Just by quickly browsing the web, you're sure to find plenty of dating advice, such as what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what you should talk about, and what you should never write about on your online profile. Despite the useful nature of much of this information, anyone who has been on a successful date will no doubt tell you that the ones which rank among the best are those where you feel comfortable enough to be your true self.

That said, there are some things you should certainly aim for, and some things to avoid on any first date, whether you are male or female. Here are 13 top tips to making a good first impression.

Don’t be a passive ‘yes’ person

Being a pushover impresses nobody. Here's an example: Your date arranges a meal at a restaurant specialising in seafood, and you don’t like seafood. What do you do? Should you wait until you're sitting in a booth ready to place an order before mentioning your dislike of fish? Or should you order something and then only eat a couple of bites before giving up? Of course not! That will just create awkwardness between you, and your date will feel inadequate or put out for making arrangements that didn't suit you. You should say something straight away when your date discusses any arrangements that are not suitable for you. Expressing your likes and dislikes isn't wrong, it just shows you have self-respect and confidence. Speaking up is attractive, so have no fear of verbalising your needs and wants. You are not being bossy, you are just demonstrating that you like to keep the communication channels open.  

Being late is not sexy

It’s a mistake to believe that you will come across as desirable, mysterious or cool by turning up late to a date. This is not appealing. You simply appear unreliable and inconsiderate. Lateness on a first date implies you have poor time management skills or worse, that you don't think your date is important enough to make any effort for. If your date kept you waiting, how would you feel? Take plenty of time to prepare yourself and turn up on schedule to improve your chances of having a successful date.

Choose comfortable and respectful clothing

Avoid poor clothing choices on a first date. Women should avoid dresses or skirts that are too short, teetering heels that are way too high to walk naturally in, and tight clothing that you need to adjust constantly. These kinds of clothing can send the wrong message, and anything that needs constant adjustment or attention to will leave you feeling self-conscious and anxious throughout your date. For men, there is no need for over-formal dress, but turning up in flip flops and a vest is also a bad idea. If your date is looking her best, you're going to feel uncomfortable, and what's more, you're showing her that the date wasn't as important to you as it was to her. Choose something you feel good in and something you know makes you look nice while still being comfortable and modest.

Put your phone down

In today's modern world, it's hard to avoid looking at your phone every minute, but think about it: if you are spending your entire first date religiously checking your messages, you appear disinterested and rude. It's impossible to make conversation with anyone who is constantly checking their smartphone, so if you find you're giving your phone more attention than your date, it isn't likely they will want to see you again. In fact, turn off your phone altogether so that you can't be distracted by alerts and texts. And more importantly, avoid updating your Facebook status or Tweeting about what you're getting up to while you are with your date, even if they are away in the bathroom! Nothing could be more of a turn-off!

Leave past relationships in the past

Many people like to date again, straight after a relationship comes to an end. In reality, they are unlikely to be ready for a new partner, and are simply seeking to remove the pain of the void they are experiencing. It is important to bear in mind that finding a new partner will not heal that pain any more quickly, and the process could even backfire, leading to more heartache. You'll probably end up comparing your ex with your new partner, leaving you wishing you were still with your ex more than ever, or preventing you from getting to know your new partner for the person they truly are. Never allow your impression or judgement of your date to be obscured by unresolved emotions for your ex-partner.

Don’t be shallow

It's a common mistake - trying to impress a date with incessant chat about an ex partner or dating history, or boasting about the amount of time you work out in the gym, or even bragging about how so many people comment that you are a dead ringer for someone famous. Not only do these tactics fail, but they make you appear immature and self-obsessed. It's possible you may even intimidate your date, sending a message that physical qualities mean more to you than other factors. So up the game and act in an adult-like manner. Should you wish to talk about recent achievements, show humility and don't boast. You are much more likely to impress a date this way than by bragging about the number of people who want to invite you out.

Eat sensibly

Too many ladies think that they are going to appear sexy, skinny and cool by choosing not to eat when on a date, or by just picking at their food. They are wrong. Men don't want to go out with women who don't dine with them, it just makes them feel uncomfortable. And on the other hand, neither of you should go overboard with eating too much. Eating a regular sized portion shows you can enjoy a meal, that you are bothered about your own health, and that you also have self-control. Also eat at a sensible pace, neither too slow or too quickly, or you run the risk of your date wondering about unusual or unhealthy habits.

