So, after weeks of trying, you finally got a date with the person you like. It’s great news! They’ve agreed to go out with you, so now you need to think about what you’re going to do. A first date doesn’t have to be filmic in its romanticism or scale, but it does need to make the right impression. It’s for this reason that huge numbers of people approach their first date in abject terror.
But there’s no need to be afraid. With a simple step-by-step approach, you can prepare and execute an excellent first date! We’ll begin our guide at the point right after someone you like has agreed to go out with you. You might think the hardest part is over, and so here is what comes next!
Step 1: Make a Plan of Action
You should have a very clear plan in your head of all things you could do on your first date that you think the other person will enjoy. You won’t have time for all of the things you can think of, most likely you wouldn’t have time even for half of those things, but the first step is to come up with all the ideas you can.
From that brainstorm, pick out a good “main path” for your first date, starting from when you pick your date up (or when you meet up if you’re meeting at the location) to when the date will end. It sounds very unromantic, but there is a method to this madness, which will become clear by step 5.
Let’s say your initial plan of action is to take your date for a nice dinner at a restaurant you know they like, and then to catch a late movie at the nearby theater. That’s a nice, solid plan to get started.
Step 2: Plan Your Wardrobe
You should think in advance what you want to wear for your date. You want to make a good impression, but dinner and a movie isn’t exactly a black-tie affair, so no tux is required. Pick out an outfit you like and make sure those clothes are washed and/or dry cleaned in advance of the date. You want to look like you’re at least making an effort.
Picking out your clothes in advance will just help you feel a bit less tense when you’re getting ready. Some people who are very nervous will spend far too long picking out their outfit, thus making themselves late for the date and creating a negative first impression.
Step 3: Break the Ice Early On
As the date begins, it’s important to break the ice as early as possible to try and relieve the tension. When that nervous tension is allowed to fester on throughout the date, it just makes things awkward and increasingly difficult. Break the ice with a joke (appropriate jokes only, please!), make some nice comments about your date’s outfit, hair and whatnot, and ease the two of you into some nice conversation by asking questions. This brings us neatly to the next step.
Step 4: Ask Questions and Make Polite Conversation
Some people get really nervous about what to talk about during a first date, so the safest thing you can do is just ask some nice, simple and polite questions. Open-ended questions are best; questions that allow your date to offer extended and detailed answers and to talk more. And the best thing? Your date can reciprocate, allowing you to talk on safe topics that you know well. This works like a slow ice breaker, gradually thawing the tension over an hour or so of the evening.
Examples might include:
- Where did you grow up?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Do you have Netflix? What shows have grabbed your attention recently?
Keep it simple. You should also avoid inappropriate topics during the first date. Avoid asking overly personal or sexual questions, and definitely try to avoid talking about your ex or previous relationships. No one needs to see that much of your dirty laundry this early on in your relationship.
What to talk about on a date
One more thing to remember during the date. Don’t drink too much and get tipsy. It’s okay to have a glass or wine or two with dinner, but getting really smashed is never going to make it a good first date. Things will just get awkward.
Step 5: Extend Your Activities if Things are Going Well
This is where your initial brainstorming really comes in handy. You reserved a table at the restaurant and bought movie tickets, but if things are going really well and you feel both of you are in a good place, why not keep the good times moving? Go back to your brainstorming and think about something else you could do after the movie, such as going for coffee or dessert.
It can be a great sign if your date agrees to extend beyond your initial plan, showing that they are having a good time together with you. However, don’t push for this too hard. If your date seems tired or they mention that it’s getting late, offer to take them home or at least see them to a cab.
Step 6: Resist the Urge for Sex
At the end of the date, you might get an invitation to come back to their place, or you might be tempted to ask if your date wants to come in “for coffee.” We won’t say that sex on a first date is always bad, but if you’re serious about trying to find a relationship, and you have a good feeling about a person, there’s no reason to indulge this early on. Keep things simple between you and resist the urge. The key thing is to follow up and secure a second date (and beyond) once the date is over. You can look forward to the sex later, maybe after the second or third date.
Step 7: Follow Up
Finally, having been through your first date, the next step is to follow up with your date and see if they’re ready for a second date. If they are, then things went well and you can forget about anything embarrassing or awkward that happened. If they don’t agree, then don’t take it too hard. You went out, there was clearly no spark or no good energy. It wasn’t meant to be, in that case.
Following up will tell you straight up where you stand, and that’s why it’s better than playing any dating games, waiting a period of time to see if they call you, or to try to not seem overly interested. You know the deal. Forget the games, and get to straight talking.
No Plan is Ever Perfect, but Having No Plan is a Disaster
No amount of planning or organization will ever be perfect. There will always be things about this date that you wanted to go differently or wish you could do over. It’s understandable, and inevitable. However, it’s always better to have a plan and veer off slightly than to have zero plans and just leave everything to chance. No plan will leave you with more regrets in the case of a first date.
As things progress with your new love interest, you’ll naturally feel more relaxed and comfortable and things will get easier. The first date is like the first hurdle. If you can just get over it with enough confidence, the others start to feel like a cake walk.