The First Date Master Plan

Kudos! You've asked that special person out on a first date, and they've happily said yes.

Or perhaps you were the one who was asked? Either way, it's an exciting venture! It's a common understanding that first impressions are critical in forming our views of others, right from the initial greeting. You will be interested in what matters in these instances.

Curious? Continue reading.

first date

For sure, you don't want to seem like you're trying too hard, but also want to set up an excellent plan to be sure nothing will go awry.
If you met your date-to-be online, you only know each other's virtual personality and painted a picture in your head of the real person behind it. So, when you meet up, you want to live up and beyond that particular picture.

Don't panic: We have useful tips and know what it takes to make a first date great, how to avoid awkward silence and how to take things to the next level and get a second date.

Read on for first date advice that everybody should know.

First Date Preparations: Get ready!

The day has come. Your head has been playing all kinds of versions of the date, and it feels like the butterflies in your stomach are about to fly up and out. Don't worry, that's fine. Without those feelings, the first date would be quite dull. To calm yourself a bit down, do some prep. It's never wise to leave everything to chance, yet what we're about to tell you is no rocket science. However, the hours before the date even gets started can already be a deal-breaker. 

Listen carefully, and we will uncover which preparations make a first date just great.

1. The pregame: Get a self-esteem booster

Start with yourself. To ease those butterflies right before the first date, get yourself a self-esteem pump up! It's all about getting your mind right. Your date will quickly recognise if you feel confident in your skin, your appearance can initiate a huge impression in a non-verbal way. 

How to do this?

1. Exercise a few hours before the date starts - even if it's just a walk down the streets or in the park. This will make you feel healthy, energised and get your endorphins flowing. Perfect conditions to create a sense of well-being and impress your date.

2. Listen to your favourite playlist while getting ready

First Date Woman Self Esteem

Which songs always bring you into a good mood? Just sing along, dance and—as a charming and useful side effect—feel happy. 

3. Create a list with three awesome things about yourself, even when it's only in your mind, and play them up on the date. Think about your best characteristics. Do you have the ability to make people laugh?  Use these things as an advantage. This also works out for physical properties you can play to the gallery. 

The mindset is one of the fundamental preparations. If we enter into a date feeling unworthy or defeated, those feelings will be hard to grow out of and accompany you through the whole date. Allow yourself to hope for something great: Get ready to have a perfect time!

2. Get your date look

Take your time to get physically ready. Your looks are part of the essentials of your date prep (this counts for men and women alike). You don't know what to wear? Remember this tip: Think of your favourite photo of yourself. If somebody would ask you to show them the best picture of yourself, which one would you choose? You can also request a friend which photo they think of when hearing this question. Ta-da! Problem solved! This is an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and looks suitable for outsiders. Just pray that it's's clean and ironed if your date is today.

So, to have enough time for this part of the prep, don't sandwich your date in between other appointments so that you won't be time-pressured.
In general, what you are wearing should match the date activity you both agreed to. Don't be overdressed, yet also not like you give a damn about your looks. (No high heels on a hike, no hoodie in a restaurant)

Here's your checklist for before you leave the house:

  • Breath check—Did you brush your teeth AND floss?
  • Deodorant and fragrance—Do you smell good but also won't capture the whole room with your perfume?
  • Are your clothes and shoes clean and in good condition?
  • Men: Did you shave or groom your beard? Plus: Nail check—are they clean?
  • Ladies: Can you walk all day/night with those shoes? Is your make-up suitable and not smeared?

Preparedness is the key to a successful date! Get this free copy of texting guide for men. 

3. Be a good listener

This should be something to remember before and during your first date. Why? You will learn more about your date while listening carefully. Listening is much tougher than most of us think as you have to fight against the urge of keeping your date entertained and don't want them to believe you have nothing to talk about.