Don't avoid trying to pay

Even if you are a firm believer that your date should pay the entire bill, this is never a safe assumption for a first date. Always make an offer to share the cost, or, at an absolute minimum, ensure you leave a tip. Of course, if you offer to split the bill, you should be prepared to see it through – don't mess your date around. Should your date refuse your offer to pay, suggest that you cover the cost of the next activity, whether that be a taxi, movie tickets, or just snacks for both of you. This will prove you aren't a freeloader.

Avoid making demands or expressing unrealistic expectations

Avoid bringing up anything significant or unrealistic that you expect from the relationship on your first date. While it's fine to mention that you are hoping to meet someone special to spend your future with, and that you might even like to have children one day, you shouldn't spell out all that you desire, or any potential disappointments that your partner could bring. For example, don’t talk about your expectations that your partner should love your mother and get along well with your whole family; or that you would never accept someone who doesn’t agree with your religious (or lack thereof) values. Get to know each other a little first, before launching into anything that may or may not become a problem for the two of you. If you are compatible and can get along well, then down the track you will be able to resolve obstacles and compromise on any different perspectives. Also, don’t express shallow demands. For example, don’t talk about your expectations for expensive birthday or anniversary gifts, or the dismay you would feel should your partner let your birthday or anniversary slip by. The two of you firstly need to establish whether or not you want to go out on a second date before setting up rules for the longer-term future. And the secret to a happy relationship has more to with some basic elements of respect and consideration. To find out more, you can read my article on how to achieve a happy relationship at this link

Don’t drink to get drunk

Without preaching, it is essential to bear in mind that if a virtual stranger has to carry you home after a date, they probably won't want to invite you out again. There is nothing less appealing than someone who vomits in a taxi, sobs at the restaurant table, or behaves in any other unacceptable manner with a new partner. Although a few alcoholic beverages will help you to loosen up and enjoy yourself, keep in mind your limits and stick to them.

Keep your questions simple

On your first date, conversation is the key to getting to know your partner, but thinking of topics can be a challenge. There are plenty of neutral and useful questions you can ask which will keep the conversation flowing. For example, topics around career interests, work, sport, hobbies and music are helpful, whilst other topics should definitely be avoided. These include past relationships, family problems, political leanings, or subjects on religion. These personal topics are better discussed further into your relationship, should it progress. After parting ways on a first date, the impression of each other you want to aim for should be a happy and light one, with the sentiment of enjoying each other's company and getting along. If the two of you are genuinely compatible, the most simple of questions can flow onto all kinds of natural topics that will help you get to know each other.

Less is more

As a follow-on from the last point, it's important to avoid revealing too much about yourself during your first date. Even if you have always dreamed of a Mexican beach wedding, or if you've chosen names for all the babies you're going to have, these details should certainly be kept private until you know each other better. There are a host of personal issues you should also not volunteer such as work problems, medical issues, family difficulties and above all, previous relationships. Although these subjects are all valid, the time to raise them is further down the line when your relationship has moved forward. Remember, your date knows nothing about you, so discussing your worries and problems cold only make them think that you are the one who is possibly a problem!

Don't look desperate

While texting each other after a first date, or contacting each other on social media is fine, you should follow certain rules. A casual message the following day is ok as long as you avoid going overboard. For example, messages which say “Had fun, hope you did too!” is great, but “OMG had the best time ever, you're so great! Have to see you tomorrow! Text back!” is better avoided. You should also refrain from stalking your date on Facebook or Twitter until you have gone on a few more dates. Appearing mysterious can be powerful!

Conclusion

The build up to your first date is exciting, and it’s completely normal to feel some anxiety combined with the hope of meeting a special someone to form a relationship that is stable and happy. The overall important rule that captures much of what has been discussed in this article is: “Keep it simple”. Don’t try too hard to impress. Try to relax, be comfortable, and let things flow naturally. And if any of your first dates should progress into something more, and you are wondering if this is the real deal, you can investigate more by reading my article here on the type of partner you should forever hold on to.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   


Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS