One of the things I get asked about the most in my work is for first date tips for women. I’ve met women who are getting back to dating after a divorce, and who are understandably nervous about going on first dates (especially if it’s been decades since they last did). I’ve also met women who date regularly, but who still get nervous on first dates, or who want advice on how to behave so that they get a second date.
Either way, no matter what your situation, my advice will be the same.
I’ll get into specifics in just a minute, with some valuable first date tips for women like you, but first, let me just say that the best thing you can do on a first date is just to be your absolute best self.
It’s that simple.
Trying to be someone else will only cause trouble down the road. If he thinks you’re giggly and bubbly (and he’s into that), he’s going to feel tricked when you later reveal that you’re actually super intelligent and not an airhead at all.
So yeah, be yourself.
Let’s move on to some first date advice that I’ve seen work countless times.
First Date Tips for Women #1. Having a Fun, Playful Attitude is Key
I know women who act like drill sergeants on dates:
What do you do for a living?
Where do you work?
Do you have kids?
Have you ever been married?
These women machine-gun questions at the poor guys until they’re just about dead. This isn’t an interview for a life mate. It’s a first date!
It’s important to be playful and just have fun with a date. Sure, ask a few questions, but let him ask them too. You want to aim for a dialogue, not an inquest. So don’t come armed with 20,000 questions. Let the conversation flow as it will.
Questions are a good thing on first dates: researchers at Harvard University found, in a study, that women who asked on average 15 questions on a first date were more likely to get a second date. Realize that you don’t have to get all your serious questions answered on the first date to get to know this guy. In fact, you might get to know him better by keeping the conversation light and easy.
Rather than only asking questions that help you understand if this guy is long-term material (because trust me: even if he answers the way you want, you can in no way know that you’re compatible like that on a first date), throw in some zany questions to warm him up:
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Where’s the last place you traveled?
Read any good books?
What’s the last song you listened to?
I understand that you might be nervous on a first date, and so might have trouble loosening up and being yourself. Here’s a tip: when I was single, I used to call an old friend and have a quick chat to get myself into a fun playful state. He’d make jokes about how I’d mess things up on the date and we’d laugh. So then all my worries were dispelled and I was more relaxed heading to the date.
Try that. Or something else, like watching a comedy show before you leave. Playing with your dog. Listening to a comedian on the drive over. Just find something that puts you at ease before you meet someone new.
It doesn’t have to be too serious and at the end of the day, it’s all about just enjoying yourself.
First Date Tips for Women #2. Don’t Worry If It Doesn’t Work Out
It amazes me how some people put so much stock into first dates. They’re already planning the wedding before they’ve met the guy face-to-face!
Sorry to say it, but it’s likely that it won’t work out! Most first dates are just that – a first and only date — so don’t freak out if he doesn’t turn out to be the way you thought, or if you don’t have chemistry right off the bat.
Here’s one of the first date tips for women I like to dole out: if you shift your thinking to looking at first dates as the opportunity to sharpen your social skills and have fun, you’ll get much more out of them. If you’ve been in a relationship with the same man for 30 years, you probably need some practice flirting and talking to men in general. Even if you don’t feel a spark with a particular date, you can still practice those skills.
And in fact, if you’re not sure what you want out of romance right now, recreational dating is a great way to figure it out. Going on a lot of first dates with different types of dudes will quickly help you understand what you’re looking for, and you can get some great experiences and meals out of it!
And who knows? You might end up making a really great guy friend. Having a guy friend is great for single ladies because he can help you decipher dudes’ behavior, tell you what they’re really thinking, and warn you away from guys who will break your heart. And if you’re not dating, you’ll always have a +1 to go out with.
If you’re in the middle of your date and realize this ain’t happening, have the decency to see the date all the way through (unless he’s being super sleazy, then lay down the law to get him to back off, or feel free to cut the date short. You don’t have to put up with that).
If at the end of the date he says, that was fun! Can we do it again? you can say something like, it was fun, but I didn’t feel a romantic connection. Perhaps we can go out as friends?
If he leans in to kiss you and you’re not feeling it, divert into a hug. He’ll get the picture.
And if you were into him and he didn’t reciprocate your interest, don’t text him after in the hopes that you’ll change his mind. You can send one had a great time text, and if he doesn’t respond, move on.
First Date Tips for Women #3. Wear What Makes You Feel Good
I don’t know a woman in the world who doesn’t want first date tips on what to wear. First and foremost, you should be comfortable. Don’t put on anything that’s too tight, that constricts your breathing, or that your boobs will fall out of.
I’m just saying.
If you’re not sure what the dress code is for the place he’s taking you on the first date, look it up on Yelp and see what type of clothing other women are wearing in the pictures. Most places have a wide range of dress styles, from dressy casual to more formal. It never hurts to be slightly more formal. Better to show up in a dress and heels than torn jeans and flip flops!
Keep your outfit simple and streamlined, and avoid loud patterns that might distract attention away from what you’re saying on your date.
Realize that what you wear will communicate certain things to your date. If you go for the cleavage top, he might assume he can get lucky tonight. If you show up in gym clothes, it tells him you put zero effort into looking nice, and that might put him off. Find a balance between looking polished and not looking like you tried too hard.
Here are a few more pointers for what to wear on a first date:
- Never wear something you haven’t worn before. Test it out beforehand.
- Keep the jewelry to a minimum. Pick one stand-out piece, like a chunky bracelet.
- Focus on one bold aspect of your makeup, like smoky eyes or red lips. Not both.
- A light spritz of your favorite perfume can draw him to you.
First Date Tips for Women #4. Focus on Your Behavior on a First Date
- Start with killer confidence.
- Don’t focus on what you’re saying; focus on your body language.
- Do a little research on him (but no stalking!).