Which techniques can you use regarding this aspect? It's all about psychology. Follow this guide to make the most out of your first conversation:

  • Be an "active listener." How? You seek eye contact while your date speaks, react to what they say and laugh when they laugh (so, mirror their reactions).
  • Don't listen with one ear. If you want to become a better listener, you have to untangle the convolutions, especially when your conversation partner tells a story with some hard to grasp elements. Keep your mind from wandering. If you still don't get the essence of the story, your date tells you, don't be afraid to ask questions. It will show that you are interested, appreciate the communication and care enough to ask.
  • Think before you talk. A good listener will take some time before responding. Sentences like "Give me a second to think about that" make a speaker feel that what they've put forth merits reflection and that the listener wasn't just waiting until the speaker finished.
  • Remember the topics you talked about before your date. Do you already know something about the interests and hobbies of your date? Keeping these things in mind will help to let the conversation flow, avoid asking frivolous questions and will also make you feel more comfortable, even if you never saw that person in real life before.
  • Observe the body language and changes in tone. Monitoring these signals will help you to interact and cater to your responses.
  • Last but not least: Don't check your phone too often! It's impolite and makes your date feel like you don't even care about the things she or he has to say. Better put it away entirely.

4. Be yourself

This might sound a bit clichéd, but: Simply be true—or in other words: Don’t pretend you’re somebody else. Your date is supposed to like you the way you are, right? So, there’s nothing on the pro-site if you’re acting like an impostor to impress him or her. Au contraire! Putting on a front all night is going to make you feel more awkward than anything else. Think about the future and where your potential new relationship evolves from—your first date! Nobody wants a relationship based on a lie, and can you imagine how stressful it would be trying to keep up that front all the time? Nearly impossible. So be confident with who you are, but don't be arrogant. 

Don’t be on your best behaviour on your first date – but be on your normal, everyday behaviour. You would want your date to see your true personality. You want them to like you for who you actually are, not who you are pretending to be.

Even if you think you are a good actor, trying to be someone else will just make you both uncomfortable. Also, if the other person can’t immediately sense if you’re faking it or not, at the latest one of your future dates will reveal the truth.

5. Learn from the past

If this first date isn't your first date ever, think of all the adversities that happened on other dates you had before. You can finally use old mistakes for your advantage now! Which things have grown on your responsibility? No matter what it is, if you weren't on time, talked about some things that should have been avoided or wore a horrible outfit: You already become a better version of yourself if you admit your mistakes and are willing to do your very best to avoid them on your next date.

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10 questions you should actually ask on a First Date

Keeping the conversation up and going during a first date is one of the more significant challenges. First dates, where you immediately get along so well that not a single moment of awkward silence occurs, are rare. Mostly, at some point, the conversation comes to a point where you struggle to ask questions. This is when people mostly end up fishing for facts like "Do you have any brothers or sisters?", "Where do you work?" or even "Nice weather isn't it?". Please avoid this! The challenge with that is, it doesn't give you a lot of information whether the person you're on a date with is a good match for you.

First Date Conversation

Facts are one-dimensional when it comes to revealing who that person is. FBI's methods are also out of place, so don't just fire questions and become an interrogator. So, it comes in handy to have some unusual, challenging questions down pat that are guaranteed to keep the conversation going.

Attention! Please keep in mind to have your answers at hand, as your date will surely ask "How about you?". You are the initiator and lead the conversation in a particular direction. But guess what? You have plenty of time to think about the best answer at home and impress your date even more.

Here are ten high-quality questions to get the conversation flowing, avoid awkwardness and get to know your date better:

  • What's the craziest, most spontaneous thing you've ever done?
  • If I gave you 500 Dollars right now, what would you do with it?
  • If you get arrested, and I would tell it to your friends, what would they think you've done to break the law?
  • What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
  • What were you like as a kid?
  • If you could trade lives with one person for one day, who would it be? 
  • What's your ideal date?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any quality or ability, what would it be?
  • If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  • Can you let me know as soon as you get home safe?

Choose two or three questions from this set. For each of them, your date needs to go deep inside them to come up with a good answer. You can trigger their inner child (Question 5) or find out about their secret desires in life (Question 6). These subtle triggers, hidden in an innocent question, can change the whole conversation, and you'll learn a lot about your date. 

Extra tip: Touch your date. Of course, this doesn't mean you should be indiscreet or too touchy in a sexual kind of way. You both may be shy at the beginning, but the longer you leave it before introducing some touch, the more awkward it may become. Touch allows us to create levels of intimacy. So: A hug at the beginning of a slight touch on the shoulder should be already enough to decrease the distance, and you can tell from your date's reaction if you should touch them again. For that, it's better to sit not opposite of each other, better place yourself next to each other or adjacent. 

