The Datemakers guide to nailing that first date
First dates are a weird and wonderful thing. A bad first date can send you running for the hills, overthinking and embarrassed, wishing you'd stayed at home. But a good first date is a game changer.
Now, we can't promise reading this guide will guarantee you a string of exciting, flirtatious first dates that leave you smiling for the rest of the week, but we can suggest ways to avoid disasters.
Most of these tips come from personal experience - basically, we screwed up so you don't have to! So here goes, the ultimate guide to absolutely nailing that first date:
Off to an obvious - but often forgotten - start. Dates are about getting to know each other, so ask genuine questions that show you're interested in what your date is saying. There's an art to striking the balance between asking in-depth questions and prying into their personal life. Go in too deep and you'll appear intense, but shy away from the matter at hand and you'll be back to the realm of small talk. As a rule, ask why they left their last job, but not for every detail of their parents' messy divorce.
2. Dutch courage, not drunken mess
Ah yes, we've all been here, haven't we? Slightly red in the face, desperately trying to remember why we thought it was a good idea to pre-drink for a first date. By all means, have a drink. There are few greater joys in life than that slightly giddy, tipsy feeling of sharing a bottle of wine with someone you like. And a couple of drinks have been known to turn the gawkiest of colleagues (on the date you were low-key dreading) into the most charming company imaginable. But don't over do it. Believe us, it doesn't end well.
3. Be smart about your location
You'd be surprised how many dates have been cut short due to lack of location-related foresight, and it's hard to make a plan B look cool. Let me paint you a picture: you enter your local pub with your long-term crush, ready for a classy evening of low-key flirting and eye contact held slightly too long. But, it's sports night at the local University, and the 100-man rugby squad are out in force, all shirtless and necking VKs. No thank you. The list of hypothetical disasters could go on forever, so make sure you think through your date spot. And look, if you ever did need a one-stop shop for interesting date ideas then we know a place...
4. Be yourself!
Ok, I'll admit that this kind of advice is about as helpful as being told to "follow your heart", "chin up" or "just earn more money!"... but it's true. Don't turn up to a first date ready to people-please or pretend you're someone you're not. If your date is name-dropping indie film directors and obscure musicians don't act like you know what's going on if you don't. One minute you're pretending to be interested in the cinematographer of the most recent Palm d'Or winner, and the next thing you know you're three dates in, having to rush to the loo for Wikipedia breaks in between courses. Equally, don't water down your own enthusiasms or interests. (That being said... there are some interests that can probably wait til the third or fourth date. Maybe best not to let on about your star trek shrine just yet.) Long story short: don't waste your time pretending to be someone you're not.
5. Get science on your side
Hear us out on this one. Studies have shown that getting your date to tell you about their happiest memory will set off endorphins in their brain, which they in turn associate with you. Mind games? Maybe. But it's also the science you need to guarantee a good date! We give you permission to go full Derren Brown on 'em.
So there you have it: our five top tricks for making sure your first date is a success. Whether you matched online, have been set up or it's been a long time coming with a friend-of-a-friend, you don't want to screw up that all-important first date.
We love hearing about your dates (first or otherwise), so if you've been on a date recently - let us know! Find us online at @datemakersuk, and share your dating stories with us. If a first date went well, let us know and we might give you a bit of Datemakers credit to keep the fire burning! And if it was a disaster, share your story... we've all been there!