For the select few of us, dating seems to come naturally; for the rest it can be a nerve wracking and sometimes embarrassing procedure that is a means to an end rather than a fun occasion in itself. Especially first dates that for many of us are more like job interviews rather than fun days out. What do you say to the other person? When do you get in touch after the date? Do you offer to pay? While your behaviour will vary from person to person and occasion to occasion there are still fortunately some basic rules you can follow to make sure things go as smoothly as possible and this can take some of the stress off of a date so that you may even be able to enjoy it.
Make sure you arrive on time. No one likes to think they’ve been stood up, and even if you think it’s cooler to be fashionably late, most people would prefer a thoughtful partner to a cool one. For guys this goes double as a woman will not like to be left waiting. For guys the rule should be to arrive at least five minutes before the arranged time.
Remember to always be polite to your date and to treat them well even if the date isn’t going anywhere. If you let on early on that you’re not having fun then it will leave a bad taste for the rest of the evening or day.
As a rule the man should pay for the date. Again some people might find that this could be outdated, but as a general rule it always goes down well if you do decide too whereas choosing not too is more likely to be jarring.
Make sure to stay safe on a date, especially if you met the person in a club and especially if you met them online. Ensure that someone knows where you are and that you can get back on your own if you need to.
It can also be a good idea to have an ‘out’ in case you need it in the form of an excuse you can use to get away. The oldest trick in the book here is to have a friend call you at a random point in the date. If it’s going badly you then answer and they say you’re needed. A more simple option is to say you might have to leave early to catch up on work or meet someone else. Always set a time to leave anyway and this time even if it’s going well you’ll leave on a high and they’ll be wanting more.
Similarly make sure you don’t blurt out everything you know about yourself straight away. This again will ensure they want to know more, while at the same time keeping an air of mystery and not boring them with your biography. Listen more than you talk.
Some subjects are also fairly taboo. The main and most obvious one is anything such as previous partners or sexual encounters which can get a bit heavy, and anything too deep or depressing. Try to keep your conversation fairly light and frivolous unless your date seems keen on getting deeper (side stepping questions can get suspicious).
One more rule is to *never* plan your conversation which will come across as forced and stilted. If you genuinely listen to your partner’s conversation and make a big effort to respond to what they say you should be okay.
With regards to sex/kissing etc there are few rules today and people vary wildly. The ‘official’ rule tends to say that sex comes on the third date, with the first and second being first and second base respectively. Traditionally you will kiss at the end of the night when you escort/get escorted back, but this isn’t set in stone. For guys it can sometimes be a good idea to go in for a hug and a kiss at the start of the date, which sets the mood for the date to come and makes subsequent contact less awkward and nerve wracking. As a woman don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with though and as a man don’t expect anything. Some women won’t want to go even to second base for several months while others will wait until marriage.
Another point of contention is the after-date text. Here there are again many different points of view and while some people will want to text immediately after the date, others wait in order to avoid appearing too keen. The best advice here is to do what you feel most comfortable with. Don’t try to play a role, but instead do whatever you would normally do after meeting someone or what you want to. Most people will be very happy to receive a text as reassurance that everything went smoothly and it’s not uncommon to keep a very close eye on your phone in the hours after a date…
And that goes for the date in general – be yourself. It sounds cheesy but this is probably the most important rule of dating as otherwise once you start going out you’re likely to find that any lies you told or false characteristics you put on come out in the wash and in that sense it could be considered false advertising.
The only other rule to observe is how to let someone down if you don’t want a repeat date. Here it’s important to be straight with your date and let them know you won’t be seeing them again. Be gentle and kind about it though and use phrases like ‘I think we’d be better as friends’. This is one instance where it is okay to lie…
Finally, make sure you have fun! Don’t spend the whole time worrying but instead try to enjoy the food/film/or event. It can help take the pressure off the date, force you to act more naturally, and enjoyment is certainly contagious.