Have you ever been so nervous for a first date that you arrived an hour early? I have. I’ve felt sick to my stomach, butterflies, restless legs, you name it. In the moment, I wonder why on earth I put myself through so much stress.
There’s a lot that goes into a first date. And with online dating, there’s the added pressure of meeting for the first time too. A big part of feeling comfortable on a first date is having confidence. That’s a lot easier said than done, especially for a recluse introvert such as myself. However, I was able to use these simple techniques to pull off a few really good first dates and in the end, snag my husband.
Follow these simple First Date Tips and you’ll be ready to face your next first dates with at least a little less anxiety and nerves. Here are some easy tips to get started before we dive inot the the deep end …
- Admit you’re nervous. …
- Ask questions. …
- Ask about their favorites. …
- Don’t spill your guts. …
- Don’t lie. …
- Don’t “one up” them. …
- Yes, Ask about their job, BUT don’t ask about their salary. …
- Don’t talk about past relationships and of course avoid talking about the ex
- Don’t talk about Politics, Religion or Money
With the easy ones out of the way, here are your 7 first date tips to make the night a success!
1. Be Prepared!
Okay, this is going to sound super weird but hear me out. If conversation isn’t your strong suit and you’re concerned about long awkward gaps, don’t leave that to chance. Think of a few questions you can ask ahead of time. If you’re already texting with this special person before you meet them, reserve a few good conversation starters for the date.
Are you also forgetful? Write a few words on the palm of your hand. For example, if you want to ask them what their favorite song by The Revivalists is, write “Revivalists” on your hand. No one is going to look on the inside of your palm and if they do, you’ll sweat it off before they get close enough to see it.
So maybe you’re not an introvert… you can still use preparation to boost your first date confidence. What’s your weakness? What are you afraid of doing to screw it up? If you’re worried about hogging the conversation, practice being a better listener in conversations leading up to the first date. By working on kicking bad habits, you’ll be a better person as a whole.
That’s not to say hogging the conversation is bad. In her book Quiet, Susan Cain suggests that opposites attract and introverts often end up with extroverts and visa versa. I’m not sure I agree with this cliché (since I married an introvert) but I do see why she would think this.
Introverts find it refreshing to be around extroverts because they don’t feel pressured to talk too much and an introvert can sit back and listen (our favorite mode). So really, if you’re worried about talking too much, talking too little or doing something clumsy, the right person will find these traits endearing (we hope). It doesn’t hurt to be self-aware but there’s no need to be a perfectionist either.
2. Lower the pressure.
First dates are filled with high expectations and high emotions. What I mean by lower the pressure is not to lower your expectations. You can have high standards about the people you date, but the first date isn’t a time to take things too seriously.
Instead of making a date the highlight of your day, leave yourself something to look forward to once it’s over. In other words, treat yourself no matter what happens.
It can be somethings simple like ordering a pizza or going out for drinks with friends. Schedule one of these activities for after the date. Not the next day, not the next week, literally right after the date.
This is a practice my husband used and it worked like a charm. You can tell yourself, no matter how the date goes, I still get a pint of ice cream when I go home. So when you’re at the date, you won’t be so stiff with expectations. You’ll feel less pressure because the person in front of you is not going to make or break your day. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they will be too and the date will be more likely to go well. Win win!
3. Do I sit next to or across from my date?
It doesn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about body language before a date. You probably already know to drink one glass of wine (softens the face), smile and use a lot of eye contact, but what about where you sit? Interestingly enough, where you sit does matter as far as the quality of the conversation goes. Take Oprah for example.
On her show, Oprah has an amazing ability to connect with her guests. She can make people open up and share very vulnerable stories even if she’s meeting them for the first time. A lot of this has to do with her body language. Most of us know to smile and keep a lot of eye contact, but where you sit matters too.
