Coming off a long relationship or even a marriage? Young enough to be pretty new to the whole dating scene? Here are some tips for successfully navigating the perils of a first date, which at times can seem like a complex mating dance—after all, it kinda is! Happily, a lot of headaches and heartaches are easily avoided.
Ask about Eating Habits in Advance
Finding out your date is a vegan when you already have reservations at a steakhouse is not a fun experience. Feeling like a jerk because you can’t eat anything at the restaurant isn’t fair, either. If dinner could be involved, discuss dietary restrictions, your favorite cuisines and pertinent food-poisoning stories so that the evening’s dining destination is approved by both parties. Guy or girl, make sure you have the conversation.
Sync up Your Style
Make sure you and your date are on the same page about where you’re going and how fancy to dress. It’s embarrassing to both of you when someone goes formal and the other shows up in a T-shirt and jeans. Or someone’s bundled up for a windy night and the other thought you’d be indoors the whole time. Avoid the awkward jokes and guilty feelings by planning ahead.
If You Like What You See, Flirt
First, for the ladies. Most girls know how to make eyes at a guy, but not all—don’t be shy if you want to send the message that things are moving in the right way. There are a million moments that can call for you to reach out and briefly touch his arm—this small connection isn’t a commitment but it creates a sense of physical comfort between you. Also, if you want him to kiss you at the end of the night, there’s no better way invitation than holding his hand at some point. This sends the message that you’re welcoming physical contact.
Guys, the more chivalrous and gentlemanly you are, the more it makes you seem interested in her. Show that you value her by going out of your way with the little things. Compliment her wherever possible. The most flirty compliments are about physical attributes, but keep it classy—if you’re going to allude to her womanly attributes, do so only indirectly.
Put Your Listening Hat on
No, I don’t mean wear a funny hat at the dinner table, but rather that you should ask questions to prompt your date to open up, and focus on what’s said rather than what to say next. Look for follow-up questions and make pertinent comments. The wittier the better, just keep it positive. Guys, most girls don’t want to date a guy who thinks he’s a standup comic, so don’t recite jokes and don’t turn everything into one.
Something for both genders to remember is not to tie everything your date says back to yourself, unless it shows a real commonality, or is something you’re eager to talk about. The bottom line is to make your date really feel heard. Man or woman, old or young, everyone likes that feeling!
Avoid T.M.I. (Too Much Information)
Maybe your acid reflux is acting up or your ex called yesterday and you’re upset about that, but keep in mind that not everything on your personal radar is good fodder for first date conversation. Also, everybody’s made mistakes in their lives, but this is not the time to reveal your drug conviction or tell the story of how you got fired from your job for stealing office supplies. If your most entertaining stories don’t paint you in the best light, save them. Even when we’re really giving our date a chance, it’s human nature to make snap judgments based on the info at hand. While a little vulnerability is attractive and bragging definitely isn’t, keep your filter on for the first date and save the secrets for later.
While I hope you consider these tips a solid lesson or a valuable refresher course, please don’t overthink it. Being natural, authentic and aware is better than obsessing over your behavior or how things are going. It’s not only more attractive an attitude, it will help you be yourself. And being yourself is how you’re going to connect with your soul mate.