5 First Date Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

8. June 2010

As the old adage goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”. So when it comes to first dates, you’ve got to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. But in the stressful hours leading up to your first date with someone new, you’re bound to make a social faux pas or two. There are five common mistakes that can derail any first date…and each of those five mistakes can be easily avoided by using the tips listed below.

1. Running Late

The Problem: In your attempts to look clean and put-together, you spend way too long picking out a perfect outfit and styling your hair…and show up for your dinner date half an hour late. Whether you are the one running late, or the person who has to wait around for your date to show up, lack of punctuality can start the evening off on the wrong note.

The Solution: Set an alarm on your watch or cell phone to go off 15 minutes before you need to leave your house. Pick out your outfit and accessories the night before your date, and make sure to review directions to the place where you are meeting your date to ensure that you don’t get lost.

2. Talking Too Much (or Too Little!)

The Problem: Everybody knows that first dates are nerve-wracking, and we aren’t always at our personal best when we’re stressed out. Some of us talk too much when we’re nervous, and some of us freeze and completely clam up. The result: your date is either bored to tears by your blabbering or frustrated by your inability to hold up your end of the conversation.

The Solution: Great first dates often boil down to great conversations. So how do you have one? Simple: think of the conversation as a tennis match. Keep the conversational “ball” in play, and you’ll make a great first impression. Whenever you “return the serve”, try to keep the flow of the dialogue going by asking questions.

3. Treating the Date Like an Interview

The Problem: You’re so concerned about awkward silences during your date that you memorize dozens of questions to keep the conversation moving…and end up sounding like an investigative reporter.

The Solution: Questions are a great way to keep the conversation going, but too many questions can put your date on edge. Rapid-fire questions are a bad idea; instead, try to pepper your questions throughout the date and fill the rest of the conversation with stories or observations. Don’t be afraid of small silences: they’re totally natural. After all, you need to breathe, drink, and eat during the evening, meaning a little silence is a necessary thing during any first date.

4. Over-indulgence

The Problem: You have entirely forgotten the meaning of the word “moderation”. You drink a little more than you should have, and you stuff your face with appetizers and desserts. You feel too bloated or drunk to be an attentive date…or worse yet, you get embarrassingly drunk and vomit.

The Solution: First date jitters can cause us to stuff our faces and drink more than usual just so we keep our hands and mouths busy. Alternate your drinks: between every pint of beer or glass of wine you consume, have a glass of water. Every person’s alcohol tolerance is a little different, so there’s no strict limit on how many drinks you should have in an evening…but keep the number to single digits (somewhere between 0-3 drinks is probably safe for most people).

If you are concerned about eating responsibly, have a healthy snack before heading out to dinner. A plate of cheese or some chips and hummus can help you make smart dining decisions later in the evening, meaning that maybe you’ll be more likely to make a great first impression. You shouldn’t starve yourself, but gorging yourself on a giant platter of food can seem unattractive to your date.

5. Not Being Present

The Problem: Your attention span is shorter than the run of the TV show “Viva Laughlin”, and you just aren’t paying attention when your date talks. But it’s not just daydreaming that can be disastrous…talking about the future (instead of focusing on the present moment) can also derail a date that is going well. Marriage, children, and other long-range personal goals can be a huge turn-off. It’s your first date…don’t start planning your life with this person before you’ve even ordered dessert!

The Solution: Staying focused on your date can be hard, even if you are really interested in them. Maybe you’re stressing about your breath, or worried that you have spinach in your teeth. Or maybe you’re getting older, and you’re looking to get married and start a family as soon as possible.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Think before you open your mouth. Most importantly: have fun. Don’t even think about scheduling the next date….just enjoy spending time with this new person and getting to know them. Be present in the moment, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of scoring a second date.

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