Don’t make the impression that you are a lush when maybe you’re just calming your nerves! Engage and get to know your date. If the conversation is interesting, the last thing on your mind should be getting another martini before happy hour is over. If you are throwing back drinks, words start flying out of your mouth more freely, which you may regret. At the end of the night or the next day, you don't want to think, “What did I say to her/him? Why doesn’t (s)he want to see me again?”
4. Engage your date, don’t interview. Being in the dating industry for many years now, it’s very clear to me that some people like to “interview” their dates, especially when meeting for the first time. Yes, asking questions is good, but drilling questions one after the other, or working hard to make sure (s)he checks everything off your “list” is bad. Regardless of chemistry, this will probably kill your chances of see in this person again. Your conversation needs to flow – think of questions beforehand that will spark a discussion (avoid politics/sex!). Note your body language during the chat. Eye contact is always a plus, but don’t stare. Don’t cross your arms or slump in your chair. Also, watch your language and don't talk about yourself the whole time. Yes, you may have an awesome job and have all the accolades in the world, but listen to yourself. Everyone hates name droppers. Confident is good, arrogance is not!
5. Don't go somewhere you can't afford. Dating can be expensive. A huge turn off would be if you agree to go out and then complain about the prices. No one likes a cheap person, so set the expectation right. Taking someone to the finest restaurant in the city is not going to impress him/her if you complain about the check in the end. Date within your means. Have a few restaurant names in your back pocket to suggest if your date wants to move from a drink to dinner, and you realize ordering a main dish at that restaurant will max out your Visa.
Bottom line? Be yourself. No one wants to date a shell of who you really are (especially a drunk, cheap, disheveled shell). There is someone out there for everyone, so practice your first date skills and get out there!