First Date: Step By Step

Modern dating often has us in a whirlwind of apps and endless swiping. Sometimes, it feels like we’re having a pre-first date before we even meet each other for the actual first date. Millennials and Gen-Zers can be quick to send witty comebacks, gifs and quirky emoticons as the perfect icebreakers. Connect quickly and easily enough, and you’ve likely scheduled a first date. However, the reality is that in a world where we are busier than ever, navigating dating can feel more like an obligatory task rather than the possibility of excitedly connecting with a potential partner. Then, there’s the reality of gearing up for the first date. Who makes the plans? How do we authentically translate our online personas to real life? How do we make dating feel more fun? And how can we ease dating anxieties, especially the ones that lead up to the first-date scaries? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! We’ve put together a step-by-step guide of first date tips that’ll be sure to help you bag that second date, pending the chemistry of course. 

Step 1: Keep the conversation open

This may not seem like the first step you expected, but hear us out! As we mentioned, most of the time, our first interactions are done before the actual first date. If you’re matching on a dating app, break the ice by using the information on their profile. Be open about what you liked about their profile. 

In this example, the two people exchange playful banter. Referencing the humor in one’s profile, the opener uses this to admit that they find the match to be funny and outgoing. The conversation continues to discuss the peculiarities of meeting and connecting on a dating app. Any information that a potential date uses on their profile is worth noting and using to connect either in the dating app and/or in-person conversation. This is also a great way to bridge beyond the formalities of typical first conversations. There’s no problem with asking someone how their day is going or what they do for a living, but using the information on one’s profile not only creates a more personal ice breaker, it also shows the potential date that you are paying attention and “listening” before you even meet in person.

If you happen to meet your date irl instead of a dating app, you can still use these tips. Pay attention to their cues, their body language, what they talk about. Everything is information for you to take in and use as further conversation. Be open and curious, listen and also share your own things. While there’s nothing wrong with a little silence or pauses, having conversation fall flat before or during a first date can be a complete deal breaker. We want potential partners who engage us and vice versa!

Step 2: Confidence is attractive.

If you’re feeling nervous before the date, spend some time hyping yourself up. Whether that’s with a few power poses, jamming to your favorite playlist, or taking some time for some deep breaths, this will help you to ground yourself going into the date. We can all get a little nervous before a first date, and sometimes sharing that with our date can be a cute way to share an authentic moment of vulnerability. Chances are, they are probably feeling a little nervous, too! Talking about that briefly can be another way to break the ice and ease into the date together. It can potentially build a shared moment together and bridge building confidence together on the first date! Before you know it, the nerves will shake off and you’ll find yourself much more settled in for the rest of any enjoyable date. 

Step 3: Agree to a place that works for both of you.

If you have a go-to spot that you feel most comfortable going to, don’t be afraid to suggest that as a date! However, don’t be afraid to switch it up and try somewhere new, if that excites you as well. Whether you both agree to a coffee date, an afternoon walk and picnic, or dinner, it’s important that both of you feel excited about where you’re meeting up for your first date. Don’t leave it to chance. Get those schedules out and see what lines up best for the both of you, pending on what you imagine your first date to look like. While it may seem tedious, finding a spot and time you both agree to and feel excited about already sets you up for a promising first date. 

Step 4: Enjoy yourself, but keep it together!

If you’re enjoying drinks as part of your date, be mindful of your intake. Whether you enjoy the libations and/or you’re using a drink or two to shake off the first date jitters, it can be easy to go a little too far. While there’s nothing wrong with overly enjoying yourself, save the overindulgence for the next night out with friends, and not on a first date. It’s difficult to connect with someone, especially on a first date when one is enjoying the flow of drinks a little more than the other person. Know your limits, and you’ll be just fine! 

Step 5: Self-awareness is key.

We all want to put our best foot forward during new encounters. On a first date, we want to find the balance of being authentically ourselves, while also being respectful and mindful to the person we’re on a date with. Here’s a few things to consider that can heighten your self-awareness on your date:

  • Stay off your phone. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally checking when you or your date runs to the bathroom, but you want to communicate to your date that they have your attention. If you need to take a moment at the beginning to share a location or let your friends know you’re not being kidnapped in a trunk, let your date know! They may appreciate the slight humor as well as you expressing your intent. 
  • Actively listen as much as you talk. We touched on this in step one. Part of great communication is listening just as much as you talk. Take cues from your date and what they are sharing with you. You can ask questions or use validating statements such as, “that seems like something you’re really passionate about! Tell me more.” Finding these little ways to actively engage is a huge first date (or any date) plus.
  • Don’t be afraid to check in on your date. Maybe that looks like checking in with yourself and seeing if you’re enjoying your time. Are you feeling drained and ready to leave? Is this your social battery or you not enjoying your date? Is there a time constraint? Check-ins also help to navigate whether or not you both want to stay on this date or follow up with a second date. 

Step 6: Offer to split (or pickup) the check.

Don’t assume your date is going to pick up the bill. Offering to split the bill maintains your sense of autonomy as well as creates a mutual reciprocation of the evening. Following this step also mirrors your self respect and self responsibility. This reflects your confidence! If your date insists on picking up the full tab, you can follow up by offering to pay for dessert or by insisting that the next date is on you (assuming you want a second date). 

Step 7: Let them know your vibes. 

If you’re vibing your date and want to kiss them, let them know! Don’t be afraid to take the initiative. Your date may not be on the same page, but don’t let that keep you from taking a chance and going after your wants. This can also be a part of checking in with your date. Communicate if you’re having a good time, would like to go out again, or if it’s a “thanks, but no thanks” sitch. 

Once your first date is done, send a follow up message. Maybe that’s later in the day/night, or you send it the next day. Stay clear in your conversation. Be the first one to text, unless they beat you to punchline. Let them know what you enjoyed about your first date or mention some afterthoughts about something they may have expressed to you on the date. Again, this message can be an iteration of what you enjoyed about your date and/or letting them know if you want to continue getting to know each other or not. 

Dating can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

We hope you feel more confident with these first date steps. If you’re feeling particularly nervous as an introvert dating in a modern world, check out this book Courtney wrote designed just for you! We are here to help you navigate and figure out what dating looks like for you. When in doubt, remember your confidence in who you are and trust the rest will fall into place. Sometimes the best thing to do before a first date is to get out of your head and enjoy the present moment. Most importantly, have fun! If it doesn’t feel fun, we encourage you to reevaluate what’s missing for you to feel the enjoyment and excitement of a first date. Need more clarity? Reach out to us. We are here to give you that added support.