Sex & Relationships

7 Essential “First Date” Tips

Photo by Monty Brinton, CBS

First dates can be nightmares. Subjecting yourself to the judgement of a stranger while doing everything in your self control to make them think you’re their soulmate? Yeah no pressure and great odds.

Nonetheless, we do it. But even when two people are totally compatible, the date itself is a minefield of opportunities for your date to go ghost like Danny Phantom. Any little thing can cause it, from something as simple as a bad joke, a political affiliation, or mention of an ex. What might have otherwise turned out to be a perfect relationship is gone.

So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to single handedly and permanently solve dating for all of us with this contribution of answers to your dating FAQs. Look no further courageous single folk, here is everything we can advise based on our (way too extensive) personal experience.

@dingo via Twenty20

Tip #1: Grooming and fashion matter

There’s a lot of talk out there about not trying too hard. And that’s true. You shouldn’t. In most areas. But as far as dress and hygiene, ABSOLUTELY try as hard as possible. We’re not saying a three piece suit or a bikini wax is necessary, but without a doubt, look and smell as fresh and clean as possible. In both the medical and hip hop sense of the words. We’ve all heard or tried wearing sweats and a t-shirt on a date, leaving your hair the way it is when you’re fresh from a nap, wearing none or yesterday’s cosmetics, or even showing up with a backpack. And we can see a case for how these (not so) subtle details might make you seem like you don’t care. But if at all, you want to come of like you don’t care about how the date goes, not like you don’t care about yourself. And while we definitely don’t recommend it, we understand why some people might find a lack of effort attractive. But the key word is might, and what is always attractive, is simply putting your best, cleanliest, best dressed foot forward.

Tip #2: Decide if you like them (not the other way around)

Next, remember that you are on the date to get to know the person, not to audition. And that as much as you want them to like you, they are just as much there for your consideration as you are theirs. All too often, we feel lucky to get the date as if we’re a young comedian in LA trying to book his first sitcom. We put ourselves on trial and give them all the power to decide whether or not we’ll be in a relationship as if we wouldn’t be one half of it. So when you go on a date, folks, remember: they suck just as much as you do, and if it turns out they are just that much better at hiding it, they’re probably a sociopath and you’ll make a great couple. So judge, judge away.

Tip #3: Don’t just have fun

Pick a date that doesn’t distract from the process of getting to know someone. Yes you want to have fun, but if you really just want to go have fun, do LSD and play laser tag with your friends or take quaaludes and do an escape room. (both are illegal, don’t). Fun is one thing but the point of a date is to see if you might make a good couple. Dates are relationship practice. So don’t go play mini golf, cause you’re not preparing for the PGA tour. Ice skating could be great, if you plan on doing a duet in the winter olympics. Save those fun date goofy date nights for when your relationship is getting stale, three months in. 

Instead, get to know the person over something simple like coffee or a drink. It shows you’re confident, low maintenance, secure in your ability to entertain and truly interested in hearing your date speak. We’re not going to go as far as to say that every date should be two people on a laptop open to Netflix with a stopwatch, and those who fail to pick a movie in four minutes should delete each other’s numbers, but wait, yeah exactly that.

In 2018, you have options, it’s easy to find out who they are. Have a long convo, give them a shot and move on. That is, if you’re looking for something with a little more longevity and compatibility matters. In all honesty, relationships boil down to listening, fighting and fucking. So don’t go to the movies on a date, you are better off recording a podcast, making a porno, and kicking each other under the table at Panera bread for being too loud about how weird that guys’ ears are.

So now you’re on the date, you know what you’re looking for and you’re confident in who you are. How do you get to know someone? What is good first date conversation? What are the do’s and don’ts?

Well, it’s as simple as Kendrick Lamar put it: “Sit down. Be humble.” Yep, an always funny first date conversation starters is humbling yourself. More specifically, sharing something that embarrasses. And doing so at the top of the date really make you a hero because it disarms your date, shows them that you don’t take yourself too seriously and aren’t high strung. It shows them that you are flawed, self aware and open to correct. Which, obviously goes a long way in a relationship, so the sooner they know that, the more likely they are to start picturing how great it could be to be with you. Telling a story wherein there’s a little egg on your face (figuratively or literally) makes you easy to identify with. When we go on dates we are sucking in our guts, fixing our hair, watching our words and trying not to fart. When you show the other person that it’s okay to… well, be a person? They relax, and you get closer to the real them. They let their guard down because they can resonate with “Sorry, I’m five minutes late, we was brushing my teeth we accidentally gagged myself with my toothbrush and spit toothpaste on my shirt so we had to change three more times cause we’re nervous.” We promise it’s charming, even if that story is gross. Actually, we’d argue there’s an inverse relationship as far as charming and gross when it comes to stories about embarrassing yourself.

