Ah, the first date. One of the more complex social rituals, it is a curious combination of a job interview, Christmas morning and a multiple-choice test, all packed into a couple hours of suppressed panic. It is a giant burrito that looks and smells wonderful at first, but until eaten, has equal potential to disgust or delight. There are countless variables that figure into initial adventures of the heart, but here we’ll focus on what you should and shouldn’t do to make sure the outcome of your first date is delicious and comfortable to all of the senses.
1- Spin the globe
Come into the first date with an arsenal of information on current affairs. Small talk is an inevitable verbal appetizer between two people who don’t know each other, and once you get past weather and work, you better have something interesting to say. Being informed tells your date that at least you are curious about the world around you, and that you are not apathetic, lazy and sheltered.
2- Settle down, and listen up
A common mistake some people make on first dates is to prove their value by immediately spewing forth their accomplishments before drinks are ordered. Be patient; you’ll get to ‘you’ in time. Instead of regurgitating resume highlights, demonstrate how wonderful you are by first asking questions, listening to the responses with genuine interest, than following up with further questions. If the date is worthy of you, the conversation will turn around and soon you’ll find yourself answering questions instead of asking them. Then you can talk about the volunteer work with manatees and the PhD in nuclear physics.
3- Believe the Boy Scouts
Forward-thinking is an attractive asset in a potential mate, so subtly demonstrate your smarts by being prepared. Pack non-bulky essentials on your person that your date may need during the course of the night, such as a pen, breath mints, gum, lighter, and chapstick, to name a few.
4- Pick a comfortable location
If it’s up to you to choose the spot for the first date, pick a place where you know one or more of the staff. This can be tricky, because if you walk in the door and everyone shouts your name and the bartender asks if you’ll be having the usual, it’s apparent that you spend a little too much time there drinking. But if you know one of the servers or hostesses, it gives you an opportunity to introduce your date with charm, and for them to see how you interact with other people. This is extremely important for a good first impression.
5- Show your stability
If you are lucky enough to have healthy relationships with most or all of your family members, make sure you talk about them with eagerness and acknowledgment of your good fortune. Whether your date comes from a broken home or shares your upbringing, you will demonstrate a capacity for love and affection, which indicates your kindness and overall stability. If your family background is less than perfect, talk honestly about your struggles and how you overcame them. By doing this, you will demonstrate determination and mental toughness, which is indicative of ambition and accomplishment.
1- Try to one-up your date
When your date tells a personal story about the past, avoid the natural tendency to ‘one-up’, even if it’s not your intention. If you’ve had a similar or comparable experience, feel free to talk about it, but do so after they finish speaking. Avoid injecting details that automatically diminish those of your date’s yarn.
2- Be distracted by your phone
Do not, under any circumstances other than extreme emergencies, text, take or make calls in the midst of talking to your date. If you absolutely have to reply to the string of emails circulating about Kim Kardashian’s accidentally see-through dress on the red carpet, then politely excuse yourself to the bathroom before going nuts. Have some respect for yourself and your date and turn your phone off before you sit down to eat or drink.
3- Bring up ‘touchy’ subjects
Religion and politics have no place on first dates. They are contentious subjects and can potentially end a good time before it has a chance to begin. Whether you’re a Jesus freak or atheist, or a heat-packing Republican or tree-saving Democrat, save the heavy stuff for dates down the road.
4- Be someone you’re not
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. The ‘be yourself’ cliché is undoubtedly old and overused, but on first dates it can’t be stressed enough. If you’re off-the-wall, bat-shit crazy to begin with, then do your thing without fear; maybe your date likes feeding police horses Caesar salad and mooning tour busses. But if you’re not crazy and you act like you are for one night in order to make an unforgettable impression, it will be what’s expected of you next time.
5- Reek of cologne or perfume
Smell evokes memories and forms associations more powerfully than any other human sense. Don’t lather yourself in your favorite scent on the first date, because you can’t be sure if it will trigger a negative subconscious reaction from your date. Go instead with a recent shower and simple deodorant. The last thing you want flashing through your date’s mind is the image of a troublesome ex or an old teacher who reeked of cologne covering up bad hygiene.