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First date tips to get you that second date

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by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Looking for some first date advice? The first date can be a real source of stress, especially if you met online. Did you choose the right place? Does this outfit look cute? How do I act like a normal human on this date? But fear not, first date jitters are part  of the human experience. It’s just important to not psych yourself out before you get a chance to show them what you’re worth.

Let’s take a look at some solid first date tips from our eharmony dating guide that can help you get over those nerves, get the conversation started and, hopefully, form a genuine connection out of this budding possibility. Let’s start!

1. Relax and be willing to own yourself

The first thing you need to do is take a breath and relax. That is obviously a primary area on any tips for a first date.  Don’t get in your head about it. A date is just two people meeting up to see if they have some kind of chemistry or connection. It’s not a job interview and certainly not life or death.

A huge amount of people suffer from date anxiety. About 1 in 5, according to NetDoctor1. But the key is not placing too much emotional weight on it. Remember, you have a unique set of qualities and traits you bring to a relationship so you should never feel like you’re at a disadvantage. Be yourself on a date without feeling like you need to impress the other person.

2. Timing is everything when it comes to first date tips

After forming a potential connection with someone and developing it casually, you may be wondering how soon should you go on a first date. When’s the right time to ask? The best advice here is not to overthink it. If you feel some kind of attraction is present, there’s nothing wrong with asking if they’d like to carry on talking sometime over coffee or a walk in the park. The important thing is not to wait too long after the fact so that it loses its momentum. As the aphorism goes, strike while the iron is hot. 

Another aspect of first date tips of timing that you may be considering is, how long should a first date last? Remember first dates are all about you getting to know each other. Try not to let activities on your date get in the way of that and, yes, make it a short date. Not only can conversation run out early on in a budding relationship but it’s always good to leave them wanting more. 

3. Common red flags on a first date

It’s always good to keep your eyes open for possible deal breakers on the first date before you get a chance to get emotionally involved and decide to ignore them, but just be careful not to focus too much on finding them. Some common red flags to look out for on a date can be:

  • Being late for the date shows a lack of consideration and basic manners.
  • Only talking about themselves can give you a good idea of what the tone of the rest of your relationship will be.
  • They’re disrespectful. Even if it’s just playful at first, it can tell you a lot about how they relate to the people in their life in general.
  • If they drink too much on a first date, it tells you one of the two things: they have a problem with moderation or they use alcohol to deal with their anxiety as a coping mechanism.

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4. Sharing your expectations with your date

In terms of first date tips for women and men, this stands equal. You should already know this before you even set the date but what are you looking for from this interaction? Something casual and easy-going? Or are you going for the whole package: swept off your feet romance and a relationship? 

Equally important is sharing this information with your date as soon as possible, so you don’t end up wasting each other’s time. If you want something long-term, don’t look at it as coming on too strong. It’s what you want right now. Own it and the other person will respect that, even if their desires may not be compatible with yours at that point.

5. Physical boundaries are paramount

FTips for the first date shouldn’t really include this, but let’s talk briefly about pshysical touch on a first date. While being physical touch on first date date can be an effective way to build intimacy- such as touching their arm during a lively part of the conversation or resting your hand on the small of their back as you politely guide them somewhere – it’s also crucial to be mindful of how they react to this.

If you feel like you’re going over a boundary, over-correct and let them initiate physical contact after that. You don’t want to break first date etiquette and put them off over something so trivial. It’s incredibly important that you both share a consensual pace for the date, wherever it may lead.

6. Don’t be too reserved about your feelings

In modern dating, we tend to be a bit guarded about our feelings. We want to know how to make a good impression, but we don’t want to wear our hearts on our sleeves. While it’s certainly a good idea to not show all your cards on the first date or get ahead of yourself, you also don’t want to play them too cold.

People are always looking for social markers that a date went well or whether they should cut their losses. So, if you play it too cool, you may find that the other person gets the wrong impression or feel latently rejected, even if you felt a budding connection.

7. A conversation is a shared activity

This is one of those first date tips that is easy to overlook and one of the most bemoaned dating fouls. We get excited and we want to share everything about ourselves. While it’s a good instinct to want to share some things about you that you think help characterize you and establish intimacy, it’s very easy for the balance to tip and become tedious for the other person if they’re not being given a platform to share.

Try making a conversation a constant two-way street. If they asked you about the things that drive your passions and you spent 10 minutes going on about your love of mountain biking, it’s time to find out what’s their mountain biking is. What joys fill their life? This is the meaning of intimacy. 

