Meeting someone new can be nerve-wracking … especially if there’s a potential for romance. Few people have zero jitters about a first date, but there are a few things you can do to ensure things go smoothly. Whether there’s a connection or not, it’s important to follow some basic etiquette and be a good date. After all, even if this isn’t your perfect match, word gets around.
Here are seven fool-proof tips to make a fantastic first impression. Review them before heading out the door. One slip-up could put your destiny on a different track.
1. Be on time
This should seem obvious, but there’s a big chunk of the population that’s chronically late. It’s not acceptable, and certainly not on a first date — or any date.
If you’re not sure how traffic will be, or the address is unfamiliar, get there early. You can check out some local shops, bring a book, or find another way to entertain yourself if you get there a little too early. That’s much better than being even a few minutes late.
2. Offer a genuine compliment
It doesn’t matter if your date is a man or a woman; everyone deserves a genuine, thoughtful compliment. If you’re interested in someone enough to go on a date, you should have no shortage of compliments up your sleeve. Take your time and don’t feel like you need say something right away. There’s no bad time for a compliment if it’s a good one.
3. Use the person’s name
Most of us adore the sound of our own name, so peppering the conversation with it is a great way to build intimacy. Address your date with the name they introduce themselves (or sign emails if it’s an online or blind date), and don’t assume all the Jessicas, Johnathans, Katherines, and Geoffreys want to go by a mono-syllabic pet name.
Using someone’s name just the right amount can put him or her at ease and makes the person feel good. It’s the easiest way to build comfort.
4. Listen more than talk
Ask questions and truly care (and listen) about what the person has to say. People like talking about themselves, and aren’t you here to learn about them anyway? Someone who talks all the time comes off as self-absorbed, and that isn’t anyone’s idea of a great date. Work that muscle between your ears, and at the very least you’ll learn some interesting things about a new person.
5. Consciously smile and practice positive body language
Smiling isn’t usually something people naturally do when they’re really nervous, but it can be practiced. A warm smile is the best way to break the ice.
Also, be aware of your body language. Nervous body language (such as crossed arms) can be seen as cold or defensive, so understand what kind of vibe you’re really putting out there. You may have some bad habits, but you can break them with practice.
6. Always offer to pay
Whether you’re a man, woman, gay, or straight, it’s polite to offer to pay. If you’re a man and personally follow more traditional dating etiquette, it’s perfectly fine to refuse your date’s offer.
No matter what, you should at least genuinely offer to pay and not just do “the reach.” Understand that every person you meet might have different values when it comes to this, however, so be open and don’t judge a person based solely on how he or she treats this sometimes key dating moment.
7. Bring a gift
A small token, such as a gorgeous stem or even a small bouquet is a charming traditional touch anyone will appreciate. For the most part, the rule is to bring something that won’t last, whether it’s a blossom or a small chocolate. You won’t soon be forgotten after this move.