By Isis Nezbeth
Isis is a first-time mother, author, and free-spirited freelancer.
Have you ever felt like Mindy? I’m sure we all have. The truth is, what gets me the most about being single is that I love going on dates! Don’t you? I do all that I can to make sure my date has a great time, yes, even if that means paying. I think the only bad thing about going on dates is that just because you enjoyed it doesn’t mean that your date did. Over the weekend, I ate out a couple times and observed some really, really bad dates happening which led me to write about how to avoid having a bad first date. Let’s get into it, shall we?
For some reason, we don’t pay as much attention to the signs we see from the person we’ve invited on a date before we ever go on a date. If you choose to pay attention you can get a lot of information from it. For example, what time did they arrive? If they were eager to get to you, they are probably really excited about going out with you for the first time. Were they really late? Sure, there is a possibility that there was major traffic or some other reason for their tardiness, but normally it just means there was no sense of urgency in getting to this date. Sorry, I’m late… I didn’t want to come.
There’s also the communication that comes before actually getting together. Of course, one of the two of you had to invite the other on the date. Was there any contact beforehand? Maybe one of you sent a, “I’m really looking forward to our date tonight,” text or something of nature. Those are all big signs that they have been looking forward to inviting you out and that they flatter you accepted. Those are signs that the date should run smoothly once it gets going.
Once you arrive
Once the two of you arrive at whichever place chosen for your date (which hopefully is NOT the movie theater–worst first date, ever), pay attention to the way your date greets you. Also, consider the way you feel greeting them. Is there a natural attraction already present? Perhaps as soon as you see your date you start to think about how great they look just to go out with you, better yet, maybe you decide to tell him/her how great they look? Butterflies or mild nervousness is also a good sign. Keep in mind that I said mild nervousness. Meaning the kind of nervousness you get when having the opportunity to go out on a date with a crush, not the kind of nervousness that keeps you from making eye contact or speaking clearly or loudly.
What about etiquette? For us, ladies is your date opening the door for you? Maybe he pulled out your chair? And to you gents, how is she dressed? If mother walked into the place you two are having your date, would she meet a rose or a weed? I know you fellas may not think about it, but the way a lady dresses for your first night out says A LOT about the kind of gal she is (or at least wants you to think she is).
During the date
Of course, the most important time to evaluate how your date is going is during the date. After the initial nervousness has worn off and before the food comes. It’s during the downtime that you two are sitting at a table, looking at each other in the eye trying to think of things to say. Gents, a kind gesture is to suggest some things on the menu that you enjoy if you’ve already eaten there. Ladies, this is a nice gesture for us to do as well, but be careful because it can also come off as being a bit pushy–which we have a tendency of doing to guys, whether we realize it or not. Also, consider ordering a drink for her if she drinks alcohol. Start by asking her what her favorite drink is and then suggest a few drinks that would compliment her taste based on her answer. This is a nice trick-in-the-book for us, too, ladies.
Pay attention to the vibe you two have created. Is it comfortable? Do you feel relaxed and happy to be on a date with the person you’re with? Is your mind completely engaged or entirely distracted? This is important. Whatever vibe you two have going is already sending signs to both of you about whether or not you two will be going out again. Also, consider how deep your conversation is. No, you don’t need to tell your date your deepest darkest secrets on the first night out, but hopefully, your conversation excels beyond simple questions like your favorite food or color. You want to leave enough on the table that makes your date feel like you were comfortable telling them who you are, but also being careful not leave it all out there so that your date is hungry to learn more about you.
What about body language? If your date is a female, some ways to know she is enjoying herself are relaxed shoulders, crossed legs that are pointing in your direction, and a bright smile, of course. Some women are also really likely to play with their hair when having a good time. Also, if she actually laughs instead of just smiling… you’re doing great. For the gents, from what I can see, being engaged in the conversation is a good sign because unlike us women, men aren’t always big on open conversation. Also, eye contact, offering another round of drinks or dessert (in efforts to make the date last longer) are also telltale signs that he is enjoying your company. Ladies, we can also offer a second round of drinks or dessert in order to let him know you’d like to stay a little while longer and that you’re enjoying your time.
Hopefully, you haven’t seen your date’s phone until the end of the date only to find that the two of you spent hours of enjoyable time together. I hate when a date texts while on a date, but that’s just me. Anyway, the follow-up is very important. When you two are saying your goodbyes, it is just as important to pay attention to the signs being given here. Is your date eager to get outta there? Or maybe they are trying everything in their power to linger and hang out a little while longer? Did you two feel comfortable giving each other a goodbye hug instead of the awkward ‘handshake/hug/hmmm, what are you doing’? Did the two of you talk about or plan another date before leaving the first one?
Also, pay attention to the interaction the two of you have once you’ve already parted ways. Maybe your date asked you to text them when you made it home safely? That’s a good sign, but it also takes initiative from you to actually let them know you made it. Maybe you ride home thinking about how much you enjoyed yourself and call your date when you make it in to let them know that. The follow-up is to me the most important because it is what will lead the two of you to have more dates in the future and to hopefully pursuing more.
For the most part, I referred to the first date taking place over dinner, which I find highly appropriate, but you don’t have to be that simple. Either way, you want to make sure you pay attention to all parts of the date. In my opinion, these are the makings of a great first date and more importantly, a great first impression. Good luck!