8. There’s nothing wrong with preparing a few conversational icebreakers

What should a first date be like? It should feel like a meeting of minds but also an event in and of itself. This doesn’t mean preparing some white doves to spring out at the culmination of your short seaside hike, but planning is a good thing.

Conversations can sometimes experience a lull, or you might have an awkward date moment hanging there because one of you made a gaff. Try to think up some good ways to get the conversation flowing or back on track.

For example:

  • What’s the first thought that gets you up and going in the morning?
  • What is your ideal vacation destination?
  • How do you think your tough times have shaped you?

It’s important that first date questions aren’t intrusive but also open-ended so that it can unblock the conversational flow.

9. Being receptive to body language is central to any first date tips

When you’re looking at first date tips, there’s just as much meaning in the unsaid as there is in the vocalized. Dates are constantly subconsciously telegraphing their feelings during an interaction. These can be very useful for pivoting during a date, either from a topic that’s making them uncomfortable or when your actions aren’t getting a reception.

Some classic body language and what it represents:

  • Folded arms are an obvious sign they aren’t receptive to you or what you’re saying. This is part of what’s known as distancing language.
  • Eye contact is a very positive sign. If your date is maintaining it consistently chances are they’re interested in what you’re bringing to the date.
  • Leaning in is the opposite of folded arms. It’s a great sign in first date tips for men and women. It’s their way of telling you they’re open to your energy.
  • A rigid posture is a sign of discomfort. Depending on how long they maintain it during your interaction, it may be worth cutting your losses. 
  • Mirroring each other’s behavior is quite common during dates and it’s a sign that you’re both invested and attentive to each other. 

Explore further signs of a good first date

In addition to body language, there are other helpful signs that indicate a successful date. Apart from a second date, that is? Here are the ten most obvious indicators and it’s definitely possible that you see each other again.

10. Be present during the date and set your own pace

While it can be tempting to set your dates during your lunch break or try to squeeze them into the ceaseless mill of your daily life, try to take time out for the date and be truly present. This will not only make for better conversation, as you avoid bringing your daily frustration and tasks into the interaction but also make you a more present participant in your dating life, so you can make a grounded decision on whether this person is right for you.

Among good first date tips is to try to set dates for Saturday morning before your weekend really starts. This is a very positive and renewing period for most people.  That way you’re in a fresh mindset but are also ensuring you’re making time for other life stuff.

11. A first date guide to choosing the right spot

The first rule in how to do well on a first date is you want both of you to feel comfortable and safe during the event so neither of you are preoccupied with other concerns and can share openly, particularly if you met online and this your first face-to-face. For instance, a first date at either of your homes is never a good idea.

Here are five qualities of a good first date spot:

  • It’s public.
  • There are other people around.
  • It’s in a safe neighborhood.
  • You mutually agreed on the destination.
  • It isn’t too out of the way for either of you.

More first date ideas

Still wondering what could be a good place for your first date?  Let us help, we’ve put together our top list of first date ideas designed especially to make your first real-life meeting an event to remember. 

First dates can often feel like a vetting process so make this part a bit easier by at least picking a comfortable environment to get acquainted.

12. Using the right kind of compliments

In terms of first date tips, compliments are something that should be used in moderation. You don’t want to love-bomb your date or come on too strong, as this may pull up some red flags for them. At the same time focusing your compliments solely on their physical attributes can tell them that you’re not particularly interested in the deeper them but rather just feel a superficial attraction to them.

Try to focus your compliments on the traits they have control over and have spent time and energy refining. Such as any talents they may have, their opinion on an issue or aspects of their personality that fascinate you. One of the most effective compliments is noticing something about your date that other people overlook. It makes them feel like you really see them, instead of carrying some preconception of them.

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Use these first date tips but also adapt them to the unique you

As you can tell from most of these tips, like being present and interested in your date or planning adequately for a good first meeting, are the qualities you’d enjoy if someone took you out. It’s not that hard to just be mindful and conscious of the other person so you can create a positive experience. So don’t look at it as a test, but rather just an opportunity for a fun time while getting to know someone you’re interested in.

eharmony can help you in the getting-to-know-you part by providing an effective platform for like-minded singles to connect based on our Compatibility Matching System, which does the hard work for you, introducing you to eligible singles you already share important traits with. So, try out a free account with us today.