Two coffee cups

Top tips for a successful first date

I remember my first date with my (now) husband very clearly. We had been chatting online for a couple of weeks and decided it was time to meet up. I suggested dinner but he preferred lunchtime drinks. We ended up having a memorable lunch followed by coffee.

If you’re planning to meet up with someone soon, here are some tips to make sure that first date goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Be prepared

Decide beforehand what you want to do, or where you want to go. If you’re going to a restaurant it goes without saying to make a reservation where possible to prevent any embarrassing situations. If you’re going for a walk or picnic you may want to check the weather and make sure you have everything you need and are dressed appropriately. Give yourself enough time to get there, to avoid being late and having your date wondering if they’ve been stood up! Planning ahead also means thinking about conversation starters- what would you like to know about your date that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to ask them? Or, if you want to keep things light, asking about hobbies and interests is always a good place to start. But don’t be boring- think outside the box!

2. Make an effort

I once had a guy show up for a lunch date looking like he’d just rolled out of bed. I wasn’t expecting James Bond but he sure didn’t look like he had put too much effort into his appearance. Now I’m not suggesting that you splurge on a new outfit each time you go to meet someone, but making an effort with your appearance is always a good place to start. First impressions do count.

3. Be open-minded

When I first met my husband, I thought he was too quiet because he only asked questions and didn’t say much. I felt like I was the one doing all the talking. I now know he was just getting to know me by giving me the chance to talk about myself. If I’d decided he wasn’t for me based on that first impression, we may never have seen each other again. First impressions are important but they’re not everything. Consider that your date may just be nervous. Being open-minded also means that you keep your pre-conceptions at the door. Get to know the person in front of you, not the person you think they are. Are they part of a different church denomination? No problem; get to know them. Do they have a different upbringing to yours? Well, you’ll be surprised what you can learn from someone else’s experiences. Certain differences don’t have to be deal-breakers. What matters is how well you and your date get along and if you’re willing to work through said differences.

4. Be yourself

There’s always a temptation to put up appearances and act in a way you think the other person might find attractive. Pretending to be someone you’re not, won’t work – sooner or later you’ll be found out! So, if you really hate musicals, for example, say so, otherwise, you may quickly find yourself among hundreds of ABBA fans singing along to ‘Dancing Queen’ in the theatre (my perfect date by the way)! Or, if you’re more of an indoors person (like me), don’t pretend to like the outdoors, going on long walks, camping, etc. If you really like each other, you’ll find interests that you can share. Remember, if someone has agreed to go on a date with you, they already like you, even if just a little bit.

5. Relax, and enjoy!

One of the most difficult things I remember about being single was constantly wondering if every guy I met or went on a date with was ‘the one’. I think this prevented me from enjoying that phase of my life and truly being in the moment. Remember, it is only a first date; you don’t have to decide your wedding date that day. Try not to see it as the ‘potential husband/wife’ date as this only adds extra pressure on both of you. Of course, the first date can give you an inkling as to whether to take things further, but don’t feel like you have to decide things there and then. I think it was Jim Elliot that said, ‘wherever you are, be all there!’ And he was right. Be in the moment. Enjoy the food. Take in the lovely views. Bop to the music. Engage in the conversation. Your date may not end up being ‘the one’, but at least it won’t be a wasted evening.

Photo by Quentin Dr

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