The prospect of falling in love is exciting, but let’s face it, the dating part of it all can be daunting. From worrying about making a good impression to awkward silences filled by even more awkward small talk, first dates are scary territory.
The key is not to think of it as an “interview” where you figure out if you’re into the other person and vice versa, but to make it a memorable shared experience.
We’ve consulted Dr. Nikki Goldstein, a sexologist and relationship expert, for the best tips for making the experience less painful, and more enjoyable.
Be on time
While it may be fashionable to arrive late to a party, it's not OK to be tardy for a date. Being on time shows you’re organised and reliable, but most importantly, it shows that you’re considerate of others. Waiting for someone on your own can also heighten the nerves associated with a first date.
“You can be 10 to 15 mins late but anything past that might seem rude or as though you don't really care about the date,” says Goldstein. “But being too early might seem too eager as well.” If you’re going to be late due to traffic, give the other person a courtesy call to let them know you haven’t stood them up.
“Talking too much about an ex is not advisable but no matter what the subject is try and keep it positive and interesting whilst not giving away all of your life's secrets."
Picking the right place
Before choosing the location of the date, think about what type of date you’d like it to be. “If you have been chatting for some time and are serious then a nice restaurant might be perfect to send the message it's proper dating,” says Nikki.
“If it's a casual hookup type of date then opt for a bar or a movie night. But if you’re still in the stage of determining whether you’d like a serious date, Goldstein suggests meeting for “a casual coffee somewhere during the day or a glass of wine after work.”
Avoid pre-date stalking
Don’t seek out your date’s social media accounts prior to the date. “Sometimes a Google search is better to make sure they are not some sort of criminal but often people project something false on social media,” Goldstein advises. “That false projection might be where you base your first impression from. It's always better if you can help it to get to know someone in person, not by their social media accounts.”
You’ll have the entire date, and future dates if things work out, to find out about the other person. Refrain from doing the pre-date stalk and you’ll have a more exciting date.
Keep conversation light
Aside from the natural spark and chemistry between you and your date, conversation is one of the most important factors of a successful first date. According to Nikki, the advice to avoid talking about money, sex, religion or politics on a first date has become an outdated idea. Instead, she says to “gauge the subject depending on the date.
“Talking too much about an ex is not advisable but no matter what the subject is try and keep it positive and interesting whilst not giving away all of your life's secrets,” says Nikki.
“If someone wants to see you again they will say so or will make plans to see you.”
Don’t push for a second date
Sometimes if you’re very fond of your date, it can be tempting to broach the topic of a second date too early on. “If someone wants to see you again they will say so or will make plans to see you,” says Nikki. “Let that conversation run naturally if you can help it. If he doesn't make any effort for another date or even ghost you, then it's safe to say that it just wasn't the right mix.”
Don’t lead the other person on
More often than not, a first date can reaffirm you just haven’t found “the one”. But what can you do if the other person is interested in pursuing a relationship while you’re just not that into it?
“I don't like the idea of ghosting [a dating term used to describe cutting off contact with someone you’re no longer interested in without a clear explanation] but I do think there is a way to kindly express disinterest,” says Goldstein
“Not being too available or always answering the phone might help send that message you are just not keen but if the other person persists you might have to have an awkward conversation.”