It can be a nerve racking event for even the most experienced dater – getting ready to meet a potential love interest for the first time. You may have connected online and spent time messaging and talking to them – but meeting face to face is an entirely different experience. First impressions count, and both of you will want to see if there’s any chemistry.
So if you tend to get overwhelmed by the first date experience, follow these steps to give you a better chance of success:
1) Choose a familiar location
You’ll have plenty of time to take your date to new and exotic locations, but on a first date it’s best to go somewhere that you know and feel comfortable with. Perhaps look at brunch or lunch rather than dinner, as there’s less pressure. Arrive early and settle in so that you can remain calm and you’re not rushing and getting yourself flustered. Do your research and give yourself every chance to have a first date in a place that doesn’t create stress or anxiety for you.
2) Wear a confident outfit
The first date is not the time to be experimenting with your wardrobe and overall look. Rather, choose to wear something that you feel really confident in and have worn previously when you’ve wanted to make an impact. You want to feel great and be present with your date, rather than worrying about a new outfit that makes you feel self-conscious.
3) Smile and give them eye contact
Smile when you’re with your new date and look them in the eye. Show them that you’re interested in them and that you’re focused on what they’re saying. It will encourage a greater connection, it gives you a sense of warmth, and makes them feel special.
4) Put down your phone
I realize that in today’s world the phone plays a major role in everyone’s life, but it must be contained on a first date. You will ruin things with your love interest and make them feel unimportant, and frustrated if you constantly check your phone, answer calls or jump on Facebook. Leave it alone when you’re out on your first date, put it on silent, turn it face down, throw it in your bag, and instead focus on staying present and being with them during this experience.
5) Ask questions
People always enjoy talking about themselves so break the ice and ask questions to your first date. If you tend to freeze up, then have a couple up your sleeve that you can call on to get the ball rolling. Being a good communicator will make a great impression on this new person, so take the time to get to know them and find out about what makes them tick (e.g. career/ job, likes, friends, goals for this year, what do they look forward to etc.)
6) Respect their personal space
Everyone will have different ideas about personal space – but you need to be respectful and not crowd your new date. That means hold back on touching or stroking them, standing up against them, playing with their hair – and instead let things slowly evolve. You need to feel safe with each other before moving into their space, so take their lead and be patient.
7) Limit your drinking
One of the quickest ways you can calm down in a stressful dating situation is to have a few drinks – quickly. Beware of doing this on the first date as it can completely backfire and see you lose control. Instead, pace your drinking, by all means relax and have fun, but know your limit and stay in control of yourself at all times.
8) Be complimentary
A first date is a great opportunity to make your new love interest feel desired and appreciated. You don’t want to go overboard with this and become desperate, but certainly give out some compliments when you think it’s appropriate. Chances are, they’ve come from previous relationships where this has long since disappeared, so it will be a nice change for them to hear it.
9) Express interest in a future catch-up
You don’t want to come on too strong in terms of urgently pushing to see them again, but it’s a good idea nearing the end of the date to express an gentle interest in a follow-up date. We’re not talking about the next day – but perhaps a catch-up later in the week. Just enough for them to know that you were impressed by them and want to see more!
10) Send a follow-up text
After the first date has ended, and you’re sitting at home on cloud 9, it’s always thoughtful to send a thank you text. It shows that you’re thinking of them, you’re polite, you had a great time, and that you’re keen to see them again in the future.
John Aiken, Findsomeone’s dating and relationship expert, as seen on the hit TV 3 show Married At First Sight. He is a best selling author, appears regularly on TV, radio and in magazines, is a clinical psychologist and runs a private practice in Sydney, is a sought after speaker, and offers intensive couples retreats. (www.johnaiken.com.au)