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For the Guys: Twenty Tips for Having a Better First Date

Posted on 06/13/2007 in Dating Tips by Matt

20 tips for having a better first date Thanks to Jennifer for contributing this blog entry.

  1. First impressions are sensory. Take the time to clean up before the date: take a shower, trim your facial hair, wear deodorant, and don't wear wrinkled clothes.   If you want to wear cologne, apply it very sparingly.  If there's one thing a man smells like while drenched in cologne - it's desperation.   One useful trick for applying the right amount of cologne is to spray it into the air and then walk through the little cologne cloud, it'll stick to your clothes but won't be overpowering.  Be mindful of your breath too: stay well hydrated and brush your teeth beforehand.  In the off chance that there's some makeout action, you don't want the experience to be comparable to huffing gorilla farts.
  2. Dress comfortably (but not too comfortably).  Wear something you're comfortable in - but not sweatpants and a hole-ridden chewbacca ftw shirt.  Don't overdress, either - wearing very expensive clothes makes you look like you're trying too hard.  The best outfit for a first date is in the the middle ground between 'I don't care what my appearance is like " and "omigosh I need a manicure."  Look nice but not metrosexual, rugged but not homeless.
  3. Time is on my side, yes it is.  Being a little late is understandable.  Traffic, getting lost, oversleeping, an electromagnetic plague of locusts; we've all been there.  However, If you're going to be late, call her and give her a heads up.
  4. No flowers.  Let me say that again: NO flowers on a first date.  Unless you want her to think you fought in WWII, leave the plants at the plant store. 
  5. Find a short, simple activity.  Try to pick an activity that is easy and doesn't take the entire day, such as meeting up at a coffee shop or grabbing a light snack at a restaurant.  On most first dates you can tell right away if there's chemistry, if there isn't you don't want to be stuck with each other.
  6. Don't just go to the movies and call it good.  Going to see a movie together is fine, but try and do something before or after where you can actually have a conversation.  Sitting in the dark next to someone staring at a screen for two hours isn't exactly the best way to get to know them.  The same goes for loud clubs and rock shows, these environments often result in conversations like: " YOU LOOK NICE! " ... " WHAT?!" ... "I SAID, YOU LOOK NICE"  ... "WHAT? I LICK ICE?" 
  7. Make up your damn mind. Take initiative, be a decision maker.  Don't be a "I dunno, what do you want to do?" kind of guy.  If you can't decide where to eat, pick a random restaurant and stick to it.  If you can't decide whether you want a blended frappacherry extra-whip mocha or an iced decaf vanilla frosted cream macchiato...well, you might want to reach into your pants right now and see if you actually have a pair.
  8. Make eye contact.  I'm not going to quote some awful cliché about how the eyes are the windows to the soul.  Instead, I'm going to point out that eye contact simply makes you appear engaging, secure, and ultimately more attractive.  Make eye contact but don't stare her down - you don't want to make her think you're visualizing how to fit all her internal organs into your fridge. 
  9. Use her first name.  Perhaps we're just vain, but there's something about hearing your own name in conversation that is instantly appealing.  It incites a feeling of involvement and makes the exchange much more personal.  Don't just say "Hi Jen" and have that be the end of it - try and use her name throughout the discussion. It seems silly, but it actually makes a huge difference.
  10. Who should pay?   The best advice I can give you on this subject is to always offer to pay, but don't always insist on it.  If she really wants to pay her half, don't stop her.  A good compromise is to let her pay for the tip.  Also, if the activity was your idea, is over $20.00, and you invited her - you should probably cover it.  If it was your idea to go hot air ballooning over Mt. Fuji, footing the bill probably wouldn't hurt.
  11. Order the right food.  Don't pick food that is messy or complicated: no BBQ or meat-on-meat sandwiches with a side meat sauce.  No one thinks a blood-spattered Tyrannosaurus Rex is attractive.
  12. Put your phone on silent (or vibrate).  Answering your phone during a date is inconsiderate, not answering it makes you appear as if you're hiding something (another girl, perhaps?).   If you can't live without being connected for that long, simply put it on vibrate and check it when she's in the bathroom.
  13. Don't pitch yourself.  This is not a job interview, don't drop names or list your skills in itemized form.
  14. Don't talk about your ex - even if it's a really funny story.   When you first lay down on the bed in your hotel room, you don't want to think about all the other travelers that have laid in this same bed.  Instead, you want to think about how these sheets have just been washed and they smell spectacular.  Remember this if you're thinking about discussing ex's on the first date.
  15. The three day rule is crap.  How long after the first date should you wait before making contact?  The most common answer is three days. Any less appears desperate, any more than three and you appear disinterested.   I disagree with this, a simple text message 1-2 days after will do.  You don't have to call them up and have a two hour conversation, just a small ping of contact does the trick.
  16. Don't act submissive.  Being a pushover is not going to win anyone over. Women want men to be assertive and capable (but still capable of compromise). Try to strike a balance between being in touch with your feelings and being a soulless, detached brute who slaughters barbarian armies without batting a soot-laden eye.
  17. Don't assume things are going well.   Just because she's being nice doesn't necessarily mean things are going well, she might just be acting courteous.  Feel out the situation - is she indicating that she wants to see you again?  Try making light mention of something you want to eventually do but haven't had the chance, such as seeing a certain movie or going hiking on a trail you've never been to before (a pseudo-invite).  If she proactively responds with interest in going (a pseudo-rsvp?) this can be a signal that the date is on the right track.
  18. The focal point.  Dinner dates can be awkward because you're face-to-face with each other with very little external stimuli.  Pick an activity where there's something common you can both rally around, such as going to see a band or sitting somewhere in a coffee shop where you can people-watch from the window.   There's no better way to avoid awkward silences than seeing a crazy bum across the street getting naked and playing duck duck goose with traffic cones.
  19. Don't be a dark raincloud.  Unless you're on a date with an emo girl wearing buckets of eyeliner and an outfit that screams angsty-bassists-are-hot, generally being negative and depressing isn't going to get you anywhere other than cruising myspace for dates.
  20. Kissing.  If there is any doubt about whether or not you should kiss her, don't.   Only go in for a kiss when "PLEASE KISS ME DAMNIT" is practically stamped on her forehead.

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