It’s not just about first dates. The second, third, fourth… each one potentially builds to a relationship. Is there a way to put the odds in your favour? To make a date go well, do we need ingredients beyond chemistry and compatibility? I’m convinced there’s a guide to follow…
It’s a date, not an interview
No one wants to sound boring and basic to a person they’re trying to ‘woo’. Unique questions like: “If you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would you choose?” seem great in theory. In perspective, would you meet a friend and ask them a difficult life question within 5 minutes of meeting? Would you suddenly say, “how was your weekend?… great, so what do you think about euthanasia?”
Conversation should flow naturally, which means in-depth questions need momentum. As an article on Self.com recommends, “Ask the simplest question in the world.” As well as being organic, straight-forward questions make people feel comfortable. Once you’ve built rapport, you can naturally ease your way to deeper topics.
Dating is like a job interview – numerous interviews to convince someone you’re worthy of a boyfriend/girlfriend title. You bring your best-self forward and highlight your qualities. It’s often nerve-wracking – a perplexing mix of sexual excitement and WTF do I say? Though if you’re a frequent dater, you probably just think: “please look like your dating profile”. There’s a fine line between a first date and a job interview, so what you ask should differ. Skip the “why did you leave your last job?” queries and focus on showing interest in what they’re doing now.
Make a date go well by not over expecting
My dream guy has a creative edge, he speaks various languages and loves exploring new bars, shows, restaurants and activities. When a man comes close to expectations, I coat them in gold and whimsically imagine how our lives could look. It’s unrealistic and it sets me up to fail.
Who can handle that pressure? Your actual ideal partner may dislike some activities and hobbies you picture sharing with a loved-one. As scienceofpeople.com state: “a perfect match doesn’t require perfect compatibility.” Because there’s so much choice in dating – several online apps with matches available, it’s easy to dismiss a person based on an insignificant point, assuming a more likeminded individual is out there.
Speaking to author and pilates instructor Neeta, she advises to “be completely aligned before the actual date and just CHILL with it; without any expectation.” For an entire year, an ex-boyfriend desperately tried to catch my attention. Each time, I found a reason to say no: “He’s not my usual type, we don’t live that close, our friends are different, we hang out at different places”. Out of excuses (and also rebounding), I agreed to meet and quickly caught feelings. My pickiness simply delayed our relationship and made me realise my judgemental side needs to stop controlling my actions.
Location, clothing and attitude count
After an enjoyable first date, a guy decided to up his game and selected a fancy French restaurant. We were seated next to a large family enjoying a special occasion. Upon glancing at our menus, I instantly realised he wasn’t a frequent customer. Our non-speaking French selves had to choose from a range of 6 meals written in French. The only two English words were “ravioli” and “chicken”.
Neither of us admitted to not understanding the menu. When our waiter came over, my date asked for the chicken and I the ravioli. When we were given a dessert menu, my date generously offered for me to choose one for us to share. Once again, I chose the only readable option, a crème brulee. I’m not the biggest fan of dinner during a first or second date. You have to worry about food in your teeth, avoiding mess, and holding conversation without eating and talking at the same time. All this next to a stranger whose opinion of you in the hours you spend together has possibility to alter your life course.
The best locations have comfortable chairs, music you can talk over and a semi-busy atmosphere. Ideally a pre-booked table if you’re out in the city. I know some people appreciate surprises, but I think it’s good to discuss what you and a date like before arranging something. You want to feel comfortable in what you wear and happy with your food/drink and surroundings.
When you meet a date, forget about work deadlines and stressful commutes. (Note to self, stop complaining about London train delays). You make a date go well by having a positive attitude and a zest for life. Who wants to spend their weekday evening or weekend listening to the complaints of another? Save that for once you’ve trapped them in a relationship agreed to a relationship. And never talk bad about an ex.
Make a date go well by not being yourself
Okay, be yourself, just keep some air of mystery. As my friend Neha told me, “don’t be an open book”. I’ve realised I need to limit my alcohol as a few drinks leads to total honesty. It’s not about lying or fabricating your story though, it’s about recognising what’s worth conversation. If you find yourself bringing up things simply to keep chatter flowing, consider ending a date.
Otherwise, when a date goes home and begins to reflect, they might fixate on meaningless words you muttered, forgetting the wonderful stories and insight you shared at the beginning.
My personal 5 date do’s and don’ts:
- Do tell lots of short stories. Think of memories you find funny in an obvious way – a 10-minute suspense before a joke can lose interest. This is a good way to see how compatible your humour is. It’s probably best to avoid overly embarrassing, drunk anecdotes.
- Don’t define yourself by your work. I LOVE listening to a guy talk passionately about what he does. I also love when they discuss their goals and aspirations. Too much work talk makes me wonder if a guy is trying to impress solely through his career status, or whether he doesn’t do much outside of office hours.
- Do make your feelings obvious. When you know someone likes you, you can relax and unwind a bit more. The initial pressure is off. Provide compliments, both on personality and appearance.
- Don’t invite them back on a first date. I’ve spoke about first-date sex taboo before and I have no qualms about people who choose this. Having said that, if you want to show you’re seeking commitment, it may help to head home alone. Avoid the stereotype: “they’re using you for sex”.
- Don’t forget to prioritise yourself. You want to amaze a date – you also want to be amazed yourself. You shouldn’t put all blame and expectation on yourself for any awkwardness.