First dates can be amazing: so much excitement, anticipation, and nervousness wrapped into one. Great conversation, maybe a few fancy cocktails or a fun walk through the park. Or…they can be awkward AF: hilarious fodder for your group text with your friends, or just a reminder that sometimes dating (or people, rather) can really suck.
Dating & Relationship Coach Brian C. Dunn shared with us some of his favorite tips to help you have more success on first dates and make better, more conscious connections.
Have the right mindset
The best way to calm your nerves (aka ‘the butterflies’) and get in the right mindset. Don’t think of a first date as trying to figure out if they’re your “soulmate.” Instead, focus on what matters. Namely…being present, connecting, and having a good time.
Your biggest goal for any first date should just be to…
- be present
- have fun
- figure out if you like them and if you to want to see them again
First dates are about getting to know each other. And that can be a little hard, and awkward, sitting across from each other at a table over a big meal for an hour or more.
The best kind of low key, low pressure first date is grabbing drinks on a weeknight or coffee on a weekend afternoon to start. You can sit at the bar, a small table, outside, or anywhere, and just focus on chatting with each other.
If you’re the one planning the date, you should also plan ahead and have some places in mind that you can transition to in case the date goes well. That way you can move things to a park near the coffee shop, a restaurant around the corner from the bar, or a bowling alley a few blocks away from the first venue.
Planning ahead makes all the difference, and dates that span two or three venues feel a lot more exciting and engaging. If a first date is fun, your chances of having a second date are exponentially higher.
Be a good communicator
People remember how you make them feel more than the exact things you say. Be present, be a good listener, and ask follow-up questions. This will make them feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Good conversation is like a dance. Make sure you’re talking, asking questions, and giving your date a chance to talk and ask you questions as well. To be interesting, be interested and engaged.
Don’t worry about trying to impress the other person, or try too hard to be funny or witty. That’s the quickest way to get trapped in your head and miss half the conversation, including all of the non-verbal / emotional cues.
Here are some easy ideas for engaging questions you can ask to open up the conversation and dig deeper once you get past the small talk.
- What were you like as a kid? How different are you now versus then?
- Do you have a dream that you’re pursuing?
- Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the items on it?
- If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill or talent (foreign language, musical instrument, singing, cooking, etc.), what would it be?
- What’s the hardest or scariest thing you’ve ever done?
- If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money and the rest of your life?
If you’re having fun, the other person is going to have a good time too. Any date that’s fun is a success, regardless of outcome.
Brian teaches dating classes online and works with clients 1-on-1 to help them navigate the dating pool with confidence. Get more advice on dating, relationships, and personal growth from Brian’s website here , and follow him on Instagram for daily and weekly content.