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How to Have a Great First Date: 15 Things that Impress Every Date

First dates are scary, infuriating, exciting, and full of unknown conversations, events, and more. But here is how to have a great first date.

First dates are scary, I know. I have actually gone on quite a few recently and have learned a lot. So much goes into knowing how to have a great first date. Because there is a lot that can make a first date great and a lot that can make a first date pretty awful.

Why are first dates so weird? Well, you are stuck with a person that you probably barely know, and there are always expectations. We all know what we want out of a first date and when the date doesn’t meet that expectation, things can go downhill pretty fast.

What is a great first date?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of learning how to have a great first date, let’s talk about what a great first date is to you. Not everyone’s idea of a great first date is created equal.

Some people like a low-key chat while sipping coffee. Others prefer doing something adventurous or spontaneous. So, it is up to you whether you would rather be comfortable or risky.

Before even going into a first date, plan a date you’ll enjoy. Do you think a great first date is laughing all night? Does it include dancing or making out? Are you looking for a fun night out or a long term commitment?

Although what we think we want is not always what we actually want, going in with some idea of what you’re looking for will help prevent a bad date. And that is a good start to a great first date. [Read: How long should a first date last? Your guide to timing it right]

How to have a great first date

Now that you know what you want out of a first date, know that there is a small chance that your dream first date will become a reality. I do not want you to go in with a negative mindset, but remember that first dates are completely unknown.

Before even getting to your meeting spot, be aware that things may not go as planned. That is okay. Some of the best first dates are the ones that started out bad.

But, if you follow these tips, they can certainly help you have a great first date.

#1 Be yourself. I know this is what everyone says, but people keep saying it because for some reason none of us actually do it. Yes, we all put our best foot forward on a first date, just like we do in a job interview. Remember this is not a tryout.

This is a chance to get to know someone and have them get to know you. Whether you are hoping for something more long term or are just casually dating, I guarantee both you and your date will have a much better time if you are comfortable in your own skin. [Read: What you need to know to start being true to yourself]

#2 Balance talking and listening. As someone who has consistently been told I talk too much, this is one that is important to pay attention to. You do not necessarily realize that you are talking too much until you have already done it.

Have some questions on hand to show your interest in your date. And remember not to blurt out the first thing you think in response. Let your date stir the conversation for a while. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

#3 Be honest. We all want to impress our date, especially the first time you are meeting. This is why we wear our best outfit and double check our hair and our teeth beforehand. But, you do not want to lie to make yourself seem more interesting, successful, or cool.

If you tell your date you can play guitar, but you can’t, if things move further they will find out you lied. We all have parts of ourselves we may wish were more impressive, but sharing the good, bad, and ugly is what lets you know if this person is really interested in you, not this front you are putting up.

#4 Have a buffer. A buffer for a first date can come in many forms. After a few bad dates, having one just in case will make you a lot calmer going into the night. There is a small chance you will actually need to use it, and most likely you won’t even think about it once you walk through the door.

A buffer is essentially a security blanket for a first date. It can be having a friend call you a half hour into the date with a fake emergency. It can be a go-to story to change the subject or any excuse to get out. The date itself can be a buffer. If you go get drinks, you can go in saying you can only stay for one drink because you have a pile of work at home. [Read: How to end a date – The good, bad and ugly way]

#5 Remember it is just one night. If you are anything like me, you cannot help but overthink everything. You analyze all your conversations and think about the future way too prematurely. If I agreed to a date with someone, I tend to consider what a relationship would look like with them, but why?

This way of thinking made me get so worked up for a first date. I would be so nervous and expect so much. Instead, remind yourself this is one date. you may be desperately trying to figure out how to have a great first date, but if it doesn’t go well, so what? And if it does, great. No matter the outcome it is not the end of your dating life. A couple of hours on one evening will not make or break you. [Read: The 7 stages of first date panic and how to calm the anxiety]

#6 Be aware of red flags. Some of us are too picky. Others overlook things we probably shouldn’t. If your date calls their ex crazy, do not just let that pass. They may have a hard time taking responsibility for anything they do wrong.

