Dating is sometimes harder than it should be. After countless dinners and drinks, it can be tempting to throw in the towel and resign to nights of forever watching Netflix alone in your bed. But when dating is done right, it can be amazing, and those great dates often lead to great relationships. So consider this your dating playbook, with all the information you need to survive the first date and make sure there’s a second one.
1. Pick the perfect outfit.
You want him to open the door and think, Wow!—but without looking like you’re trying too hard. Strike the balance by pairing your cutest jeans with an off-the-shoulder tee or a strappy tank—something that shows just a touch more skin than usual. (He’ll definitely notice!) Give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get ready, so you don’t have to rush or make him wait.
2. Show respect
Show up on time, be polite to the waitstaff, and give your date your undivided attention. Don’t worry. If you don’t hit it off, you don’t have to date him again. But while you’re on the date, show off your social etiquette skills.
3. Keep the convo moving
Your instinct may be to ask a bunch of questions to get him to open up, but that can feel like a college admissions interview. Instead keep the convo moving by making funny observations. Don’t worry about silences — you can always default to talking about what’s playing on his iPod. Since he picked the music, he’ll have stuff to say about it.
4. Let him lead
If he wants to pay, let him pay.
Note: If you offer to split the bill, be prepared to actually split the bill. Don’t play games. Remember that he’s likely nervous and is trying to figure out first-date rules, too. You’ll have plenty of time in the future to figure out gender-role stuff if you develop a relationship. In the meantime, respect his wishes to lead. Let him follow up after the date, too.
5. Be honest
“Say what you mean. Girls have this tendency of expecting guys to read between the lines, then ending up disappointed. If you want something, be specific and avoid causing yourself unnecessary stress. He is usually pretty open to new ideas.
6. Be present
Show interest in your date and be an active listener. Don’t let it be all about you. If you talk non-stop when you’re nervous, try to be aware of this and intentionally refocus the conversation on him.
7. Set boundaries
Be careful to not share too much on a first date. This isn’t an arranged marriage; you’ll have second and third dates to share more. Be clear about physical boundaries if he’s over-eager. Sex on a first date is never, ever a good idea.
8. Don’t talk bitchy
“Don’t hate on other girls. You should not pass comments in the middle of a conversation, look over at another girl and say, ‘Eww, look at that girl’s dress.’ It may sounded so bitchy and your guy might not appreciate this behaviour. Cattiness isn’t an attractive quality.
9. Give Thanks
The guy will almost always hold the door open, pay for dinner, etc., but it’s still nice to hear a thank you and know that it’s all appreciated. It really goes a long way. They’ve almost come to stop expecting them so it’s especially nice when he hear it. If it doesn’t happen in the beginning, he’ll think it’ll never happen.
10. Reach out! Literally
Men like when a girl gets physical with them, but not in the sexual sense. It’s more in an affectionate way. He I love when she’ll touch his arms or something like that as we’re talking. It lets him know she’s interested without being over the top and shows him they’re both there for the same reason. They like each other and it’s clear.
11. Wait for him to text you
Play it cool and let him reach out to you: Texting first can seem overeager. If he’s interested in you, you’ll probably hear from him by the end of the day. In the meantime, enjoy the rush you get after an awesome date — it’s exciting to know anything could happen next!