Holidays are here, and many of us are out and about going on first dates – whether it’s with someone you met at an event or a party, or you were set up by a friend or a dating service – it’s a great time of year to be dating.
Let’s face it – first dates can be exhilarating and intriguing yet a little nerve wracking if you haven’t been on the first-date circuit in a while. The rules have changed a bit, and it’s not just about avoiding religion, sex and politics as the rule of thumb anymore. Here are a few rules to go by:
1. Don’t talk about your ex.
This is a no brainer for those of you coming out of a bad breakup. But for others, “ex talk” can be a crutch. If your date starts badmouthing her ex move away from the topicby politely saying, “It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. Shall we talk about something more pleasant?” Sympathizing with your date is easy, and jumping on the “badmouthing bandwagon” is even easier. Learn to comfortably move on. The date is about the two of you and NOT about the past. Ladies, please also remember not to excitedly mention you are friends with all your exes. It’s great to maintain friendship – but it may intimidate your date, or make her feel like you can’t make the step from friends to lovers, because you might secretly still be holding on to the past. The best advice is to avoid the “ex” talk all together.
2. Don’t be lazy -- first impressions are important.
Remember, many people judge someone within a few seconds of meeting them. You’re going on a DATE – so dress to impress her. If you don't think you are up with the latest fashion trends, fine. But don't be the gal on a date wearing a stained/wrinkled/old/untucked/outdated shirt. A first date is like a job interview – be presentable and PLAN for the date according to location, time and ambiance. Google the restaurant to make sure you are dressed appropriately. Weekend dates are dressier, especially over dinner. A general rule? No athletic gear/hoodies/tennis shoes (especially big ole’ white ones) for evening dates. (Also, no shorts on a first date, EVER.) Show your date you took the time to be well groomed/ironed/lip balmed or glossed – first impressions go far.
3. Don’t get drunk.
Sometimes a cocktail sounds like the perfect remedy for first date jitters. However, we are still in the first impression stage at this point. If you are comfortable not drinking on a first date then go for it. If you need a little liquid confidence then limit yourself to two drinks on a first date. Don’t give the impression that you are a lush when maybe you’re just calming your nerves! Engage and get to know your date. If the conversation is interesting the last thing on your mind should be getting another martini before happy hour is over. If you are throwing back drinks words start flying out of your mouth more freely, which you will likely regret. At the end of the night or the next day, you don't want to think, “What did I say to her? Why doesn’t she want to see me again?”
4. Engage your date, don’t interview.
Working in the dating industry for many years now we have seen many clients make the mistake of “interviewing” their dates, especially when meeting for the first time. Asking questions is good. But drilling questions one after the other, or working hard to make sure she checks everything off your “list” is bad. Regardless of chemistry this will probably kill your chances of seeing this person again. Your conversation needs to flow. Think of questions beforehand that will spark a discussion (avoid politics/sex!). Note your body language during the chat. Eye contact is always a plus, but don’t stare. Don’t cross your arms or slump in your chair. Also, watch your language and don't talk about yourself the whole time. You may have an awesome job and have all the accolades in the world – but listen to yourself. Nobody likes “name droppers.” Confident is good, arrogance is not!
5. Don't go somewhere you can't afford.
Dating can be expensive. Complaining about prices is a huge turn-off. No one likes a cheap date. Taking someone to the finest restaurant in the city is not going to impress her if you grumble about the check in the end. Date within your means. Have a few restaurant names in your back pocket to suggest if your date wants to move from a drink to dinner and you realize ordering a main dish at that restaurant will max out your Visa.
Bottom line? Be yourself. No one wants to date a shell of who you really are (especially a drunk, cheap, disheveled shell). There is someone out there for everyone, so practice your first date skills and get out there. Happy dating!
Meghann Novinskie and Kim Rosenberg are partners in life and business as the owners of Mixology – Matchmaking with a Twist (www.ReadyToMix.com). Send them your dating questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.