If they make a sexist joke you feel uncomfortable about, don’t think it wasn’t that bad. If this person lets these small red flags show on a first date, it is almost a sure thing they will get bigger and bigger as time goes on. As much as you should relax and have fun, do stay aware. [Read: Instantly recognize a bad first date with these subtle red flags]

#7 Do not drink too much. It is easy to drink too much on a first date. A drink helps reduce your nerves and you feel more comfortable and calm. But once you get to that third or fourth drink and you have yet to eat anything, things could go south quickly.

Not only could you make a fool of yourself, but when you are inebriated with a stranger, a lot of things can go wrong. As I said, you want to have fun, but you also need to stay in a clear mindset.

#8 Avoid negative topics. I am a firm believer in sharing who you are on a first date. There is no need to beat around the bush. If dating someone with the same political views as you is important, bring it up. But, try to keep the topic positive.

I am not saying you can’t talk about deep or heavy topics, but this is a first date, so try to focus on the positive. If you are talking about politics, instead of complaining, talk about the good your party is doing or the growth that you have seen. If you need to talk about your ex, focus on what you learned from that relationship instead of your ex’s faults.

#9 Lose most of your expectations. You will notice I said to lose most of your expectations, not all of them. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to do so. We all have expectations when we go into a first date. We want to get along. We want a second date. We want to have a good time.

Those expectations are perfectly fine, but when you are expecting them to pay, to agree with your way of thinking, to be your perfect match, or to be a dud, your ideals get in the way of the actual date. Hold onto what you want and need from a date, but let go of the unrealistic and specific expectations you may have created. [Read: The art of keeping dates exciting and avoid becoming boring]

#10 Have self-respect. This has nothing to do with kissing or sleeping with someone on a first date. If that is your choice and they consent, go for it and have some safe fun. But if this person is criticizing your job, your success, your looks, or anything that makes you feel less than, leave.

Remember you do not owe this person anything. Sure, we should respect everyone, but if they aren’t showing it to you, do not sit through a stranger attacking your personality, religion, or any other choice. You deserve to be respected. If they don’t respect you, respect yourself and do what is right for you by leaving. [Read: How self respect affects you and the relationships in your life]

#11 Stay open. We all have a list of things we want in a partner. Even if you say you don’t, you do. Somewhere deep down you do. You want someone tall and funny and successful and close with their family, etc. But try not to write someone off just because they don’t check that box.

You never know what has led to this person’s decisions or place in life. Just because they may not be close with their family, like you, it does not mean you wouldn’t be wonderful together. Keep an open mind.

#12 Have fun. It is easy to get sucked into all there is to worry about on a first date. Is your outfit right? Do they share your ethics? Are they polite to the waiter? There are a lot of things you may automatically focus on, but let the first be fun. Whether you are a match or not, you can still have a good time.

#13 Talk about your passions. Whether there is dead air on the date or not, talking about your passions and asking about theirs can really get a conversation going. You can learn what is truly important to them and they you.

There is something about hearing someone talk about what they are passionate about that really lets you know who they are.

#14 Offer to pay. I know, we all have our stance on this. Some go 50/50, others think the guy should pay, blah blah. Whether you are old-fashioned, modern, or just do not really care, offer.

Make the reach. You do not need to make this the norm if you continue dating. But for the first date, just offer. It is the polite thing to do, regardless of gender. [Read: Should you dump these modern day dating trends?]

#15 End the night with the truth. Do not leave the night telling them you will call if you won’t. Do not say you want to see them again if you don’t. And if you aren’t sure, leave it open and reach out later.

There is no need to lead anyone on. It was a first date, likely neither of you are that attached, so speak the truth. Tell them you had a great time or that it was nice to meet them and leave it at that.

[Read: The texting and follow-up guide after a great first date]

There are numerous ways to learn how to have a great first date. Ultimately, it boils down to you and your date. As long as you are both game to have a good time, things should go just fine.

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