First dates are important. That first impression can either score you a second date and lead to a fulfilling long-term relationship or put you back on the market. So it pays to get some great advice before you go out with someone for the first time. The Cheat Sheet spoke with a few dating and relationship experts to get the best first date advice they’ve ever received. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Listen to your gut
Often, when we begin dating someone new, we can be blinded by the excitement and rush of finding that special person. It’s important for you to see that person for who he or she really is and take your time getting to know him or her. When your date says something that raises a flag for you, give some thought to the situation. People will often show you who they are in the early stages of a relationship by the words they use and their specific actions. Are you seeing what you want to see, or are you truly getting to know the person you are dating? Heed the words of Maya Angelou; pay attention and believe them when they show you who they really are!
This advice has impacted the way I approached first dates and dating in general in allowing myself to stop second-guessing someone’s intentions, and instead take the person at face value. It only gets harder to break up the longer you date ignoring the flags. I’ve learned that the hard way, too!
Dallisa Hocking, founder of Love FrogKisser
2. Eat something
The best dating advice I have ever received was if you’re meeting for dinner to order whatever you damn well please! I think it’s time to dispel the myth that women should be ordering a side salad with a diet soda. Real women eat real food in real portions. Don’t think that altering what you want to consume will somehow earn you bonus points.
This has benefited me greatly in my dates because it makes me relax about how I’m feeling when I look at a menu. I no longer think, “The fish feature sounds amazing, but I should probably order the wedge salad instead. I don’t want him to think I’m some sort of food monster.” And if you get weird about your food order, you might be making your partner self-conscious about their own food choice. Bottom line, just order whatever sounds good to you, relax, and have a great time.
Dr. Megan Stubbs, sex and relationship expert
3. Don’t take your date too seriously
The best first date advice I ever got is, “Don’t take the first date too seriously.” By that, I mean it’s just a date, not a marriage proposal. It’s an hour or two of your time during which you’ll meet someone to find out if you two connect. That’s it. It’s not the biggest night of your life. It’s nothing to freak out over. So don’t get yourself worked up by worrying about what you’ll say, what you’ll wear, and whether or not he’s going to like you. Just go, have a good time, and decide whether or not you like him.
The more you worry about or fantasize about a date, the bigger the date becomes. The more overwhelming it becomes, the more nervous you become. As a result, you’re going to present a chatty, fumbling basket case instead of the awesome person you are. So, don’t take your first date too seriously. If it stinks, you end up with an awkward date story to tell your friends. If it’s fun, you might end up with a second date.
4. Have a go-to date outfit
Have a go-to first date outfit that is tried and tested! On a first date, everyone judges a book by its cover, so it’s super important to look fabulous and feel like you are the best version of yourself! For women, I always suggest wearing a little black dress and nude heels (you can dress the look up with a blazer or down with a cute jean jacket). Women are also visual creatures, so for men, fitted is your friend. Fitted dark-wash jeans, a black V-neck fitted top, a leather belt, a blazer/tailored jacket, and leather shoes is a look that makes every woman swoon!
Alessandra Conti, co-founder and executive matchmaker of Matchmakers in the City
5. Have an open mind
It’s important to enjoy and embrace your time getting to know someone new, not analyzing every little thing your date is saying or doing. I look at dating as an opportunity to meet someone new versus the idea of “could this person be my potential husband or wife?” When you take the pressure off the date, you’d be surprised at the opportunity you have right in front of you to get to know the person you’re meeting. The key is to be present and in the moment, while keeping an open mind for all possibilities!
Jennifer Donnelly, matchmaker, The Ultimate Matchmaker
6. Don’t try to be someone else
Be who you are, not who you think your date wants you to be. You may as well be true to yourself because it is only someone who can appreciate you that can make a happy relationship. Resist the urge to do otherwise. You might be pleasantly surprised at the result!
Linda F. Williams, psychotherapist, life coach, and founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching Services
7. Be open to second chances
It takes several dates to get an accurate read on someone. Don’t rush into assuming that someone is “not for you” or “perfect” from the first date. It’s easy to dismiss someone and miss a diamond in the rough or think that you found a diamond, only to discover that it is cubic zirconia.
I had a bad first date with my husband and couldn’t think of one reason to go on a second. But I held true to my dating rule to “never reject based on one date.” Our second date was great and and we have been together ever since.
Rhonda Milrad, licensed clinical social worker and founder and CEO of Relationup
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[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published September 2016]