Psychological tricks: Use science for a successful date

Communication is split into a non-verbal and a verbal part. Only if both of them interlock, your chances of becoming a communication and flirting expert will increase. We will tell why these techniques are so important: About 60% of all human communication is non-verbal, most importantly the signals your body language sends out, whether you're aware of them or not. 30% is paraverbal, meaning the way others notice your speaking tone and intonation. So if you just calculate this, 90% of what you're communicating is not what you are actually saying. What little behaviors can you introduce to get on the fast track to your date's heart?

Follow these psychological proven tricks:

  1. Use a person's name often and from the very beginning on. This will help to reinforce it in your mind and also makes your date like you more - because people simply like to hear their name. It makes us feel important. 
  2. Make note of your dates eye colour. It's nice to know which eye colour your date has, but that's not the point here. Checking the colour will give you the perfect amount of eye contact and instantly increases your charm. 
  3. Nod your head. This simple trick is advanced psychology. If you want to encourage your date to agree with you, just nod your head while talking. There's a big chance for him or her to do the same in their response and trick their brain into thinking it agrees with you. 
  4. Use the upside-down-triangle. The triangle technique will demonstrate that you're truly listening to someone. Loot at one eye, then the other eye, then to their mouth. Your date will recognise you are truly paying attention.
  5. Ask for favors. Start with a small ask, like the time or to pass the salt across the table. People are more apt to like you afterwards. Why? Their brain will rationalise that they must already like you if they've done something for you. 

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Things you should absolutely avoid on a First Date

We all know first dates are primes to be awkward. Some common mistakes just tend to be made on almost every first date. So let's go on with the big DON'TS you should always avoid to have a successful date. 

First Date Things to Avoid

1. Don't get too excited

This includes to not talk nineteen to the dozen or twitchy sliding from the one half of your chair to the other. Take a deep breath and relax.

2. Never ever talk about your ex

Surprise, surprise. This is a no-brainer, but some people are so enamoured by their ex that this topic always comes up. Don't talk about any past relationships unless your date asks you explicitly about it. You just sit here with a person you want to get to know better; the past doesn't matter now.

3. Being on your phone all the time

We've already mentioned this before. It's impolite and creates the impression that the date doesn't matter to you.

4. Only talking about yourself

Nobody likes selfish people. Try to get a balanced relation of your talking parts. Ask questions and be interested.

5. Playing hard to get

This could backfire very fast. Misunderstandings will make the process of getting to know each other interminable and building a healthy relationship harder.

6. Too many compliments

By giving too many compliments, you will simply overstrain your date. If you give a compliment, choose wisely if it's appropriate and honest.

7. Asking "What are we?"

Not. Yet. It's just your first date, so the answer should be clear. You are only two people who are interested in each other - everything else will evolve later.

8. Don't be late 

Being late isn't sexy. You both agreed to meet at a specific time, so please just respect your date and don't waste her or his time.

9. Keep it grounded.

At the end of the day, a date is a date. You should avoid idolizing or putting the other person on a pedestal. You may or may not have a fun date but you should not be invested and planning out your entire future right off the bat. Treat it as it is: a date.

10. Don't be rude to service people

The way you treat other people in front of your date will tell much about you. Be kind and show you have decency.

11. Having overly high expectations 

Maybe your first date will lead you to a serious relationship, but this is not a must. If things go unplanned, don't be sad, keep your head up and start anew. 

12. Don't interrupt your date 

You've already learned this from your parents: Show respect by listening to your date and give an answer when she or he finished the sentence. Yet, as mentioned above, in cases where you want to show you're listening actively, it might make sense to interrupt your date by comprehension questions.

13. Get drunk

This can simply destroy everything, as you lose power over your words and your body. One glass of alcohol can help to be less nervous, but please use it sparingly.

14. Don't stand your date up

Unfortunately, standing up a date has been more prevalent today than ever. Standing up a date is just outright disrespect. If you can't make it to the date or realized you're suddenly not interested, send a text – it only takes less than a minute to send you can't make it!

15. Don't be overly touchy or make the other person uncomfortable with over the top sex jokes

Green jokes are fun. They can help decrease the nervousness of the first date. However, you have to make sure to discuss boundaries and gauge your comfort levels both ways before getting into it. Being overly touchy or cracking sex jokes after sex jokes might not land well with your date.

How to Take this to the Second Date?

If the date went well and your expectations were met or have been exceeded, you surely want to go one step further—to a second date, right? Don't miss the chance to meet this stunning person again. You now have two opportunities on how to set up a second date. 

However, if you are unsure about another meeting or the first date even failed, it's better to not go on a second one. When you followed our leads from this article, it was not your fault for sure, but a matter of good old chemistry which can't be forced.

