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Surviving a First Date

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So you've finally taken that first step and asked someone out for a date. Even better, they've agreed. A time and a place have been arranged, you meet up and have the perfect date. Smashing!

But how do you get to that point? What preparations should you make in advance? In other words, what advice do you have for someone about to go on their first date?

This business is horribly complicated, it's tempting to take a vow of celibacy...

If this is how you feel, then take a look at the information below, provided by the h2g2 Community, that will help you glide through your first date with ease and confidence.

Feeling Shy?

Wondering if you can keep the conversation going all night? In that case try an activity-based first date, (film, theatre, tenpin bowling, ice skating). This way you always can talk about what you are up to. And if you have chosen a film or play there is a whole part of the evening you are obliged not to talk to the other person!

A Sense of Humour!

Sometimes you need to have a touch of humour as well as a touch of class on your first date. The following Researcher experience is a case where humour is the best back up when even the best-laid plans go to waste.

I had the perfect first date picked out with this really attractive, smart girl - we were going to do a little star watching during a meteor shower and then retire for a quick bite at a little bistro and then back under the stars with a nice bottle of wine and some romantic music.
So what happens? Clouds! Lots and lots of clouds! Quickly falling back to Plan B - we caught a vintage movie at a restored movie theatre from the 1930s. Sadly, the film that night was The Guns of Navarone which while it might be an excellent film, isn't really a good date movie.
I offered to go to Plan C - (which I was frantically trying to come up with on the fly), but she decided to stick around and see the film since she'd never seen it or been inside the cool old theatre before. Unfortunately the movie is two and a half hours long - much longer than the version edited for television so we ended up missing our dinner reservation.
The only places open were bars and fast food places so we got burgers and fries and then I took her home since it was still cloudy. We laughed that it was perhaps the worst first date in history - and we wound up dating for a while and then got married. I sometimes think that things might not have gone so well with my wife and I if things had gone the way I planned...

Meeting Point

If the date is ever to happen, you have to meet up. Chances are, you don't really know each other's grasp of the local area, sense of direction, sense of timing and so on, so keep your meeting arrangements simple. Make your meeting point unmistakable: public - for safety if the other one doesn't arrive, but not somewhere so busy you miss seeing each other.

If the other person names a rendezvous that you don't know, speak up and say so until you choose somewhere mutually familiar. If you don't, you'll spend too much of the time worrying about getting lost or being late - you've got enough to worry about!

I've managed to miss someone on the first date (or maybe they missed me!) I went off with another guy, who the next day told the first guy all about it. It's almost surprising, isn't it, that I ended up marrying the first guy after all? See how close we came to missing out for good!

Although meeting at a public place is good, and definitely recommended, don't meet somewhere like a restaurant. If you get stood up you look like a fool to the staff and feel even worse to yourself. Somewhere like a pub, somewhere that you'd be comfortable on your own in case you end up being on your own. You then don't feel as bad if it goes horribly wrong.

Possibly the best place to meet someone is a record shop - you can always browse the shelves while you're waiting, and if you get stood up you can at least pick up a few bargains in the process.


The key to a successful first date is hiding all of one's weaknesses. There are certain things that each participator in the date will be looking for.

Entertainment value is important, because boring your date is the beginning of a walk off a pier. How to entertain is obviously up to the individual. Those without much confidence in his/her personality can rely on a variety of activities to keep the other occupied. Anything one does for entertainment by oneself is sufficient.

Lunch or dinner may be the most expensive part of the date, but it is also the most important. Buying one's date a meal hints that one will be able to provide for needs, and a willingness to cater to taste. Picking a restaurant is very important, and McDonald's or the local café usually does not suffice. A cup of coffee or tea might be appreciated, but it rarely conveys the same level of emotion that comes with a meal.

Many of the details depend on how well the two potential lovers know each other. If they had only just met, trust could be a serious issue that will hamper intimacy.

The final factor is deciding how much one is willing to risk. Extravagance only comes with having money, and strong desire. For the short-term, extravagance might be preferable for short-term impressions. On the other hand, it builds up high expectations for later on.

