8 Tips for a Successful First Date

Katie Buckleitner

First dates can be totally nerve-wracking! Jitters become butterflies that become excitement and nervousness (and, if you’re me, an upset stomach and sweating...so much sweating). What do we wear? How do we act? What should we expect? Worry not. I have been on many a first date, worked through all that sweating, and I am here to help. First dates should be fun and low-pressure. Remember that you are an amazing catch, and follow these tips!

1. Safety first!

Meet in a public place, tell more than one person where you’re going and at what time. And most importantly, bail if you’re uncomfortable at any time and don’t feel bad about it! Trust your gut.

2. What should I wear?

Don’t wear something you’d never wear in real life—your date wants to get to know you, so this is all about being yourself! But the effort you put into your outfit does convey a message about how serious you are about this date. You don’t need to put on a ball gown or tuxedo, but just clean up and look nice. Nice jeans and a nice shirt, or a cute sundress in the summertime.

3. No more than two alcoholic drinks.

If you are over 21 and will be drinking on your date, that’s okay. But don’t drink more than two drinks. Don’t get drunk, and be alert. It’s easy for someone to take advantage of a drunk person, and you don’t want your inhibitions to be lowered so much that you start making bad decisions. Also, it just looks bad. You want to be yourself on your date, not falling over drunk. If you’re serious about this date, then limit the alcohol.

4. Stay away from serious personal topics like past relationships.

First dates are for getting to know someone on a more surface level—getting a feel for who they are and figuring out if you’re interested in going on a second date. Stick to safe topics like music, food, movies, video games, etc. That’s not to say that you can’t talk about things you’re really passionate about or things that you care deeply about and are important to you. Definitely do that if the conversation goes in that direction! But there is no need to bring up any past relationships on a first date, any painful breakups, or anything embarrassing.

5. Who pays? Well…

This one is tricky. It really comes down to personal preference. I’ve been on dates where the guy paid on the first date, then I paid on the second date to even things out. I was on a date where I paid for a dessert that we shared after he paid for dinner. And I’ve been on a date where the guy blatantly asked me to split the check.

I don’t subscribe to typical gender roles, but I personally do feel like the first date is where the guy makes the effort in this department—him paying is the gentlemanly and socially acceptable thing to do. However, to be safe and not presumptuous, when the bill comes, reach toward it and start to pull your wallet out—he’ll either say not to worry because he’ll take care of it, or he’ll ask to split it with you. Either way, you’ll learn just how you feel about this.

Side note: a friend told me that on dates, he takes out his credit card when the server first comes over, hands it to the server, and asks the server to open a tab and put everything they order on that tab. That way, right up front, there’s no question who is paying. It’s a nice gesture, and a smart and smooth move.

6. It’s totally okay to kiss on the first date—if you want to!

Again, this comes down to personal preference. I recommend going with the flow and doing what feels right and what you’re comfortable with. If a first date goes really well and I want to see this person again, I go in for the kiss. You’ll know in the moment. But don’t feel any pressure to kiss, hug, or even shake hands when a date is over. The other person should respect any boundaries. And I would recommend doing no more than kissing on a first date; you still don’t know this person that well yet.

7. Have fun!

It’s so easy to get self-conscious and nervous before a first date. The other person might be feeling the same way, too! But just remember that you’re amazing, and to be yourself. The worst that can happen is that the date doesn’t go well and you’ll never have to see this person again.

7. Post-date text

If you had a good time, shoot them a text a little later that day/night and let them know you enjoyed spending time with them. This will let them know whether you are interested in going on another date with them. That puts the ball in their court to follow up and maybe ask you out again.

By Kaitlin Konecke

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