First dates can be uncomfortable.
They always start out a bit awkwardly, but if you’re lucky, you both loosen up throughout the date and enjoy getting to know a new person — one who might turn into a long-term romantic interest.
You might wonder what to do on a first date to make it memorable and enjoyable, and hopefully, lead to a second date.
Most women don’t think much beyond how they look and how to impress this new person they are about to meet.
But there’s so much more involved in making the first date a positive experience, whether or not it leads to something more.
With a little forethought and planning, you can ensure that this first encounter goes as well as it possibly can.
What a Girl Should Not Do On a First Date
Before we delve into the first date tips for girls, let’s get clear on some things you definitely don’t want to do on a first date.
16 First Date Tips for Women
What are some good tips for a first date? If you’re wondering how to act on a first date or the best ways to prepare for your next one, we’ve got you covered.
1. Know the reason you’re dating.
Stop to do some mental preparation before you go out on your date.
Once you can honestly answer these questions, you can interact with your date in a way that aligns with your end goal.
For example, if you are just dating around, you don’t need to worry whether or not you and the guy are perfectly compatible.
However, if you want a committed relationship, you might want to pay attention to your date’s life priorities, values, and interests. With clear intentions, you’ll feel a sense of purpose during your date.
2. Relax and have fun.
Before you even leave for your date, decide that you are going to have fun — even if he doesn’t turn out to be the perfect match.
Dating is a process. Each time you meet a new person, you are learning more about what you are looking for in a partner.
Even if the first date doesn’t lead to a second one, if you have a positive attitude and decide to have fun, you have nothing to lose.
3. Choose a neutral location.
For a first date, you want a location that allows you both to talk and get to know one another. The location of the date shouldn’t distract from that goal.
Although the guy may take the reins on this decision if he asks you out, you can certainly offer input.
Dinner at a loud restaurant followed by a movie isn’t a good choice if you’re hoping to converse. Even something fun and creative like a bike ride or going to the farmer’s market might be more about the event than the other person.
But a quiet coffee shop or an out-of-the-way bar are neutral spots that lend to good conversation and are easy to leave if things don’t go so well.
4. Keep it short.
You want to leave your date wanting more — not wondering if the night will ever end. Try to leave on a high note before you or your date runs out of steam.
You’re simply going on a date to figure out if the two of you have chemistry — not to learn each other’s life stories.
Start out meeting for coffee or a drink. You can plan a longer date if you decide you want to meet again.
5. Be fully present.
This doesn’t mean leaving your phone sitting on the table so you can look at your messages — or looking around at other men who walk past. Stay fully engaged in the conversation without distractions.
You also need to stay self-aware (so you can pick up on social cues) and listen as your date tells you about his life. Look at him and give visual and verbal cues that you are engaged in what he is saying.
If you’re nervous, don’t obsessively wonder about how the night is going to end. Neither of you knows the answer to this question, but you need to be present with your date to find out.
6. Don’t overshare
The first date is not the time to tell your potential partner about your ex-lovers or about that night you ended up naked and in jail.
Sharing too much too soon is a turnoff, as your date might think there is more weirdness under the surface.
Share enough information to reveal the type of person you are, your interests, and your personality, but save your crazy (we all have some) for the time when you’ve built some trust in the relationship.
Also, don’t ask questions that are too personal or would suggest that your date needs to overshare with you. For example, if your date tells you that his parents are divorced, you don’t need to ask why.
7. Be aware of your body language.
Make good eye contact with your date (without staring intensely), and try to avoid a defensive posture by crossing your arms over your chest.
In fact, you can show your date you’re interested by mirroring his movements and expressions.
Pay attention to your body language so you don’t reveal any nerves by playing with your hair, looking around the room, or fidgeting. Smile often and lean in when your date is speaking to show that you’re interested and engaged.
Touch your date’s arm during your interactions with each other to show that you’re interested in him.
But don’t be too pushy or grabby. Too much touching on a first date might show you’re more interested in a physical relationship than in the person you’re talking to.
8. Be yourself with confidence.
Confidence is the most attractive quality for men and women, so even if you’re nervous, show that you feel good about yourself.
Pretending to be some enhanced version of the person you would like to be is misleading and sets the stage for awkward future interactions.
