First dates are mysterious terrain to lots of men, unless you’re James Bond. Where do you take her on a first date? What can you talk about to ensure that there are no awkward, staring-at-the-menu silences?
And most importantly, how can you impress her enough to get a second date?
It can feel like a complete gamble. But don’t panic – here are some stressbusting tips to help you make sure everything goes smoothly.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel We know, you want to be romantic and original. You don’t want to take her to a boring bar or restaurant, so you’re thinking of a mid-day picnic in the park.
Perhaps a hike to a place you’ve never been before? Ice-cream on a rollercoaster? Think again. The whole point of first dates is that you’re getting to know a stranger – you have absolutely no idea what they like.
At this point, you don’t want to suggest a quirky, offbeat date that they might not enjoy (besides, ants crawling all over the two of you on a blistering July day in the park is not exactly conducive to romance).
No, no, there’s a reason the classics are classics. Take her to a restaurant and just talk. Order your signature drink, ask her if she wants to split a starter.
Once you know her likes and dislikes better, you’re free to plan inventive dates. Focus on asking her questions, instead of showing off your CV First dates can feel like a job interview, in the sense that you’re both trying to see if you’re a good match.
You want to skillfully highlight your time spent doing charity work in Uruguay, your extensive knowledge of Russian literature, or your piano-playing ability.
But that doesn’t exactly put people in the mood for romance. Take off your interview hat and relax, so you can put her at ease. Instead of talking, listen. Ask her simple questions: ‘What’s a typical weekend like for you? Ah, do you enjoy that? That must be difficult – tell me more?’
Good listeners are rare enough to be impressive. Above all else, she wants to feel that you take an interest in her, and that she’s an interesting person.
If you spend the entirety of the date lecturing her on all the wonderful things about yourself, she’s going to go home bored out of her skull – no matter how varied your CV is or how funny you try to be.
When it comes to first date flirting, less is more. Sure, that’s not how you’ve seen it on TV and movies. Onscreen, first dates are filled with sexy innuendo and knock-em-deadlines.
But this can easily backfire, or come off cheesy, or (worst of all) leave her feeling uncomfortable – the kind of uncomfortable where she calls for the bill and texts her friends saying: ‘Oh god, complete disaster. He was being creepy and overtly sexual the entire night.’
When in doubt, keep it subtle. Maybe lay off that filthy joke you heard around the office last Friday. Don’t go straight to the pick-up line you read in some men’s Internet forum.
Do compliment her: ‘You look beautiful in that dress.’ A tasteful compliment does the heavy lifting –it lets her know that you’re attracted to her, without being OTT. Remember, you can always flirt outrageously later when you know more about her preferences.
Don’t talk about your exes. Ever. It’s natural to be curious about the other person’s relationship history, or their current status.
You want to swap horror stories of online dating, or talk about deal breakers. You might both be thinking: ‘He/she is so great, why are they single?’ All of that is fine.
With one notable exception: Do not talk at length about your exes. There’s just no reason to do it on the first date, no matter what. Even if you thought they were ‘crazy’ because they keyed your car.
Don’t talk about why you broke up with them, or do a post-mortem of that relationship. Don’t point out that your ex’s favourite band is playing in the bar.
Don’t talk about them, period. This is a date between two people, not a therapy session with the ghost of your ex in attendance.
No matter what you’re saying, the girl you’re on a date with only hears one thing: I’m not over my ex-girlfriend. This will send her running for the hills, every time. Keep the ex references to zero – and if that’s tough, question why.
If you can’t go on a date without bringing up Jenny who you loved four years ago…maybe you shouldn’t be dating. Walk her out, thank her, and send that follow-up text Okay, let’s skip ahead to the final five minutes of the evening.
You’ve split the check after she refused to let you pay, you’re walking her to her car, and you feel so tense you can’t move.
What do you do? Do you kiss her? Do you say goodbye? Do you do the stiff one-arm hug before disappearing? Relax. Watch her cues. If you’ve been flirting heavily for hours, it might be the propitious moment to lean in slightly and say ‘I’ve been thinking about kissing you the whole night.’
Whatever you do, don’t lunge – it’s hugely offputting. If a kiss happens organically, fantastic. If not, don’t stress it. Handle any rejection with grace.
It might not be the right time. Maybe it’ll happen on the second date, when you finally go on that picnic in the park. This is your chance to be polite and sweet.
Tell her that you had a lovely time, and ask her to text you when she gets home safe. That way, she’s much more likely to say ‘Yes please’ when you text ‘Can we do this again?’