Taking someone out on a first date can be one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences out there – especially if it’s someone you really fancy.
There’s a million questions you’re waiting to find out the answers to, an excited nervousness in the pit of your stomach of whether you’ll connect in person or not and that familiar curbing of your expectations even as you’re dressing to impress! But there’s no need to put all this pressure on yourself, just take a breath, relax and get ready to have fun.
Sign up to Match to start dating today
Whether you’ve taken a break and you’re getting back into the game or if you’ve not really dated before, Match is here to help you get started and get some first dates in your diary.
By signing up to Match, you can find someone whose company you truly enjoy, but remember that dating is a journey. A first date can go well or badly, but that’s no reason to give up on finding something truly unique. It’s important to always be open to new experiences, be safe and above all enjoy yourselves.
What to know before you go on a first date
From first date ideas to how to troubleshoot the most common first date problems, learning what to do on a first date can be as simple as watching a short video or reading an article. But what do you do before you go on a first date?
1. Plan where to go and when
A simple and obvious first step to a first date. Plan where to go and when. For some people, coffee is the ideal first meeting place, for others the allure of a bar in the evening is impossible to resist.
It’s important that you do something you’re comfortable with – or something that’s still fun even if you’re not great at it! Picking a location or activity that’s a little off-the-beaten-path can be the best option sometimes, taking someone to experience a new activity is definitely a way to be memorable.
2. Tell your friends where you’re heading off to
No matter your gender, staying safe should always be a main priority when dating. If you’re going to meet someone new, don’t be shy, let a friend know who you’re meeting, when and where. Even let them track your location on an app if it is dark or far away from home. It can also be pertinent to send over a screenshot of their dating profile to your friends so they know what your date looks like.
3. Write down the date and time
Use those diaries! Track your time and plan effectively so you don’t have any clashes with work or other events. It can also help to make sure that you accidentally forget that you’re going on a date.
4. Re-read the messages
There’s definitely some conversational points in there. Whether it’s kids or that moment they went hiking on the South West Coastal Path, show that you care by re-reading all the messages you’ve sent each other, you can ensure that you’ve got something to chat about and also remind yourself that you’ve already talked to this person – so don’t get nervous.
5. Pick an outfit
So you know where you’re going and what kind of person they are. Time to pick a look. Keep true to your personal style and make sure that you communicate who you are to the person you’re going on your first date with. If you’re going bowling, for drinks and dinner or just heading into the great outdoors, we have some great outfit ideas to inspire you.
6. Make sure you stay safe
As well as telling your friends where you’re off to, make an exit strategy so that if things go awry, you can leave. It’s best to be honest if you’re not enjoying yourself, but safety should always take priority. If you’re in a bar and they have a safeguarding policy, don’t be afraid to make use of it. If you’re heading out late, make sure that you’re meeting in a public space and if you’re just worried about your online dating life, check out some of our tips for staying safe.
Don’t forget that a first date isn’t the be all and end all – sometimes things take time and you might have to go on a lot of dates before you find someone who truly suits you.
A guide to asking questions on your first date
Keeping the question round light on a first date is key. No one has to feel uncomfortable answering a barrage of queries about their past relationships, intense political or moral pondering and questions you’ve pre-planned and sound script-like have the potential to give someone the ‘ick’.
It’s important to ask questions, talking about yourself can be easy (especially if you’re nervous) but if conversation is flowing, then questions come up naturally. That being said, here’s some conversation starters for the first few minutes into a date.
Remember: if you’re feeling too uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say you wish to leave or make excuses if you feel threatened. You shouldn’t feel pressured into staying out if you’re not having fun!
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?
Leaving the questions you ask on a first date slightly vague can actually tell you a lot about a person. It offers them an opportunity to talk about something they’re passionate about without being too straightforward with those same boring questions everyone asks.
Do you want to go somewhere a bit more fun?
Be spontaneous! You don’t need to have a flirty edge or a ‘come back to mine’ implication behind it. Planning a second mini-adventure within a first date itself is a great way of breaking up the date and getting to see a different side to the person you’re seeing.
This is particularly fun if the date has lost its spark halfway through, you can change the mood entirely – also if where you are is too loud, definitely ask them to head elsewhere.
Do you mind if I pay?
Who cares about being traditional standards anymore? However you identify, it’s nice to spoil other people – and be spoiled too. If your date is going well and if you’re in the financial situation to do so, you should offer to pay.
Agree for the other person to pay next time and you’ve got yourself a second date.
Do you want to come back to mine?
People who say: “don’t have sex on the first date” are boring. There’s no reason not to do anything you want within the realms of affirmed consent and legality. It’s dependent on you and the person you’re on a date with. Trust us, we’ve done the research. Sex releases oxytocin, commonly known as ‘the love hormone’, but that’s actually a misnomer.
Oxytocin is the hormone (along with dopamine) that makes sex feel good and makes you want to cuddle afterwards and if you easily confuse those feelings for love, maybe sex on the first date isn’t for you. But if you have no problem with separating the two, then go ahead if you feel ready for it!
Our top five first date tips
There’s plenty of advice out there for people who are going on a first date, but here’s some quick tips for those who have a tendency for last minute nerves!
For more first date dating advice, check out our first date survival guide.
Be on time
Try your best not to be late, it’s a bad showing if you’re late to the first date. If it’s unavoidable, then message ahead of time and let them know you’re running late and the reason why – don’t lie either! It doesn’t need to be said that being late to a first date is the first impression and it’s rude to be late, it shows you’re not interested.
Have a fun, not-too-serious conversation
Whether you resort to the typical questions or not, don’t let the conversation get into a hole of differing opinions. It’s important to talk about your political opinions, to see if your outlooks align and to get a sense of whether you’d want to see them again, but stating your most controversial opinions on the first date isn’t exactly the best idea.
Listen to them
A simple and easy thing to do, which many people overlook. In your bid to be interesting you can make a first date sound like a sales pitch. Remember you’re a person on a date with another person, not an item on a shelf waiting to be chosen. Listening to someone and getting to know them is important for you, otherwise you might end up dating someone you know nothing about – only to find out they’re a terrible fit.
Keep the technology away
Dates are a no-phone-zone. Getting out your phone to talk to your mates when they’re in the bathroom is kind of a given, but if they come back you better put that device away! Your friends can wait to hear all about your date, but the person in front of you (hopefully) wants to actually talk and not just hear about the messages you’ve sent about them 10 minutes in. Pretend your phone doesn’t exist and engage for an hour or two please.
Don’t do weekends
It seems like fun to go out on a Friday or Saturday at first, but then you realise that you’re not that into them and you could have been doing literally anything else right now. Making dates earlier in the week lets you have space for your ‘established’ personal lives at the weekend and can help if you have a tendency to – respectfully – have a few drinks.