Out to impress? 10 tips for a first date!
It can be more unnerving than a final exam, but if you want to make sure your first date with someone is a success, here's what you need to keep in mind.
So you've finally landed some one-on-one time with the object of your affections and now you're so nervous you feel like you're going to stay stuck in the loo all evening.
Fear not -- help is at hand, and we don't mean in the form of Imodium.
No sir, we're gonna build up your confidence, we're going to get you fully pepped, we're gonna make sure this is the best goddamn date of your life! All you've got to do is follow our cue -- read on!
1. Make sure you've chosen the right venue
You picture the two of you boogeying down in a nightclub and then landing up in a dark corner for some coochie-cooing?
Because the picture in your head is far different from what's actually going to happen. You'll either be shouting over the thumping music to each other all night or then reduced to just smiling and nodding. If it's crowded, even worse -- getting jammed together by the bar, while you try hard not to spill drinks on each other every time you're jostled is not an ideal situation.
Good conversation is the key to success on a first date. So you need to go where you can talk, laugh and get to know each other. That leaves out the theatre too -- trying to strike up a convo while other folks are trying to catch the dialogues may result in a bucket of popcorn being tossed at you from the back rows.
Choose a nice, couple-y restaurant -- not so couple-y that you spot ears being licked and footsie being played under the table, but one where you're both comfortable enough with the ambience to be able to train all your attention on each other.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
Image: Make sure you've chosen the right venue
2. Make the right conversation
So we mentioned good conversation and you're already tongue-tied -- expected. But stop obsessing over what you'll talk about and imagining total silence except for the occasional crack of breadsticks.
If both of you are forthcoming, things will just flow. If s/he's not, you take the lead -- ask a few questions about his/her family background, job etc and in return volunteer the same information about yourself.
Keep things light, though -- there's no need to bring up the emotional trauma you suffered when your dog died as a 11-year-old or ask about his/her parents' separation. Remember, this is a first date!
As the conversation unfolds, you'll quickly find out whether you're compatible as a couple or not. And yeah, please steer clear of potential debates -- don't get into a heated exchange about politics, religion or any controversial topic.
Also, refrain from blabbing continuously about yourself -- the conversation has to be an equal exchange if it is to count as a success or you'll gain a reputation as the 'I-love-me' serial dater!
Image: Make the right conversation
3. Dress appropriately
Your clothes need to spell 'I made an effort for you, but hey, it's still me', not 'd-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e'.
Keep in mind where you're going or you'll end up looking like an out-of-place waiter in a tux at a McDonald's. Or a tart who doesn't have anything larger than a hankie in her wardrobe.
Sure, you're going all out to look great, but you need to send out the right signals. And that means dressing well, but not going over the top.
Image: Dress appropriately
4. Mind your manners!
Have you ever tried talking to someone who's digging their nose, has a finger in their ear or is scratching their butt?
Try as you may to ignore it, you can't -- and it's a BIG turn-off.
When on a first date, you need to ensure that you come across as well-groomed and well-mannered. At dinner, don't dart for the last chicken wing and don't stuff your face like a glutton. Enjoy a leisurely meal and try to focus your attention on the opposite person -- that means no entertaining cellphone messages or calls unless they're important. And guys, particularly -- no scratching your unmentionables in public!
Remember to be polite with restaurant staff, valets etc and leave a decent tip or you'll come across as arrogant and a cheapskate.
Image: Mind your manners!
5. Don't try too hard
Okay, now you're going to get really confused with the do-this-not-that advice, but here's the thing -- don't go so all out that you forget to be yourself. Your date needs to get to know the real you.
If you're going to put up a front, keep in mind that you're going to crash and burn. Don't pretend to be anything that you're not and make sure that your overtures to make a good impression are not so exaggerated that they leave you exhausted.
Hanging onto his/her every word and getting overly-attentive are not only a false cover, they're also a turn-off. You'll come across as clingy.
Image: Don't try too hard
6. Don't be too judgemental
Just because he's wearing the wrong fit of jeans or her perfume is too strong is no reason to start sizing up someone. You have to give people a chance.
Reserve judgements for later, when you've gotten to know your date a little better and have a better idea of your compatibility and chemistry. Nobody is pressuring you into a relationship and even if you've taken the initiative to ask someone out, there's no reason why you can't leave it at that if you don't want to take things further.
But do keep an open mind -- if you start finding fault with every little thing, it's not really suprising that this is a first date after all, because you can't find anyone who matches your impossibly high standards.
Image: Don't be too judgemental
7. No exaggerating (read lying)!
Sure, you want your date to think highly of you. But creating a false impression is worse than failing to impress.
Remember -- winning a go-kart race at age 15 doesn't make you a professional race car driver, nor does being first runner-up in the Miss Kandivali 1999 competition make you an ex beauty queen.
Don't try to create false perceptions about your career, salary or domestic set-up either. There is nothing worse than being exposed as a fraud, especially after you've embarked upon a relationship -- and that's where we all hope the first date will go, isn't it?
Image: No exaggerating!
8. Don't bring up the ex
This is really a first date killer.
Going into detail about what went wrong in your last relationship and all the shortcomings of your ex is sure to scare off a potential boyfriend/girlfriend -- it may feel to them like you're sending out warning signals about everything you won't tolerate. Plus, it'll look like you're not really over it yet.
If it comes up in conversation, okay -- but after a minute or so please do move on and change the subject! There's nothing more boring than hearing intimate details of someone's love life when you're trying to boost your own.
Image: Don't bring up the ex
Assuming the date has gone well, it's now time to drop the lady home. And both are fidgety as hell because neither quite knows how to say goodbye -- a handshake is ridiculous, a hug is awkward in the car and you don't know whether to lean in for that first kiss or not.
This is one thing you have to play by ear -- if you've discovered on your outing that you have fabulous chemistry with each other and definitely see yourselves going out again, a light kiss may be okay. If things have been good but not fabulous, the safer way would be a quick peck on the cheek.
Guys, just make sure you're receiving the same signals from your date -- if you're the only one that's feeling the love and try to move in too quickly, you may have to settle for a punch on the lip instead of a smack! And ladies, you don't want to create the impression that you come on too strong.
10. The follow-up
This by far is the most nail-biting part of the whole affair -- the day after!
If you've hit it off and already made plans to see each other again, great. If you haven't and have no intention of taking the person out again, don't unnecessarily promise to call or make another date knowing you're not going to end up going. Not only is such behaviour misleading, you can be sure his/her friends will also hear of your copping out and avoiding calls -- and that's not a reputation you want.
If things are the other way around -- you seem interested and your date doesn't, leave it at that. Give yourself leeway for one call or one SMS. If s/he doesn't seem to respond favourably, cut your losses and move on.
Don't over-analyse things, because they will only play on your mind the next time you take someone out on a first date -- remember, every person is different.
But let's hope you're lucky the first time around!
Image: The follow-up