Tip #4: Don’t just hear: listen

Okay, so you’ve got some laughs, she’s excited for how this is going to go, now what? Keep embarrassing yourself? NO. The opposite, you showed that you’re human, you broke yourself down before her very eyes, now build yourself back up.How do we do that? Well, it involves a lot less talking than you’d think. You come off best, most cool confident, intelligent and impressive in the way you listen. 

The few words you chose to respond with, where your eyes are when she’s talking…these things say more for you than any monolog you could come up with. 

Ask questions about things that matter to you. Chances are you’ve been on a first date where you feel like even though you conversed the whole time you leave feeling like you don’t know the person very well. And that’s usually because on first dates both parties tend to be a little to scared to swim to the deep end of the proverbial first date pool and ask important questions. Even though it might seem scary, remember that the person you’re out with, is there for the same reason as you! They WANT to get to know you, and they want you to like them too! So set aside any irrational fear that if you inquire what his or hers’ biggest fear is you’ve suddenly come off weird and blown it. As a matter of fact, get right into it! Think of yourself as a private eye working for a client who happens to be your love life. And Love Life needs to know if this is the person who could be his soulmate. Get to the meat and potatoes.

If you care about the answer to the question you’re asking, you’ll really listen. If you ask your date what her dream job is, chances are you are eager to tell her yours and excited at the possibility of some common ground. You are investigating shared passions. Besides, being a good listener is sexy.

Tip #5: Ask questions you actually want to know the answers to…

There are plenty of questions we ask on dates because we feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do. And quickly the date becomes two people using roundabout inquiries to interview one another for a job maybe neither of them want. We sincerely had to remind myself on multiple occasions what college my ex attended. But, we can tell you exactly what her major was and what she plans to do with her degree. Simply because cold hard facts are a little boring, but there is an inherent story in what someone wants to achieve.

*Pro Tip: ask about where someone’s going, not where they’ve been.

Tip #6: …But don’t put them in the hot seat

When you ask someone about their fears, goals, achievements and failures you put them in the hot seat. You catch someone off guard when you ask them the big, deep stuff. And while there may be a moment when they are a bit taken aback, the truth is we are all eager for an opportunity to share what makes us tick. And when we connect over fears, goals, achievements and failures we make a way deeper, stronger connection than we would have with alma maters etc.

Okay, now that I’ve made that point, let me rescind it partially. Certain topics you may be passionate about are definitely things not to talk about on dates. Even if, ESPECIALLY IF, you think you’re on the right side of the argument, refrain from getting into anything related to politics, religion, or anything that someone would write about on a bumper sticker.

Tip #7: Be physical (but not creepy)

@anastasiyamashkina68 via Twenty20

We connect more when we’re touching. It’s science. We’re sure you’ve heard myths about how a ten second hug releases endorphins, or how sleeping next to someone increases their trust in you. How and why is a mystery to me but we’d imagine it has something to do with our parents hugging us too much or not enough, having evolved from apes, and valence electrons…or something. We’re animals, physical creatures that communicate through action and contact just as we do with verbal or written language. It’s body language. So, here are some small, subtle, safe, gentle appropriate—APPROPRIATE— times to touch. 

  • When you first arrive, you get one free hug. Everyone knows that. It’s probably why some of you weirdos go! But set the tone and show your interest immediately. Now it’s not a funeral hug, or a bear squeeze, but hold on just a second or two longer and glide off a little slow, letting your hands drag. It feels somewhat caring, it’s intimate and as long as you’re brief it’s kosher.
  • During a shared laugh, when one of you cracks a joke that gives you that, “we can’t breath” belly laugh, gently grab your dates arm or elbow for support. As if to say We’re going to fall out this chair because your so hilarious we literally can’t hold it together.
  • The “No he didn’t!” If there is a moment in your conversation where you find something unbelievable, react big (don’t scream) and thrust your hands down onto theirs briefly pausing their story as if it will stop the person in it from being harmed. This doubles down on how well you’re listening and also makes you look compassionate.
  • The sarcastic push. If and when you’re walking somewhere it’s always funny to pretend to be a jerk and with all the facetiousness in the world find an excuse to call your date a “Jerk” and give them a little push. (Do this with the strength of a baby–and not baby Hercules, like a normal one). It shows you’re playful and unconcerned with formality.
  • Finally, the goodbye. Not dissimilar from the hello but this is the dismount. Depending on how the date went a nice goodbye hug can be the perfect physical button to send your date heading home looking forward to getting to hold you again. Make it gently, ever so slightly longer than feels right, and this time put a hand on their ribs. It’s not sexually, but it’s intimate— and hey if they hate it they are about to walk away and ghost you for eternity so it doesn’t matter and you’ll never see them again!

Good luck out there, brave and desperate single folk. And remember, you are there to have fun.

Bottom Line

Don’t stress out over your first date–but don’t come completely unprepared, either.

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