During the First Date

You don’t have to wait for a particular time to ask him or her out and arrange a second date—you can just make it happen on your first date! So, how can you quickly turn the conversation and talk about the next meeting without being too demanding? First important rule: Don’t ask for a second date too early. Spend at least an hour with your date and check if the chemistry is right. If the conversation topic allows it, you can throw in a subtle suggestion without expecting an immediate reaction. For example, you’re talking about Indian food, and you tell her about your favourite restaurant. You then casually mention that the two of you should go there one day, and just keep on talking about this delicious butter chicken for a few more seconds.
When the end of your first date comes closer, try to catch up on this topic or another you talked about before and use it for an actual question. Here are a few examples:

  • This new movie from XY we talked about is still airing at the cinema, should we go next week?
  • I’m going to the concert of XY this weekend, I’m convinced you’d love them. Do you want to join me?
  • By the way, I was serious about the butter chicken earlier, I’d like to show you this place!

If your current date location has some disadvantages, this can also be a great hook to ask for a second date:

  • Haha, I think we don’t have to try any other meal here since the XX (food you just ate) wasn’t so lovely. But I know another restaurant only a few hundred meters from here. Maybe I can make amends for my choice and show you the best XY (food) in town.

After the First Date

Your date is already over, and you both missed the chance to agree on a second date and left on a vague “see you soon?“
No problem! But you need to jump into action soon, and there are several times when this is suitable. You need a bit of empathy to guess which of the upcoming ideas could be the best to serve the purpose. For example, if they stated they’re exhausted, it does not make much sense to start a text convo that same night. The general rules here: be truthful, thankful, polite and direct.

  • Directly after the date: Ask if they got home safely. If the conversation has a seamless transition, you are on the home stretch. Tell your date you enjoyed the time and that you would be thrilled to repeat this.
  • The next morning: Ask them “Did you sleep and rest well? I enjoyed last night and would like to do this again sometime. Should we try XY we spoke about this weekend”?
  • Pick up the conversation where you left off on your date, even when already one or two days passed. Example: “I’m still laughing about the story you told me” - just skip the small talk and remind him or her on how much fun you had.
  • Make a compliment for his or her outfit or something else that you remember clearly. Afterwards, you can stress how much you enjoyed the time and suggest meeting again.

For all these examples, it’s always best to make suggestions with time and place. But don’t get too needy and suggest a date for the evening right after the first one. Better let time do its job—a few days of waiting let the desire to see each other again grow immensely.

Last but not least: How to end a First Date

We already talked about the importance of first impressions at the beginning. But this is not the only significant moment of your date. Referring to psychology, it's the first and the last thing that happens that will stick in our memory, called the Serial Positioning Effect, and you can use this effect to your advantage.

Your date will remember those parts the most. So, even if you had a brilliant conversation, if you mess up the goodbye-part, this will downgrade the whole date. But if you do this right, scoring a second date will be the most natural thing you've ever done. Before we leave this point out, here are some final tips on how you can smoothly end your first date:

First Date Goodbye
  1. A little physical affection at the end will stay in your both minds and also help to show your interest to have a second date. If you are unsure if your date wants to hug you, too, just ask. Something more romantic like a kiss shouldn't be discussed before—this will simply take away all the magic. You both will know if it's the right time to kiss each other. 
  2. If you're not sure if your feelings are strong enough to go on a second date, please stay polite and say thank you. It can be useful to process before you make any decisions. So just go on a second date, you're committing nothing more than another conversation. 
  3. For the men: Make sure your date gets home safe. Call her a cab, walk her home or accompany her to the train station. Make her feel safe and be a gentleman. Don't forget to use our 'Did you get home safe?' text message afterwards. 
  4. End the date with a cute joke. Nobody was ever turned off by a little giggle. 

Now that you know everything about how you should behave on your first date, nothing should go wrong. Keep our tips in mind and your head up, go out and rock your first date! Author Chris Pleines
Chris Pleines
Founder of Datingscout and Author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies"
Chris founded Datingscout 15 years ago, and today he is one of the leading Online Dating Experts. He is the author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies" and the author of the Internet's largest online dating study analyzing 20 Million Profile Pictures with artificial intelligence. Chris Pleines holds a master degree in media science and appeared in numerous television interviews and publications to give expert advice as well as tips about online dating.