Relationship Experts Reveal: How to Survive a First Date

A couple on a first date

A couple on a first date | Source: iStock

First dates can be exciting, yet nerve wracking. You want to make a good impression, look nice, and say all the right things. But how can you be cool, calm, and collected when your heart is racing? Four relationship experts shared secrets with the Cheat Sheet on how to date like a boss.

Focus on how you want your date to feel

Before you start your first-date prep, you’ll want to look at things from the other person’s perspective. What impression would a small gift or candlelit dinner have on him or her? How would small gestures of interest, like touch, make him or her feel? Think about the little details so you can anticipate your actions. Life coach and founder of Bear Partners, Jeff Bear, explains further:

The first and most important question someone should consider is this: How do I want to feel on the first date? It’s the whole reason anyone dates in the first place — because they think they’ll feel better in a relationship than if they remained single. By asking yourself how you want your date to feel, it allows you to focus on your ultimate goal: how you really want to feel! It’s kind of like programming your GPS before you head out on a road trip. By focusing on how you wantyour date to feel — and making that your primary focus — it will inspire choices along the way that ensure a pleasant experience regardless of whether or not your date is a perfect match.

Get to know each other — but don’t forget to have fun

Use the first-date conversation as an opportunity to get to know each other and begin to explore each other’s likes and dislikes. Discover each other’s passions, dreams, and goals for the future. Enjoy peeling back the layers of each other’s personalities. Just remember to listen just as much as you talk. And keep things light — it’s a first date, not a job interview. Dating and relationship expert, Hunt Etheridge, has great advice for the perfect balance of deep questions and lighthearted fun:

A first date should be super fun and light. You want to build positive emotions. Don’t ask the ‘dating interview’ questions. Instead, ask questions that have happy emotions and memories linked to them. For example, ‘What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten?’ ‘Where would your dream vacation be?’ ‘When was the last time your boss praised you?’ Also, don’t forget to describe, not list. Instead of saying, ‘I like to hike,’ try something like, ‘I love hiking because I feel so free and happy when I’m outside!’

Plan an interesting activity

Couple celebrating Germany's sports vicotry at a country pub., sporting event

Plan a fun first date | Source: iStock

Your first outing together should be memorable. Put some thought into what you will be doing together. Relationship expert, Pam Evans, explains why:

I always recommend doing an activity that is casual and fun — something both parties will enjoy. For instance, if you both love pets, meet at a dog park for a walk or a run, if your dog is high-strung. Or, if you both enjoy modern art, meet at a local museum and get coffee or lunch in the café afterwards. This could be the perfect opportunity to get to know someone better.

Make sure the date isn’t too long

You want to ensure the date isn’t so long that you’re planning your escape. However, you don’t want it to be so short that you feel like you didn’t have enough time to get to know each other. Here’s what Lisa Steadman, relationship expert and author of It’s a Breakup Not a Breakdown, thinks:

I recommend keeping the date short and sweet, like a coffee date that lasts no more than two hours. In this case, the first date is really a chemistry test. Do you like the way the other person makes you feel? Do you like the way this person looks into your eyes? Do you like the way he or she communicates? Do you feel comfortable together?

Be honest if you aren’t enjoying yourself

There’s no need to suffer through an unpleasant date. Just be honest and get out of there. You’ll do both of yourselves a favor if you cut the night short and go your separate ways as soon as you know it’s not working out. Etheridge elaborates:

This is why you want short dates! So if it’s bad, you only have a small amount of time to fake it. Everyone can deal with one hour and then move on. While I’m a believer of ‘word is bond,’ and feel that if you agree to a date, you should stay on the date, I understand there are some real deal breakers: She’s doing coke in the bathroom; he’s getting sniffly about his ex. In these extreme situations, just woman- or man-up and tell it like it is. Be succinct, gracious, and upfront. You could say, ‘Listen…I’m glad we could meet, but I just don’t think this is what I’m looking for now. I wish you the best of luck in your search.’ But never do this before the bill comes. Tacky!

Don’t wait forever to follow up

A couple on a date

A couple on a date | Source: iStock

If you enjoyed being with your date and want to spend more time together, don’t play games. Be upfront and honest about your interest. Toss the famous “three-day rule” out the window. “I think the hard and fast rules of how long you should wait to call after a first date are a load of crap,” says Bear. “Call if or when it feels good to call.”

Give chemistry time to develop

Don’t give up all hope if you and your date don’t hit it off right away. Sometimes chemistry takes time to build up. Emotional chemistry is just as important as sexual chemistry. And strong emotional chemistry can contribute to more satisfying sex when the time comes. Evans shares:

When someone says, upon briefly meeting someone for the first time, ‘There was no chemistry,’ I have to ask, ‘What type of chemistry are you referring to?’ Nine times out of 10, they’ll respond, ‘physical, of course.’ Well, have you considered intellectual, emotional, or spiritual chemistry? Give the person a chance. If they don’t look like Godzilla or Godzilla’s sister, all types of chemistry, including but not limited to physical, may develop.

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