It’s true, you really do only have one chance to make a good first impression. So with that in mind, here are my 5 First Date Commandments:
I. Thou shalt consider thy clothing.
Put some thought and effort into what you’ll be wearing. Clothing to avoid: anything sloppy/shabby, too baggy, too tight/revealing, and woefully out-of-date. You want to wear something somewhat stylish that’s flattering on you. If you tend not to be a good judge of these things, ask the friend whose style you admire to help you pick something out. And if you fall into the “woefully out-of-date” category (you haven’t updated your style in nearly a decade or more), then you want this same friend to go shopping with you. Don’t, however, wear something that makes you feel alien to yourself or totally uncomfortable (I know those 6-inch heels make your legs look magnificent, but they’re causing you to lurch like Frankenstein!). And men, it’s not okay to wear a tank top to—well, anywhere. Ever.
II. Thou shalt be a considerate conversationalist.
This is your first opportunity to really learn something about each other, so it’s very important that there be an equal exchange in the conversation. Ask questions of your date and really listen to their answers. We can sometimes get so caught up in what we want to say next that we miss what’s being said. Another way attention can be diverted away from your date is your phone. Show your date the ultimate courtesy and turn off your phone.
A side note on what not to talk about: avoid anything really negative (this especially includes negative talk about your ex). Yes, we all have opinions on things and among those are negative opinions, but if you start voicing those to someone who barely knows you, you risk your date seeing you as a downer or a complainer. This conversation with you is all your date has to go on for now—they don’t know about your optimistic side yet—and they may fill in some blanks and assume the worst.
III. Thou shalt not hastily judge.
As a dating coach, I’ve heard this statement many times: “I know within 15 minutes if s/he’s right for me.” How can you be sure? I guarantee that, if this is your philosophy, you’ve missed out on a couple of great people. You have to remember that hardly anyone is completely relaxed and themselves on a first date, so give them a second date and another chance to be the really great person that they might be. Of course, if your date is rude, scary or otherwise repellent, then you are well within your rights not to go out with them a second time.
IV. Thou shalt relax.
I can guess that you may be thinking “Relax? You just told me I need to worry about what to wear, what to say and what to think! How can I possibly relax when I have to keep track of all of that?!” It’s okay, you don’t need to worry about those things, just be mindful of them. Everyone—everyone—is nervous to some degree on a first date. The key here is to be genuine. You can never relax if you’re trying to be someone you’re not. So when you feel yourself getting a little amped up on the nerve scale, take a couple of deep breaths and remember that your date is a little nervous, too.
V. Thou shalt be gracious.
No matter how you feel about the person you just spent a couple of hours with, always be kind when you’re parting ways. If you are certain that you never want to see this person again, thank them for their time and tell them that it was nice meeting them. Do not say “We should do this again sometime,” if you don’t mean it. All you have to say is “Take care.” This will usually get the message across in a subtle and respectful way. If, however, you would really like to see this person again, then let them know you really enjoyed spending time with them. A smile and a light touch on their arm as you tell them this is an indication of your genuineness—this goes for both men and women.
There you are, some basics for a more enjoyable first date experience. Now, go forth and date!
—Heidi Wicks, Dating Coach