Expert Advice: Making a Great First Impression on a Date

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Man with flowers meeting woman

eHarmony’s latest research talks about first date dos and don’ts, and how to clinch that exciting second date. So we asked dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams to share her advice on making that all important first impression.” Well, first things first – it’s about being yourself and being true to how you feel about the other person.

But aside from that, what are the little things you can do to help things along and why do these matter? Well, in a lot of cases there’s a scientific reason – a combination of psychology and genetics – behind many of the ways we act, or how we interpret others’ actions.

For example, this first date dos and don’ts study shows it’s the simple things that make the biggest impact, with smiling coming top of the first date ‘must do’ list. So why is smiling so important?

A smile can mean many things; at a primal level it immediately puts you into the friend not enemy category. Plus, research shows men deem women more beautiful with a smile, so are more attracted to them. The old adage that the eyes are the window to our souls is now changing to focus on our pearly whites, with studies showing that our teeth are the human’s adaptation of a peacock’s tail with a similar effect on attracting a mate.

On a more material level, offering to pay the bill came in at number two in the study.

The murky waters of ‘who pays’ can be a tough one to navigate on your first date. The modern take is that whoever asks should pay, with an underlying potential that the man might pick up the bill even if the woman did the asking. Whatever you choose to do, ensure you’re being genuine – a genuine offer to contribute or pay allows the other person to feel happy to act rather than obligated.

Also, the classics such as telling jokes; arriving early and dressing up for a date featured on in the top 10. Wearing aftershave/perfume was also a must, which makes sense as numerous studies show scent and attraction to be closely linked.

In general, showing you’ve made an effort goes a long way, but remember not to go too overboard. A relaxed casual demeanour indicates low stress levels and is considered to make people (men in particular) more attractive. Originally this was linked to genetics, with this genetic makeup appealing to women’s biological imperative to pass on strong genetics to her child. In more modern times it can be as simple as: a relaxed person is easier to be around and makes for a fun evening without any pressure.

Swearing, being rude to wait staff and general anxious behaviour is rarely attractive. Which brings me on to the first date faux pas revelations.

Showing off was up there, or as some call it ‘peacocking’. Sometimes used as a way to attract a mate, recent research shows that although this is a good way to get noticed, it’s not the best way to build a long lasting meaningful relationship as it can be overwhelming and too transparent.

Lateness also came up, plus coming on too strong and talking about your ex. Whilst these aren’t great traits, these do have the a plus side – they’re easy to change.

Sometimes these potential first date put offs might be nothing more than a bit of nerves getting the better of the other person. So if you think there’s something there, maybe mull it over and go for a second date to see if there’s any real chemistry bubbling under the surface – good luck! For more information check out our first date dos and don’ts galleries.

Visit Sloan’s website for more information or  follow Sloan on Twitter @sloansw_london and Facebook.


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