It goes without saying how important a first date is. Whether you have known some for a while, or you have only spoken to them on one of the many dating sites, it’s that crucial opportunity to show someone who you really are for the first time, while hoping that you’ll both leave wanting a second date. Many of us go into a first date fantasizing about the possibilities of what it could turn into, and it’s natural to be excited about what that best-case scenario could be.
There are tons of first date guides out there, but how many have you read that didn’t really help you to feel confident going into an important first date? It’s possible that you think all of these “how-to guides” don't hold much water, since you can do everything right — and yet, if there's no chemistry, none of it matters.
But while it’s undeniable that you’re way ahead of the game if you happen to have chemistry with each other, if you combine that phenomenal chemistry with an outstanding first date, you'll be off to an incredible start. Your feelings of chemistry will feed off a truly fantastic first date, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running. That’s why this article is about achieving an incredible first date. The chemistry isn't something we can help with - you’ll either have it or you won’t – but we can definitely help you when it comes to first impressions, great first dates and the right questions to ask on a date. This way, if you do happen to have chemistry, it’s not wasted on the wrong circumstances. Here is our ultimate first date guide:
Don't Fake It
Season 11’s star of The Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe, can certainly speak to the importance of first impressions and first dates. She felt chemistry with now-fiancé Shawn Booth from the very beginning, but she also placed a high importance on the first date. Bristowe told me that it’s especially important to find out if someone likes you for who you truly are: “First impressions are everything, but I don’t think anyone should ever try to put on an act in an attempt to seem appealing to someone, because it’s also your opportunity to see if they like you for you who are. That’s why honesty and staying true to yourself are important while making a first impression."
One of the many issues with pretending to be something you’re not on a first date in an effort to impress someone is that the truth always comes out eventually. Wouldn’t you rather find out if your date likes the real you? You simply can’t go wrong with authenticity and openness.
Be Mentally Prepared
Being mentally and physically ready for your date is going to help you immensely when it comes to presenting your best self. Relationship expert April Masini agrees. “Being yourself is a given, but being your best self requires some preparation. If you show up for the date with a hangover, or without having showered or dressed nicely, you’ve given yourself a handicap in terms of making a good first impression.
Now, you’ll have to overcome those deficits it win her over, which is possible — but it’s much simpler if you’re just prepared for the date in the first place.” Always try to get a good night’s sleep the night before a first date, just like you would the night before an important job interview.
Reserve The Entire Evening
If you’re going on a first date, reserve the entire entire evening for your date. Commit to the idea that you might end up having so much fun getting to know each other that the hours will fly by. This is of the utmost importance because a first date should never be rushed. If you set up a date for 7 p.m. but you also make other plans for 9 p.m., you’ll end up insulting your date when you cut things short. Marie Cosnard, head of trends at dating app Happn advises “Don’t take a first date for granted. This is your opportunity to discover each other, which is why the best first dates are long — not rushed.”
You’ll get bonus points if you reserve a Friday or Saturday evening for her, because everyone knows that’s like winning the lottery of date nights. I’m always thrilled when I get offered a prime date night such as a Saturday night, rather than being slotted in for a weeknight.
Dress To Impress
A first date is a special event, and while it’s not necessary to dress super formal, it is important to be well-dressed. Nice denim with a button up is fantastic, and it’s actually the shoes that are one of the the most important things to pay attention to. April Masini attests “Women definitely notice shoes, and it’s worth your time and money to invest in a few pairs of really good shoes that suit your style and your budget. Wearing nice shoes sends her the message that you’re socially adept and smart enough to know how to dress yourself well. Show her that you ‘get it’ and that you don’t need to be taken shopping.”
What goes hand-in-hand with dressing well? Smelling good. Make sure you shower, shave, floss and take those necessary steps to smell good.
A connection is more easily established when a woman feels that the man she’s on a date with is engaged in the conversation. Your phone should not be visible, and you should definitely stay off of any hookup sites. You should be listening actively and asking follow-up questions to show your interest. Make eye contact, laugh at her jokes and don’t allow the conversation to be one-sided. Know which questions should be avoided (don’t talk about marriage, exes or income) and know which questions will push the conversation in the right direction.
If you’re the guy who doesn’t check his phone (not even once) during the the entire date, and takes a genuine interest in what she has to say, you’ll stand out. This is what separates a great first date from a mediocre one: engagement.
Keep Things Light And Fun
Ideal first date locations include places with background noises or subtle distractions. For example, choose a relatively busy restaurant with good music or a cool view. Even better is a venue with an open mic night, karaoke or stand-up comedy. The benefit of these types of venues is that they put you at ease, they take the edge off the first-date nerves and allow you to just relax and be yourself. This laid-back atmosphere promotes authenticity compared to a quiet and intimate dinner in a fancy restaurant which could come off as forced or pretentious.
While this one is potentially fraught, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your date how long her longest relationship was or whether she’s been dating in the past year. It’s useful for you to know if she’s a serial monogamist or a commitment phobe, so try to gauge this without appearing as though you want to rifle through her entire relationship history.
Choose a restaurant you can afford, or an activity that doesn’t cost too much money. You may not want to invest too much cash until you’re sure about the other person, which is fair enough — but that’s why it’s important to choose the first date venue yourself so that you have some control over how much the evening will cost. For the most part it's also really common practice to each pay their own way. Do what works best for you both.
Take Note Of What Worked (And What Didn’t)
The final tip in this first date guide is to take mental notes of what works and what doesn’t on a first date. Try out new and different first-date ideas from time to time and keep track of which ideas were genius and which were lackluster. If your date really enjoyed one of the activities you planned (or did not enjoy it) keep note of that. This information will come in handy when you’re planning the second date.
What's Coming Up In The Next Week
Toward the end of the date, a good way to round off the night is by asking what she has planned for the week ahead. It’s a comfortable conversation to have while you’re strolling back to her car or apartment or wherever, and if the date’s gone well, this is a clever way to factor yourself in for a second date!
There are no hard and fast rules to what you should talk about on first dates, but the above topics will keep the date lively without veering too far into controversial territory. Feel free to address other topics that arise naturally or that you’re curious about, but remember that the thornier stuff can wait until later, when you’re really getting to know each other.