Acting like someone you’re not is a game that can’t be played forever and guarantees that both of you will eventually be dissatisfied.
The goal of dating is to meet someone who is authentic and possibly whose desires in life align with yours. This can only happen if you show your date the real you — someone who is confident enough that pretending or acting isn’t necessary.
9. Prepare ahead with questions and conversation topics.
Before you leave the house, write down some ideas for topics you want to discuss and interesting questions you’d like to ask your date.
You don’t have to pull out your notes during your date, but writing down your thoughts will cement them in your mind. If you want to slip your notes in your pocket or purse, you can review them during a bathroom break if conversation starts to lag.
We have a great list of first date questions that you can check out before your next first date.
10. Break the physical barrier.
If your date seems shy, you can establish appropriate physical contact to show your interest.
Guys are sometimes hesitant to do this because they can’t tell if a woman is into him or not. Breaking the physical barrier will immediately put you both at ease.
Give him a warm hug at the beginning of the date and find ways to casually touch him during your time together. Don’t overdo it, but offer the occasional touch to build rapport and connection.
11. Know your deal-breakers.
What immediately turns you off and makes you know for sure that you don’t want a second date?
Your instant non-negotiables might be that your date is a smoker or that he mentions he’s into open relationships. Maybe he is rude to the waiter, or he answered a call from his mother in the middle of your conversation.
In advance of your date, be aware of the qualities or behaviors that instantly tell you that this guy is not for you. Your non-negotiables should be about character traits, personality flaws, and value systems.
12. Watch out for red flags.
Listen to your intuition if it is telling you that something isn’t quite right. If your date can’t answer basic questions like where he works, or he acts shady in some way, chances are that he is hiding something from you.
Also, if he starts to get on your nerves during your first date or acts overly cocky or opinionated, these are big red flags too. Pay attention to these clear indicators that you’re not going to work out as a couple.
13. Don’t hide your interest in him.
If you feel like the date is going well, don’t hide it and play hard-to-get. Let your date know that you are enjoying the time that you are spending with him.
Sure, a bit of mystery might be a good thing, but acting like you have no interest when you really do can get old quickly and send the wrong message…permanently.
14. Forget your superficial wish list.
Hold onto your non-negotiables and boundaries, but forget about your itemized wish list about his height, the type of car he drives, and his occupation.
Having lists like this will limit you in the dating world and could keep you from connecting with someone who could be great for you.
15. Watch your alcohol consumption.
This is especially true on your first date. Keep to a two-drink maximum (or less if you get tipsy easily).
Getting sloshed with someone you don’t know well can be risky, and it can also quickly turn the other person off.
Also, you don’t want to have clouded judgment when you are trying to make a genuine connection with another person.
16. Act like the date you want to have.
It isn’t your date’s sole responsibility to make your time together a success. You need to help make this happen also.
Put away your phone and engage in conversation. Ask questions and be attentive. Show an interest in his life by using your active listening skills and trying to relate to what he is saying.
If he pays for the date, be appreciative and gracious.
First Date Etiquette for Ladies
Just the words “etiquette” and “ladies” seem a bit outdated these days. The codes of polite behavior on dates have certainly shifted over the past few decades. But that doesn’t mean we should usher out all polite behaviors forever.
What are some first date rules for ladies that have stood the test of time? Basic courtesy is always in fashion, and modern women can practice etiquette that includes:
- Being appreciative (for compliments, the meal, the cost of the event, etc.).
- Being kind, even if you realize quickly the guy isn’t for you.
- Being on time and not making him wait around for you.
- Knowing and using basic table manners.
- Offering to share the cost of the bill unless he makes clear he’s paying.
- Saying “thank you” even if you don’t want a second date.
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Put these first date tips for ladies to good use.
Landing the first date can be hard enough, so once you’re on one, you want to ensure you feel confident and can enjoy yourself.
Next time you are scheduled to go on a first date, use these tips for dates to help your special time go more smoothly.
Think about how positive it would be if you went on a first date with someone who is prepared with discussion topics, engaged in the conversation, and self-confident.
And think of how happy your date will be if you are equally prepared.
Look at first dates as mini-adventures that give you more insight into yourself and what you want in a partner.
Don’t put pressure on yourself or on the other person. Just enjoy the opportunity to meet someone new and share some time together. For now, that’s enough.