- Don’t be afraid to poke fun at him a bit!
- Don’t get drunk.
1. Start with killer confidence.
2. Don’t focus on what you’re saying; focus on your body language.
I’ve already told you the importance of not taking your first date too seriously. But make sure you smile a lot. Psychologists have found that when you smile on a first date — a genuine smile, not a pasted-on one — that can set positive expectations for the rest of the date. You can be sure that not many frowners get asked out on a second date!
Smiling communicates that you’re happy, and if he senses that, he’ll be more eager to keep making you smile.
4. Do a little research on him (but no stalking!)
There sometimes is a fine line between researching a man you’re going out with and stalking him. I mean, c’mon: can you honestly say you’ve never Googled a guy or looked him up on social media?
My first date advice is to research within set parameters that you obviously have access to. If you met on a dating app, feel free to review what he’s written on his profile to spark conversation.
I saw on your profile that you’re into surfing! That’s on my bucket list.
What you don’t want to do is come off crazy on a first date (save that for later!) by mentioning something on his LinkedIn or Facebook page when he didn’t share it with you. You might be tempted to dig into this guy on other channels, but realize it’s going to be hard to remember what information you found where, so you might embarrass yourself by mentioning a photo he posted on Instagram when you shouldn’t have, so save the deep dive on his background for later.
5. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at him a bit!
Guys love a little back-and-forth teasing. It’s a great flirting strategy, actually. If he gets salad dressing on his chin, ask if he wants a little lettuce to go with it. Tease just enough to make him laugh, but not so much that you offend him.
And be willing to take a little poke in return. Showing that you’re the kind of gal who doesn’t take herself too seriously is a great way to get a second date.
6. Don’t get (too) drunk
Yes, you might be nervous, and yes, he might be happy to order you another drink, but one of my biggest first date tips for women is: do not get drunk. For one, you’ll keep your wits about you in case this guy isn’t a nice guy and hopes to take advantage of an inebriated lady tonight. But even if he’s a nice guy, realize how you’ll come off if you immediately get toasted on a first date.
You know your limits drinkwise. Decide beforehand how many you can have and stay relaxed and not too buzzed. Drink slowly and drink lots of water in between. If he tries to buy you another drink, tell him you’re a lightweight and need to stop while you’re ahead.
[And just a quick safety tip for a first date: don’t leave your drink alone with your date. The chances that he might slip you a date rape drug are slim, but better safe than sorry. And here’s something cool: a straw that will detect the presence of a roofie!]
First Date Tips for Women #5. Stay Away From Your Phone
There’s nothing more annoying than someone constantly checking their phone while they’re in the company of others. But this bad habit is so prevalent — 71% of us do it — that there’s even a term for it: sidebarring.
There’s no reason you should be texting, checking social media, or making your grocery list when you’re on a first date. Even if you’re completely bored and ready for the date to be over, have some respect for the guy and keep your phone in your purse.
Even if you normally love shooting photos of your meal and ‘Gramming them, resist the urge on a first date…unless he does it too, in which case, you’re a match made in heaven!
First Date Tips for Women #6. Be Yourself and Be Honest
I said this at the start of my article on first date tips for women, didn’t I? I told you to be yourself.
You may find yourself incredibly dull and think there’s nothing for any guy to get excited about, but you’re wrong. You don’t have to share everything about yourself on a first date (like the fact that you have an insane collection of Hello Kitty memorabilia), but you should be honest about who you are. If you’re not, as I said, it’ll come back to bite you in the ass.
Don’t try to overdeliver when talking about yourself. If you work as an executive assistant, don’t try to play up your role as “next in line for CEO.”
If you do yoga once a year, maybe don’t bring it up as something you’re passionate about.
You get what I’m saying. Trust in your ability to attract a man based on who you really are, not who you think he wants you to be. Because probably you’re wrong about what he wants anyway.
First Date Tips for Women #7. If He Wants to Pay, Let Him
I know, I know. There’s a lot of debate out there about whether you, as an independent feminist, should allow a man to pay for a first date.
Don’t make it a thing.
He asked you out expecting to pay for the meal. He’s not waiting for you to offer to pay.
You can offer to split the bill — just once — but beyond that just have the good grace to let him pay without putting up a fight. Thank him.
First Date Tips for Women #8. Suggest Something Out of the Ordinary
If you’ve been on several first dates lately, you might be tired of the whole “grab a drink” or “dinner and a movie” routine, especially if you don’t drink alcohol or have dietary restrictions. Take the opportunity to suggest an unexpected venue for a first date, like:
- A multi-stop themed culinary adventure
- An escape room
- A holiday event, like haunted house or Christmas fair
- A jazz club
- A dive bar
- A museum
Doing something other than typical on a first date can mix things up and open the door for great dialogue. You can learn a lot about someone in an escape room!
I hope that these first date tips for women like you come in handy on your next first date. Remember: he’s probably as nervous as you are, so relax a little.
If it’s meant to be with this guy, you can’t do much to mess things up on that first date. Even if you spill your drink, fall, or make a dumb joke, if he’s into you, he’s into you.
After the date, you can do a post-mortem. Were there questions that seemed to make him feel awkward? Did you talk too fast? Chew with your mouth open? Do anything to revile him?
The real test will be in whether or not he asks you out for a second date. If he does —even if you weren’t sure how you felt about him — accept, and see what happens when you’re less nervous and know him better.
Look at every first date as an opportunity to improve your dating skills and get to know a wide range of people. If the two of you hit it off, then great! If not, you lost a few hours of your life at best (and probably still had a good meal or drinks to make up for it).
Stop putting so much stock into that first date. Yes, you want to make a great first impression, but you want to be yourself and be relaxed when you do.
What first date tips for women do you have to share? Leave them in the comments below?
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