There’s an age old debate about whether to sit next to or across from someone on the first date. Either one is a preference, but you might want to consider something in between. Oprah tends to sit at an angle with her guests where she is next to them, but she’s not sitting right next to them or right across from them. You’ll also notice that she sits close enough to touch them and usually doesn’t have anything obstructing the connection like a table. In fact, she was the first host to sit on the same couch as her guests.
Think about it, if you lack confidence on a first date, either option can sound uncomfortable. Sitting across from someone puts a lot of pressure on you to hold eye contact. Sitting next to someone means they’ll be a lot closer in proximity. If you can sit at a table rather than a booth and sit next to each other that way, you can be closer together but not side by side either. The table doesn’t completely sever the connection but it does leave some space.
Basically, it gives you options. You have opportunities to touch and face each other or look away, but it leaves space for comfort.
4. Where your phone sits is also important. Don’t give it a place at the table!
Studies have found that by putting a phone in view, conversations are duller and less intellectually stimulating. If you want to have more meaningful conversations, keep your phone in your pocket. The phone should only make an appearance if it comes into the conversation like they ask to see a picture of your dog. Once you’re done, put it away. Having meaningful conversations will help a date go in a positive direction. Don’t let your phone get in the way of that.
5. Boost confidence, relieve stress.
The last body language piece I’ll mention has been proven to increase testosterone (confidence related hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone). What you’re going to learn are called power poses. They were referenced in a TedTalk by Amy Cuddy. Most body language is used in reference to other people, but Cuddy teaches people how to use these poses for yourself. A power pose is when you make yourself bigger:
- arms up and outstretched
- hands behind your head, leaning back
- feet spread apart
- hands on the hips (Wonder Woman pose)
- head held high
If you hold one of these poses for only two minutes, your hormones will change. You’ll get more testosterone and less cortisol. However, you don’t want to display the pose during the date. People who feel connected tend to mirror each other, but that doesn’t happen when someone is power posing.
Instead, the other person will do the opposite. They’ll get smaller, take up less space. That’s not something you want to do to your date. So right before your date, find a private place like a bathroom stall or your car and practice a power pose for two minutes.
In studies, people who did this were more relaxed, enthusiastic, optimistic and engaging. They were more confident taking risks and did better in a stressful mock interview. By going into a date after taking a power pose, you’ll present your best self. You’ll be more open and less nervous. That’s the perfect first date combination, because first dates are very much like job interviews. You’re learning about each other and the more at ease you can be, the better.
6. Look the part.
Similar to power poses, how you present yourself isn’t only about how the other person sees you. It’s about how you see yourself. Show off your best self. Power poses work because when you act confident, then you’ll feel confident, so you become confident. Wearing something that makes you feel good can have the same effect.
That doesn’t mean you have to get ready like you’re going to prom, but check all the boxes so you can feel and look your best:
- take a shower
- brush your teeth
- comb your hair
- wash your face
- put on deodorant
- wear something nice
- make sure it’s comfortable
Choosing what to wear on a date can be the hardest decision. What you decide to do for the first date will determine what you wear, but a good rule of thumb is to choose something business casual. It’s something you could wear to a corporate job or a nice restaurant, but it’s not so stuffy that you’re going to be uncomfortable the entire time.
7. Wear layers.
If you pick out a turtle neck and then you start overheating from lack of nerves, you can’t take that off. Instead, opt for a jacket over a light button up or lacy tank top. Looking nice doesn’t mean you have to torture yourself. A wardrobe failure means you’ll be distracted from what really matters: getting to know the other person.
I’ll leave you with this:
As much as you may feel helpless about a first date, you have a lot of control about how you feel going into it. Visualize how you want the date to go and if you use all of these tips, you’ll be on fire. You may decide that the person wasn’t right for you, but you can keep reusing these tips as long as it takes to find Mr. or Mrs. Right!
If you don’t feel like you’re getting as many dates as you deserve, we can help you maximize your profile! Our talented professionals can help you get the perfect pictures and say the perfect things in your bio. We’re here for you! Book us or go to our services page to learn more.