You like him. He asked you out (or maybe you asked him – hell, yeah, sistah). Here are some first date tips – the dos, the don’ts and the for-god’s-sake-don’t-ever-do-thats.
Where should we go?
‘Do aim for something to do on a first date, like a walk by the river,’ says relationship and first date tip expert Elizabeth Sullivan, aka The Love Mentor. ‘Pick a route where you know there’s a nice pub and, if it’s going well, stop off. If it isn’t, you can meet your friends afterwards to chew it over.’
Don’t go to cinema. Everyone thinks the cinema is a great first date tip, but it isn’t. ‘There’s limited conversation and you won’t get to know each other at all,’ she says. Want to keep it light? Sullivan suggests your local board game café. ‘A round of Guess Who or Connect Four lets you enjoy the conversation while having something to do.’
What should I eat?
‘Do order what you want,’ says Sullivan. ‘And don’t pretend to like something if you don’t.’ That said, if you’re a bit of a messy eater, you might want to save the spaghetti/ seafood platter for date number two. You don’t want his lasting memory of the evening being you wrestling with a crab.
What are we going to talk about?
Do relax. ‘If you’ve got the right guy,’ says Sullivan, ‘you honestly won’t need a list of topics. But, if you simply don’t think you can manage without one, jot a few words on your phone and consult when he’s in the loo (or when you are).’
Do ask him questions. ‘If you’re genuinely interested in him, the conversation will flow.’ If you’re curious and ask about him, it will also make you less self-conscious (first date tip: beware over-enthusiastic questioning. Could get a bit Gestapo.)
Do watch yourself. ‘Be aware of yourself as you sit with him,’ says Sullivan. ‘Your natural response to him is the best litmus test to working out if he’s a good match.’
Anything I shouldn’t say?
‘Don’t talk about the time you were fired, or when your friend caught you having sex with her boyfriend. Don’t tell him that. In fact, steer away from other men/exes territory all together.’ You don’t have to come across all super-positive, but don’t dwell on current problems on a first date – opening up can come with time. ‘Always seem excited about the future, not laden down with the past.’
‘Do tell a funny, embarrassing story about yourself. Especially if you don’t want to see him again. If you like him, save it till after sex.’
What am I going to wear?
Do make an effort. ‘He asked you out because he fancied you,’ says Sullivan, ‘So wear something that’s sexy and comfortable.’ (Yes, it is possible, no not your silky pyjamas ). A great pair of jeans and a cute top, maybe.
Don’t go very casual or vavavoomy, either. ‘Save the Catwoman outfit for the third date,’ advises Sullivan.
How can I tell if we click?
Do listen when he’s talking (rather than trying to think of what to say next), and don’t expect him to “get” you the way your friends do immediately. ‘Remember, men are not hairy women. They’re different,’ says Sullivan. ‘That said, if he’s super-emotionally intelligent and does get you, don’t let him get away.’
Do see a first date as an opportunity to assess him. ‘If you find yourself thinking he’s fantastic, cut that thought dead,’ says Sullivan. ‘Remember, you’re fantastic. Say it silently to yourself.’ (Silently, people.) ‘Say “I’m fantastic”.’
‘Do be nice to him, but don’t make him more important than he is.’
Soooo…how do I get out early?
Do be honest and kind. ‘It takes nerves but you could say, “I’ve had a nice time but don’t think this will go anywhere. It’s been lovely meeting you,’ says Sullivan.
Or use the meeting-in-the-morning excuse. (Everyone’s done it and we all know it’s a kind way of saying, ‘See ya!’)
Don’t say something ridiculous. ‘The worst excuse I’ve ever heard was a man who said he had to leave because this was normally his admin night and he had loads of bills to pay.’ Sheesh!
How can I do myself justice?
Do put across a true version of yourself if, perhaps, a bit better than you are (oh come off it, we all do it).
Don’t be someone else entirely. There’s no point pretending you’re a gym bunny who spends her weekends hiking, when an afternoon of shopping in Westfield leaves you shattered. It. Will. All. Come. Out. Possibly on a hiking date.
Do relax. The more at ease you are the more likely he’ll follow suit.
How do I bag a second date?
‘Do smile more than usual and laugh if you like him,’ says Sullivan. ‘Make sure he knows you’re enjoying yourself.’ (Do we need to spell out that there are limits to the smiling/laughing thing? Okay – there are limits – no crazy-lady stuff.)
Do invite him to ask you for a second date – by sort of suggesting it. ‘Say, I had a great time tonight. It would be lovely to catch that movie/ go to that restaurant, soon.’
Don’t worry about being pushy and don’t wait for him to ask. ‘Show you’re keen – most men will be flattered.’ (And the ones that run scared aren’t worth your time.)