You’re finally about to go on a first date. Your stomach is full of butterflies and can only be settled by a night out on the town with the object of your desire.
The only holdup is, well… you actually haven’t been on a first date in quite some time and you need a little help on the whole “how to make a good first impression and land a second date” thing. Don’t worry about a single thing! We’ve got 11 easy tips to follow to guarantee that you’ll be the apple of your date’s eye.
Pick an Interesting Restaurant and Activity
Think beyond Starbucks and Chipotle. You don’t need to go to one of the best restaurants in America, but you’ll want to pick a place with character and an interesting menu (but one that is still accessible for every palate). And think beyond the standard “dinner and a movie.” Consider taking your date to a cooking class, funky museum, or sporting event for an activity that will foster conversation and allow you to have active interactions.
You have to dress to impress, of course! According to conventional wisdom, the very first impression is made within seven seconds, so your appearance is key. That doesn’t mean that you should wear a three-piece suit or a ball gown, but it is appropriate to dress slightly nicer than you would for an average date.
Arrive on Time (Or Even Better… Early)
Nothing is more of an immediate turnoff than tardiness. If your dinner reservation is at 7 p.m., be sure you’re at the restaurant at 7 p.m. Actually, get there a little early. Aim to be at your table at 6:50.
Remember Your Table Manners
It’s easy to be rude without realizing it. And it’s really important that you remember your table etiquette. That means you should put your napkin on your lap, keep your elbows off the table, don’t talk with your utensils in hand, and pass the salt and pepper together.
Be Confident and Positive
Part of making an instantly great first impression is in your stature. Walk into the venue for your date with confidence, with a straight posture and a smile on your face. Don’t be cocky, but if you feel good about yourself, your personality, and your appearance, your date will definitely pick up on those vibes.
Move Beyond Small Talk
If you want to stand out among all the other first dates all there, you have to get creative with your topics of conversation. One can only discuss the weather, siblings, and what’s on TV so much before it gets boring. Have a few interesting tidbits and anecdotes in your pocket to make for engaging, interesting discussions that truly allow you to get to know your date.
But Don’t Interview Your Date
You’re going to want to ask your date questions about themselves and listen to what they have to say. But, this is a friendly night out, not an interrogation. Remember to follow up on their questions and show interest in what they have to say. But don’t bombard them with questions and bullet points. No one likes that.
Make Eye Contact and Use Your Date’s Name
You want to really connect with your date, and there are two simple ways to do that: eye contact and name use. Making eye contact not only shows you’re attentive and engaged, but it also helps you to connect with your date. And it’s scientifically proven that people like the sound of their own name, so be sure to use it with some frequency — just don’t make it weird.
Treat the Wait Staff With Kindness
You can’t just be kind to your date — you need to be nice to everyone around you, including the waiters and bartenders. If you’re rude to the poor man or woman serving you dinner, how does your date know you won’t be rude in other social situations?
Keep Your Phone Away
We love Twitter, iMessage, and Candy Crush as much as the next person, but you’re out engaging with another real person in a real place. Be present at your date, and keep your cell phone tucked away in your pocket or purse.
Pick Up the Tab
Some women think men should automatically pay for the first date. Others think that whoever initiated the date should pay. Some believe that dates should be split 50/50. Honestly, all of these are the right (and wrong) answer. But if you’re looking to make a great impression, you should at least reach for the check.