Beginnings - The First Date

The First DateIt's a new year and you've decided to get out more, meet more people, and perhaps find a new love interest. You signed up for an online dating service and have received some interesting replies. Now it's time to meet someone and have that "first date". Here are some suggestions to help that first meeting go smoothly.

Get to Know Them First

Before you schedule dinner and dancing out on the town, buy tickets for a play or concert, or book a plane to go parachuting, meet somewhere and get to know the person. Planning activities for that first date just gets in the way of talking with that person. Find a place to meet where you can just sit and talk for a couple of hours. A light lunch somewhere or just a coffee shop meeting are good places to chat. Then you'll know if there will be a second date and what activities you both may enjoy doing together.

Dress Correctly

People argue about this often. They say to be themselves they need to show up in a T-shirt and torn jeans. That may work if you already know a lot about the other person and their expectations.  Your goal is to look good, look comfortable, and look confident. Dress as if you are going to a special occasion, because you are. And if dressing up is something you do only twice a year, it shows your date what you are capable of.

No Distractions

Go to your first meeting prepared to be focused on getting to know the other person, letting them know something about you, and enjoying the time. Get rid of anything that will keep you from those goals. Keep the cell phone in your pocket and turned off. Don't meet at a place full of TVs or loud music. Don't bring your dog or your children.

Do a Little Conversation Planning

Think about getting ready for an interview. You will probably make a list of questions you want to ask. And you may practice your answers to questions you think they will ask you. You can do the same for your first date. Make a list of things that might be fun to talk about. Keep the controversial topics off of the list for now.  And remember to ask open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions. You'll learn more and the conversation will last longer.

Use Your Listening Skills

Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Don't just wait for them to stop talking so you can talk again. The first date is about getting to know each other. The other person is telling you something about themselves with every sentence they speak. It's your job to learn from what they are saying. People also know when someone is not really listening and that can make for a short first date.

Have an Honest Meeting

Just as mentioned above, every sentence you say to the other person tells them something about you. Who are you talking about when you speak? Is it really you or someone you would like to be? Don't leave out important details like being a single-parent with children or that you're between jobs and living in your parent's basement right now. And don't embellish. If you work at a local mall nail salon, don't suddenly become the owner of a prestigious beauty parlor downtown. The truth all comes out eventually and you'll have a lot of anxiety trying to hide it until then. It's better to find out on this first date if there are any "deal breakers" in the mix.

Find a Way to Relax

Spend a couple of hours doing something mellow before your first date. Don't do something that'll get you all "wound up" right before your meeting. And if you are just really nervous about this meeting, tell the other person when you get there. They will appreciate knowing that and will probably help make it a more relaxed atmosphere. They may even admit to being nervous, too, and you've already found something you have in common!

Have Fun

The first date is a chance for two strangers to come together and get to know each other a little bit. Don't worry about what will happen long-term. Enjoy the moment together. You may have met a future friend or lover. Or just an interesting person. And you still got to practice your first-date skills!

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