It is important to hide weaknesses, but without giving unrealistic expectations. In the end, what is important is a combination of confidence and compatibility. The venue usually does not make-or-break the date.

Some Ideas for Before you Get There...

  • Give yourself enough time - Don't try and rush your preparation into two minutes. Give yourself enough time to get ready, and cover eventualities. There's bound to be a few.

  • Go to the toilet - If you get nervous this will probably be happening quite often! Make sure you're not caught short as soon as you turn up!

  • Plan your journey - If you're going somewhere different, don't trust that you'll get there in time, check out your trains and stuff in advance. Also, if you're going somewhere you've not been before, make sure it's open on the day that you're going.

  • Clothing - Try and agree in advance what level to dress up to. You'll feel a plonker (could have phrased that better) if you turn up in jeans and they're ready for a garden party at the palace.

  • Buy one of those breath spray things - Well, it's not going to do any harm, is it?

  • Relax and be yourself - Unless you have a really unpleasant personality, of course.

Further Tidbits

  • Wear something you are comfortable in. If you are going to buy something new, make sure it fits and you try it on well in advance of the date. The last thing you want is half an hour before you are due to meet, finding out that your chosen outfit has an annoying itchy label in it and you are going to spend the whole date scratching. Choose shoes that won't leave you crippled and with feet sexily covered in blisters!

  • If you are going to wear fragrance, make sure it is subtle and fresh and isn't going to knock out the potential object of your affections!

  • Don't over-dust your nether-regions with talc, however much of a good idea it seems at the time. There is every chance, according to Murphy's Law, that you will regret it!

  • Avoid ultra-violet lights at all cost. You might be using a well-known dandruff cure, but you are bound to be using washing powder and that can leave little white specks all over your clothes. You will look star studded! Any artificial teeth are likely to show up, too.

It's Easy

Self-confidence is far more important than what you wear on your first date. You can wear a $2000 dollar dress, but if you are not comfortable, it will show. Same for the guys, just be clean and neat please!

If you like each other, you should be able to go just about anywhere and have fun. If the girl likes you for who you are, it shouldn't matter what car you drive or how much money you spend, as long as you are not being completely cheap and by not tipping or something (if you can't afford to tip don't take her out to eat, go for coffee instead). If you can't think of anything on your own, and you are anywhere near the beach take a moonlit walk (especially under a full moon) it is so romantic and sexy it's got to put you both in the mood - just dress warm and give her your jacket if she gets cold. Candles work too... and music, and flowers.

Be positive. Well, as much as possible. Your date will pick up on your good vibes, and you'll be that much more attractive. Remember, that excited, tingly, not-knowing feeling of the first date doesn't last forever, so enjoy it.

A few things not to do on a first date:

Please don't talk about your ex-girlfriend, or your 'other' girlfriends, or what your guy friends do with their girlfriends, or how hot Britney Spears is. Don't flirt with the waitress or check out other girls on the date. It is not romantic, it is not fun, it is not making your date the centre of your attention. Most women will be repulsed by this behaviour.

Don't grab, use vulgar terms for females or use four letter words when discussing intercourse. For example, don't lean over the dinner table and go, 'Wow you are such a sexy b...h, do ya wanna f..k? I know this is obvious to a lot of us but I actually had a date say something like that to me, as if I was just going to reply, 'Oh sure, honey!'


According to John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, men should take the initiative in planning the date and should expect to make the arrangements and pay the bills at least for the first few dates and definitely on the first one. Taking responsibility like this will relieve the woman of it and allow her to be taken care of and be treated as 'special'.

Women should be self-assured, receptive and responsive, which means appreciating the man's gifts, which means that if the film is lousy, she should not say so, as the man will immediately take it to mean she is criticizing him. A positive comment on some aspect of the date will be received as a positive comment on himself.

That's not to say that women can't disagree, it's how it's done that's important. Men like to be experts, so disagreeing in a way that shows difference and isn't competitive will help preserve honour, ie, saying 'I hold a different viewpoint on this', rather than saying 'I disagree'.

