The official first day of spring is just around the corner. And, as the weather changes, many singles start to focus again on dating and finding that someone special. One fundamental thing to keep in mind while you’re dating is that first dates are what set relationships into motion. Like it or not, your date will be judging you from the minute he or she meets you. In fact, what happens on a first date influences the success of the date itself, and it forms the other person’s impression of you going forward.
Below are 8 strategies to help you make the best impression on a first date. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good lasting impression, so make it a good one! Happy spring dating!
- Plan ahead. Take time to think about what you’ll do and say on the first date. Plan what kind of image you want to present. Rehearse questions, make a list of possible topics to talk about, and make reservations in advance for dinner, the theatre, or wherever you plan to go. By planning ahead, you’ll come across as a person who cares and makes plans, is serious about dating, and considers the date to be important.
- Dress up. Focus on your outer appearance. How you dress on a first date not only leaves a lasting first impression, but it also signals to your date future ideas about you! Again, you want to come across as a person who cares and is serious about dating. And don’t worry, you aren’t hiding your true nature, just putting your best “you” forward. If that means dressing up a bit—great!
- Ask questions and listen well. Many people spend the entire first date talking about themselves. My advice? Don’t. You may feel the need to “sell” yourself to your date, but in reality, your date won’t like it. Instead, ask the other person questions about themselves, what they like to do, and their favorite activities. Someone who asks questions is seen as interesting and attractive on first dates. If your date asks you question after question, which may be a nervous defense to avoid having to talk about him or her, take charge and say, “Enough about me. I’d love to hear a lot more about you.”
- Pump up the humor. Humor makes any date better. If you are too serious, you might give off the vibe that you are “too much work to be with” and not much fun. Smile and laugh. That will put your date in a good mood. But whatever you do, stay away from self-deprecating humor. Making fun of yourself may seem like a disarming way to break the ice, but it isn’t funny and screams low self-esteem.
- Use body language to show interest. When people are interested in someone romantically, they often give nonverbal signals to the other person long before they say a single word. People can signal interest with their eye contact, smile, posture, and body movements. On your first date, if you like or are interested in the other person, be sure to use your eyes or body movements to show you are approachable, and to make a good first impression.
- Reveal gradually. On a first date, many people make the mistake of laying it all on the table, the good and the bad, so your date knows exactly what he or she is getting into and what you’re all about. Instead, disclose personal things gradually. If this person is right for you, there will be plenty of time to unfold, and that will make you endlessly exciting and interesting, rather than burdensome and overwhelming. Also, don’t discuss your ex-partner, why your marriage didn’t work, or your children’s woes too soon. If revelations are necessary, make them as brief and neutral as possible.
- Keep it short. Two hours is ideal for a first date, and a meal is a good choice because it has a beginning, middle and end. When the check comes, your date is over. If it seems too brief, make another date!
- Similarity. It is very common to be attracted to the wrong type of person, or to your opposite. Typically this happens because you are fascinated with people who aren’t like you. But, if you want to find someone to grow old with, look for someone who has underlying values and attitudes that are similar or compatible to yours.
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®) is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, as well as a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of 5 best-selling books, including “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.” Learn more about her at: DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.