8 Tips To Avoid First Date Fails

By: Katy Horwood |

First date
First dates, no matter how many you go on, can be a nerve-wracking experience. After the initial process of recognising you have the hots for each other online, followed often, by a brief conversation, the actual ‘first date’ can feel more like an audition than an informal meeting between two people who want to get to know each other a bit better.

The first thing to remember when on a first date, is that it is supposed to be fun! You are not at an audition (leave the jazz hands at home) or a job interview (note pad and previous dating history CV not required) you are there to meet somebody who, with any luck, you may end up having a relationship with.
With this in mind there are certain tips that I can offer to help that infamous ‘first date’ go smoothly and not turn into a complete and utter failure!

1. Have a conversation before you meet.

It’s amazing what you can tell from a person’s voice. Although there is nothing like a face to face meeting to really assess the chemistry, having a brief conversation with a person is a good way of sussing out a personality – and reassuring yourself that, despite looking like David Gandy your date doesn’t sound like Joe Pasquale on helium … unless of course, Joe Pasquale on helium is your thing, in which case, knock yourself out.

2. Meet somewhere relaxed and neutral.

Personally, I’m the kind of girl who has a panic attach unless she’s within 10 foot of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. A first date without a libation is the social equivalent, to my mind, of running down my local high street naked. As a consequence, I am fairly easy to please when it comes to first date venues, considering a cosy pub corner as a particular favourite. It’s relaxed, neutral and an easy place to pass the hours getting to know a person. However, if you were not quite so heavily reliant on gin, or indeed prefer to do without it all together, then there are plenty of alternatives these days which make good first date venues – galleries, walks in the park, the zoo, crazy golf to name but a few.
There are also first date venues which should be totally avoided. Do not spend your date in a cinema – unless you are 12 and can’t hold a conversation without blushing uncontrollably. Do not spend your first date somewhere which involves alternative clothing or footwear. You may well love indoor rock climbing and consider it an adventurous date idea, however, not only is it difficult to have a conversation up a wall, it also means your date will always remember you as ‘the girl with the safety harness wedgie’ – not a good look.

3. Make an effort.

Dating is a numbers game. You aren’t going to fancy everyone you meet and getting yourself out there can take time and energy – not least of all when Winter is upon us and the dark nights are drawing in. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, the idea of meeting a total stranger in a bar in the West End can feel like a chore when you’re halfway though a box set and your sofa seems especially inviting. However, it is important that, when dating, you put in the effort. Make sure you look your best and go with a positive attitude. Nothing signals the start of a bad date like somebody turning up with unwashed hair and an old pair of trainers on. Even if it means having a couple of date outfits prepared so that you don’t need to invest too much time in planning your evening – ensure that you are well dressed, presentable (for your own self-esteem, if nothing else) and most importantly arrive with a smile on your face!

4. Sit next to each other.

I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to seating arrangements on a date and always try and sit next to my date rather than opposite them on a night out – especially when there’s a table between you. Sitting opposite each other can make the evening feel like a bit of a job interview, it is formal and can feel a little artificial. You are not applying for a senior position or entering a ‘who blinks first’ competition. Sitting next to each other on the other hand, not only allows for a bit more body contact (steady now) but reduces the intensity of the date, it feels more relaxed and informal. If you are eating, sit at a bar or ask for a corner table … far more conducive to playing footsie if nothing else.

5. Avoid online dating stories.

Meeting online is nothing to be embarrassed about and there is nothing that irritates me more than a guy who starts a date with a conversation about how much he hates online dating. Not only should he man up and deal with it (and recognise that the vast majority of singles now use online dating as a way of meeting new people) but by ‘slagging off’ online dating he is indirecting suggesting that the woman he is dating is at fault for being proactive online too. Epic dating fail. Saying that, I wouldn’t encourage people to spend vast amounts of time recounting previous online dating horror stories either. A person wants to feel like they are special and that they aren’t one of hundreds. Banging on about profiles, messages and meet ups will devalue the date. You met online, great. Deal with it … but don’t dwell on it.

6. Do drink too much.

Metaphorically speaking. When I say ‘do drink too much’ what I actually mean is do whatever feels natural and right on the evening. You will read endless advice about not staying too long, not drinking too much, not saying too much etc and while a wouldn’t advice getting steaming drunk and trying to snog your date in the middle of a busy restaurant, I would say – if you want to stay for that extra glass of wine, do so. If the conversation does find its way to politics, religion and previous sexual partners, hell, go with it. Enjoy the fact that you have something to talk about other than bad online dates you’ve both been on.

7. Be open.

Similarly, not exposing yourself emotionally or revealing too much about yourself is also often offered up as useful dating advice. As I said previously, you are not at a job interview. Saying I love you after an hour and a half might be a bit strong but being relaxed and open will, in the long run, do you more good than harm. Be as natural as you can. If your date doesn’t like the real you, then all the better, at least you’ll know now and not 3 months down the line when he suddenly realises there’s more to you than a Stepford wife with no history. Your history is what makes you the fabulous person you are today, celebrate that, and share it … within reason.

8. Remember to have fun.

It’s a date! A fun evening with a hot guy you’d like to have another date/a relationship/hot sex with at some point in the future. The more you relax the more you’ll enjoy it and so will your date. Fingers crossed the evening goes well and you see each other again, and if not? Stay positive and move on to the next one. Not getting a second date is not personal – and it is important not to take it to heart. Getting upset about another person not feeling the same chemistry that you do is a total waste of energy. Don’t let it be the thing that sours your dating experiences in the future.

So, to enjoy a first date – relax, be yourself, have fun and take advice with a pinch of salt (except mine of course!) The most important thing, when it comes to a first date, is to do what feels right for you. This is my fail safe tip for a successful first date. That and matching underwear … well, you never know.