First dates can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re about to head out on a blind date or a dating app date. With the booming popularity of dating apps, it’s no longer unusual to head out on a date with a total stranger. But, this may make you even more nervous before the big date because someone can seem funny, nice, and interesting over the internet but may end up being very different in person.
If you’re concerned, be sure to let a friend know ahead of time where you are going and what you are doing. That way, if the date goes south fast, you can have a back-up plan for how to leave. For the most part, though, first dates can be fun and exciting. Here’s our best advice on how to make a great first impression.
Have a Plan for the Date
In the past, people tend to think that the guy has to ask a girl out on a date, but, with changing gender stereotypes and the proliferation of online dating apps like Bumble where the girl has to start the conversation, either person can initiate the meeting. The most important thing is to have a plan.
If you ask someone that you’re interested in to go out on a date, tell them exactly what the date entails—like going to see live music or grabbing a drink at an interesting bar. This takes some of the pressure off of the other person to think of a unique activity and eliminates the mystery that can often cause anxiety.
Try to make your date interesting but also do something that allows you to get to know each other better. Going to a movie for a first date is a poor idea because you don’t have the chance to talk, and you end up sitting there thinking more about what you’re going to say when the movie ends than what is actually happening in the movie.
Save the movie dates for later in your relationship. Dinner dates are also really common but tend to put a lot of pressure on both parties. Instead, try suggesting some fun first date ideas like getting a drink at an arcade bar, visiting an art gallery, or going to a comedy show.
This may sound like an obvious tip, but you want to dress to impress before the big date—but it’s also important not to overdress. Keep in mind where you’re going—you don’t want to show up at a casual bar decked out in a full suit. In fact, wearing a full suit or a fancy cocktail dress is almost never appropriate for a first date unless you’re going somewhere really fancy (which we also don’t recommend as it adds too much pressure).
Keep it casual, but don’t show up looking like a slob in your sweatpants or the same dirty white tee you wear around the house. Add some fun accessories like a subtle men’s gold chain or women’s unique dangle earrings. This can show off your sense of style and give you a put-together look.
Give a Handshake or Hug
Those first few moments of meeting someone new can feel really awkward, but the more confident you act, the less awkward you’ll seem. When you arrive for the date, walk right up to the person and either shake their hand or give them a hug and say something a little flirty like “So nice to finally meet you!” Before you arrive, decide whether you’re going to go for a handshake or a hug, though, so you don’t end up doing one of those awkward half handshake/ half side-hug exchanges.
Ask a Lot of Questions About the Other Person
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck on a date with someone who only wants to talk about themselves the entire time. Of course, it’s important to talk about yourself at some points during the date because you’re both trying to get to know each other better, but don’t hog the conversation.
The best way to avoid over talking about yourself is to ask questions—and a lot of them. The great part about meeting someone for the first time is that there is an endless number of questions you can ask them. Where did you grow up? What do you do for work? What kind of hobbies do you have? Hopefully, you’ll both discover something you have in common, which can lead to more in-depth conversations.
Offer to Pay for Something
On a first date, offering to pay is a polite way to make the other person feel special. However, you shouldn’t expect your date to pay. Some more traditional people tend to believe that the man should always pay on a date. If you buy into this mentality, that’s perfectly fine—he’ll probably offer to pay anyways—but, it’s only polite and courteous to offer to pay for something back.
Many times, if the date went well, you’ll both want to keep it going and grab a drink at a bar or do some other kind of activity. If the other person paid for the first half of the date, why not offer to buy a round of drinks at the next place? Guys, you should pay attention to this, too. Your date may not be expecting you to pay, but it always makes a good impression when you offer.
Follow These Tips for the Perfect First Date
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. First dates are supposed to be a fun, new experience. Be sure to dress nicely before leaving the house and throw on some cool accessories like a gold chain or bangle bracelets, and then be confident when you greet each other.
The most important part of making a great impression is to act interested by asking a lot of questions and genuinely listening to the other people. The more engaged you are, the better the conversation will be, assuming that the other person is making the same type of effort. One last thing before you head out for your date: Try to stay off your phone as much as possible.
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