Whether your dating life is beginning to look like a sadistic and hopeless ground-hog day, or your lack of practice has you a little wild around the eyes — fret not — for you have come to the right place!
This is a general, all-purpose guide (with the occasional gem — even if I do say so myself) aimed at providing just about anyone some important first date tips, particularly when it comes to avoiding timeless blunders, red flags and pitfalls. Chin up, chest out and on with the show!
Stop The Trouble Talk
Nothing douses the fire of attraction quicker than the promise of baggage. While this does not mean pulling a one-night impersonation of a boundless optimist, first dates are a teaser of things to come, and if the trailer is littered with insecurity, self-pity and bitterness (even if you are not any of these things you run of the risk of being judged as such), not many will want to stick around for the feature. If things pan out, conversations will naturally meander towards the fragile, pulsating core of our existence, but for the time being focus on creating rapport, having fun and getting to know the other person.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Pushed Around
I have always made the debateable claim that attraction and respect come independently of being highly likable — no matter how great a catch you have in front of you, it is imperative that you remember you have value. This serves two immediate purposes:
- In the short term you are creating a tangible amount of value and attraction (nobody likes a pushover, be a challenge).
- In the long-term you are not pigeonholing yourself into an unnaturally submissive and censored role.
This does not entail being arrogant, overly cocky or condescending, it simply means being as transparent and honest as possible. If you don’t agree, simply don’t agree, and better yet, do it with a smile!
Keep It Short
A successful date is one which was fun, exciting but also naturally progresses to another meeting. In short (no pun intended), it must feel as if it wasn’t just quite long enough. An exhaustive candle-light dinner may initially seem like a better chance at getting to know someone, but that is precisely why it isn’t a fantastic first date idea. You don’t want them to know you off by heart! You want your partner in crime to wonder about you, to miss you and to think of you. As crass as it may sound, familiarity often breeds contempt — give it time and give it space.
Know When To Listen
I am often convinced that the greatest threat in dates is that of being far too focused on what’s being said or over-thinking our own narrative. When it comes to communication, studies have proven that non-verbal body language accounts for the vast-majority of conversation. Drowning ourselves in self-judgement and criticism severely impacts our ability to be creative and transparent.
Learning to be comfortable in silence is not only a telling sub-conscious sign of internal strength and confidence, it is also a way to let our date feel heard and validated. Make your feedback count by eliminating the babble and radiate confidence and intelligence by knowing when to speak. As a general rule of thumb, speak when spoken to and initiate when you have something to say. If the silence is becoming awkward, an attempt at humor (even bad jokes are funny in their own way) is an evergreen win-win solution.
Do Your Homework On Body Language
I will never tire of stressing the importance of body language in first-dates. Unfortunately, an article on body language is far to complex and lengthy to outline in it’s entirety here, but try your best to adhere to the following principles:
- An open posture – In order to appear confident consciously “unfold” or open your posture. This will make you more approachable, fun and likable. Expose your palms, point your shoulders and knees towards you date, smile and relax. Avoid slouching, a monotonous droning voice and crossing your legs.
- Touchy Feely – Establishing a physical relationship as well as an intellectual one can catalyze attraction — but don’t overdo it! If your date says something funny, touch them casually and read their reaction carefully. If they don’t reciprocate the touch at some point, they may be uncomfortable with it at this time, so be sparse and wait for it (it doesn’t always mean they aren’t attracted, it may simply mean they aren’t entirely comfortable with it yet). If they do casually reciprocate, it is a very good sign you’re onto something above and beyond a chit-chat.
- Mirroring – Lovers do it, babies do it, best friends do it — that’s right, they copy each other! Mirroring is a fantastic way to make a person trust you and feel “in sync” with you artificially. Even if it is artificial on your part, mirror their tone of voice, breathing and body language and watch the fireworks. You’ll thank me late!
Not all dates are destined to succeed, which is usually a good thing. But bear in mind that you lose nothing by giving it a shot, and that most of all you are making full use of your time and life — enjoy it! Put yourself first and do what you have to do to enjoy yourself. If the conversation isn’t palatable, fill that glass of wine! If they are vulgar, abrupt or annoying, use the occasion to test some pet theories out and get some valuable feedback! If they aren’t attractive, you may have found a fantastic friend instead. The bottom-line is that a date is never a case of time lost, there is always something to learn or gain. And kudos to you for giving yourself the chance! You won’t regret it.