6 Things You Should Always Do on a First Date

By: Anna Wickham |

First dates are tricky. We only tolerate them because they are a necessary portal through which we can have things we like a lot more, such as a meaningful relationship. Last week, I shared 6 things you should never do on a first date. But this week, we’ll review all those things that you should definitely be doing on a first date.

1. Arrive with new eyes

Dating has its highs and lows. If the last six dates you went on were unsuccessful, you might not be thrilled to go on another.

But the first date is not the time to be cynical about the dating scene, nor is it the time to write people off before you meet them. People can sense cynicism, and it can be a turnoff.
Remember that the reason why you keep dating is because hopefully (eventually) one of these dates will be different. It will work out.

That’s why it’s important to arrive to your first date as if it’s the first date you’ve ever gone on in your life (even though it might be your third this week). It’s not easy, but try to view the date with a new pair of eyes.

2. Try something new

When I’m on a first date, I like to kill two birds with one stone: get that first date out of the way, and use it as an opportunity to try something new.

It’s easy to get in the groove of first dates. Dinner, drinks, coffee, repeat. You may even get into the habit of going to the very same place! There are at least two reasons to get out of your comfort zone.

First, since you’re going on a date anyway, you may as well try all the new places that are popping up in town that your friends or coworkers have been raving about. Instead of replying with your usual, “I’ve been meaning to try it for so long!”, chime in with your favorite menu item.

Second, experiencing something new together means that your date will likely look back on the event more often and more fondly than he might otherwise. After a few times, he will start to associate those feelings of exhilaration from the new experience with your date. Plus, if things work out with you two in the future, you can always recall that first date and the fun new activity you did together.

Some first date ideas to get you started:

Try an exotic new cuisine – Ethiopian, anyone?

Go to a beer tasting at a new local brewery

Play pinball or video games at an arcade

Play miniature golf

Attend a special event, such as an outdoor festival or a concert

3. Listen

Here is the golden rule of dating: everyone is far too concerned about how they are being perceived to pay too much attention to their date. Use this fact to your advantage by actually listening when your date is talking. It will benefit you in at least two ways:

Because it’s so (surprisingly) uncommon, it will make you stand out.

Use it to – duh – determine whether or not you are actually compatible. The last thing you want is to be too distracted wondering if you have something in your teeth to hear him when he’s telling you about his unacceptable political alignment.

There’s one other advantage to knowing the golden rule of dating, which is…

4. Put your best foot forward (but don’t stress about it!)

If your date is so busy worrying about himself, chances are he didn’t notice that you got something on your blouse during dinner, that you laughed at the wrong time when your date was telling a joke, or that you accidentally wore mismatched earrings.

Don’t get me wrong. You should always put your best foot forward when you’re on the first date. You are amazing, and you should make sure that shows. But don’t spend too much time worrying about how you look or how you will be viewed. It will only make matters worse by making you appear nervous, or distracting you from the present moment.

5. Let him pay if he wants

The most awkward part of a first date (and that’s saying a lot!) is when the server delivers the check. Should you reach for it? Should you offer to pay?

This is another opportunity to stand out from the crowd, this time by being cool and collected. Wait for him to reach for the check, then simply say, “I’ve got it.” If he tells you that he’d like to pay, let him. This isn’t so much a statement about which party should pay for the first date as much as it’s a tactic for dodging an otherwise tricky portion of date number one.

6. Have fun!

Dating can sometimes be a drag, but it won’t last forever. I know it’s hard to believe, but one day you may even look back fondly on it as a great time in your life. After all, you got to meet interesting people, go to all the best bars in town, and enjoy good conversation. Keep a positive attitude, and you’ll be having fun before you know it, regardless of whether things work out with your date in the future.

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