Men should be confident, purposeful and responsible. Men can tend to see a date as a sort of job interview and while they are marketing themselves, may neglect to ask questions in their turn.

Men should talk less than the women and ask her questions. If women mistakenly ask too many questions, the man, far from being more interested in her, will start to become more interested in himself. This is a real turn-off. The woman will then find that she cannot get a word in edgeways and it appears as if he is not interested in her, only in himself.

And, relax and enjoy the occasion. And at the end, if you've had a good time, or if you haven't, it's good to make contact so that the other person knows where they stand.


The problem is that us women are contrary things and each of us is different! It is a minefield and there is no simple solution. For every woman who wants to be paid for there are quite a few who would be insulted by the offer.
... and here's why:
There have been occasions where I have felt it appropriate to go Dutch, however this is usually with someone I have less than fully positive thoughts for and don't want to feel obligated.

As to paying or going Dutch, it probably depends on the circumstances of the date. If you've been introduced by, say, a dating agency, you are unlikely to know very much about the other person and it will very often feel safer to pay for yourself. If you've had a series of long conversations first, it is more likely that you will feel safer for the woman for the man to pay. With someone who has asked you face to face for a date, it's a different kettle of fish.

Another factor in this is whether the woman may feel obligated to be more physical than she may be ready for. In truth, there is no reason to feel obligated, however women may be lacking in confidence or men may be lacking in skill and discernment. No one should assume you'll sleep with them only because they've paid for dinner! If they do, they're not worth it.

Anyway, as a rule of thumb, men prefer to pay for dinner if they don't know you very well. If you feel uncomfortable with it or don't want to see the guy again, the best thing you can do is pay for the meal yourself and watch the guy zooming out!

If the guy insists on paying, the least you can do is smile nicely and say 'Thank you'. That'll make him feel all big and powerful and manly. With longtime friends or people you know you're going to see again, you could always take turns.

As for phoning to contact someone - it's just good manners. Some men, who are not sure of a date will tend to leave a woman hanging, thinking that at least they're not burning bridges. However, women have good memories and don't like being strung along. Much better for a man to ring and say that he's not sure right now, but he might like to get back together later. This allows the woman to get on with her life and if she's not free when he decides to call back, so be it.

If you've had a stinker of a date (your date reveals something that really puts you off them, for instance), it's often easier to say something at the time. Like 'thanks for the date (meal, trip to the cinema, walk, etc) - see you around sometime'. Or ring to say thank you for the date, hope you complete your assignment (or something personal), then something to indicate you won't be in touch, like you're not sure, haven't the time right now, feel you're not right for each other, etc.

If the woman doesn't hear and thinks the date went well, the advice is to wait a few days, then call to say hello, how much she enjoyed what they did on the date, the meal, the sights (things not him). Sometimes, if there's too long a gap, the right timing will pass. This just says, 'hello, I'm interested' and doesn't put pressure on or seem too pushy.

The dating world is such a minefield...

Conversation Killers

  • 'I have gaydar' - one of my friends actually said this!

  • 'Finger or whole fist?' - same as above.

  • 'That's not my leg...'

  • 'Are you winking at me?'

  • 'Do you like cheese?' - Never ever say this on a first date ever, you have been warned.

  • 'What's your sign?' - This seems innocent but get their opinion on Zodiac first!

And here are some classics culled from the h2g2 Community.

I recall, one magical summer evening, we gazed into each other's eyes and she asked me 'Tell me, have you ever considered plucking your eyebrows?' That was nice.

Or how about this little gem?

Springtime, dusk. My boyfriend and I are watching the sun go down from the top of the city. We haven't been going out very long. I ask him, what are you thinking about? 'My Physics exam. God, I hope I'll pass it.'

The basic rule of thumb is to be polite, keep your mind on your date and just use your common sense. Any obsessive hobby/fetish should be confined to the closet with the other skeletons to be dusted off at a later date. If you keep all that in mind, the evening should go swimmingly.

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