Katy Horwood, writer of the award winning blog All Sweetness and Life, shares her tips on how to make the most out of your first date…

Being a woman in my thirties I think it is fair to say that I have done a fair bit of dating. That is to say, I have spent many an evening in the company of new men. Something which I enjoy very much. I have female friends who, when launching into the idea of meeting someone new, like to hurry the process on to the next stage. They forget to enjoy the beginning bit, the honeymoon period, and are keen to get another ‘boyfriend’ under their belt but forget to enjoy the fun bit along the way. Myself? Not so much.

To my mind the initial stages of meeting someone and getting to know them is the best bit of the whole process (and could explain why I keep coming back for more). First dates should be relished and enjoyed, the flutter of realising you fancy someone, the fun of evenings out with somebody different and the enjoyment of getting to know another person who you may or may not spend more time with in the future. So, in light of this, I’d like to offer some advice regarding first dates and how to make the very most of them.

Sit back and relax

Don’t treat a date like a job interview. Yes, of course you both know why you are there. Nobody signs up to match.com in the hope of meeting someone they don’t really fancy and never want to see again. A first date is about having fun. Meaning that if you go with an open mind and a willingness to enjoy an evening with someone new, regardless of whether you end up marrying them or not, you are far more likely to have a good date, present yourself in the best possible light and get to know someone a lot quicker than if you judge them on first impressions and leave after one drink.

Don’t leave after one drink

All too often I hear stories of people making quick exits and excuses because their date isn’t quite what they expected, a little shorter than they’d imagined or suggested a venue they weren’t familiar with, etc. Enough of the judging! Your date is single and has taken the time to meet you. Show them the same respect in turn and give them at least an hour or so of your time to let them shine. I’m not suggesting that you should book a weekend away in Barcelona before you’ve even met one another but give a person a bit of time to relax and be themselves and you might just be surprised at what you get in return.

I don’t know how many times I have to remind people about the 5’4” bald guy I ended up having one of the best relationships of my life with despite wanting to run in the opposite direction when we first met. Why? Because I gave him time to shine and, in turn, he showed me he was nothing like his first impression, but, instead, was funny, relaxed, intelligent and bloody amazing in the sack, but hey, maybe that’s for another blog post.

Be yourself

Yes, I know we’ve heard it all before. But seriously, carry these words with you on every first date you go on. Being yourself not only means you’ll find the whole experience far more enjoyable but it also means that you’ll know that if your date wants to see you again it’s because he likes you and not somebody you are trying to be (which will eventually unravel in the future anyway so what is the point in the first place). You are brilliant. Believe that and you’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand. Think you’ve got more chance if you were a little more like this or a bit more like that and you’ll soon be sussed out. Doctorates in brain surgery are over-rated anyway.

But don’t be yourself too much

By which I mean, that you’re on a date not an interview. Yes, you may want kids soon or feel ready for marriage, but, trust me, your date doesn’t want to know that within the first hour of meeting you. Nothing will scare a man off quicker than a conversation about baby names before you’ve ordered a second round … well, except doctorates in brain surgery. See I told you it was better to be yourself.

Lastly remember, it’s just a date!

Nothing more than a few drinks with somebody new. There’s no chemistry and you don’t quite click? So what, this shouldn’t put you off dating or see you throw your arms in the air screaming ‘I give up, I give up!!’ down the high street. It should make you grateful that you’ve had an interesting evening with somebody new. After all, what’s the alternative – an evening in front of Coronation Street? I know which I’d prefer.

First dates are a fabulous thing – just remember to have fun! One day you’ll meet someone, settle down and never have another one again in your life. Enjoy them while you can, they won’t be around for ever.