This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

How To Impress On A First Date

To pay or not to pay?

First dates can be nerve-wracking, there's no doubt about it.

Often likened to a job interview for your romantic life, first dates are when your best attempts to impress can take a disastrous turn for the worse.

Even though these days it's less usual to meet without at least getting to know each other a little bit online first, a cute profile picture and some great text banter is no match for the chemistry that does (or doesn't) occur when you meet up in person.

So how do you make sure your first date turns into a second?


First date ideas

Don't want to resort to the clichéd dinner-and-movie, but aren't really into indoor rock-climbing either?

"I advise my clients to avoid sitting opposite a first date in a dinner/drink/coffee scenario. The intensity of face to face interaction and constant eye contact can be a bit overwhelming and neither of you will be seen in your best light if you are feeling uncomfortable," dating expert Melanie Schilling told HuffPost Australia.

"Opt for something active, even if it's just a walk. Engaging in a fun and energizing activity will help you both feel at ease, hopefully break the ice by laughing at yourselves and each other, and reduce the first date anxiety."

Three things to do before leaving the house

  1. SMS three friends to tell them where you are going (safety first).
  2. Select an outfit that highlights the one thing you like about your body –- yes, we all have ONE if we really think about it.
  3. Write down your three greatest strengths and a story to illustrate each one –- great for date story-telling and building your confidence.

- Melanie Schilling.

Dating mistakes

According to Schilling, there are two types of dating faux pas: intentional and unintentional.

"Intentional dating fails are made by people who have the wrong motivation to be dating in the first place," Schilling said. "They may be late, rude or dismissive.

Nobody likes to be kept waiting.
Getty Images
Nobody likes to be kept waiting.

"Unintentional fails are more subtle and often result from a lack of self awareness; they may be poor listeners, lacking in eye contact or unable to build rapport.

"On the surface level, the most common dating fails I hear about are: lateness, not following up with a text, poor listening skills, lack of conversational prowess, bad breath and daggy dress sense."

Should I offer to pay?

This is a tricky one.

"Today, it is impossible to predict a person's beliefs on gender roles in dating," Schilling said. "It doesn't pay to make assumptions and the best approach is to split the bill on the first date, at least until you can get a read on where you both stand."

"You're paying for this... right?"
Getty Images/iStockphoto
"You're paying for this... right?"

Should I play hard to get?

According to Schilling, the answer is an unequivocal no.

"I don't believe in game playing," she said. "I believe you should treat your date the way you would treat a friend -- show respect, listen to them, support their efforts in story telling (don't leave them hanging) and use the date as an opportunity to test out the chemistry.

"Respect is key and there is such a thing as dating karma."

Can I have a drink beforehand?

While it can be super tempting to use alcohol as a confidence booster, you absolutely don't want to be arriving to your date with too many bevvies under your belt. To be safe, Schilling advises you have no more than one drink before meeting up.

A drink or two is fine, but don't go overboard.
massimofusaro via Getty Images
A drink or two is fine, but don't go overboard.

"For many people, one drink is enough to add a little Dutch Courage but not too much to lose control," Schilling said.

"My advice is to limit your drinks to two or three on a date. Better yet, make your first date a coffee, walk or gallery visit to avoid drinking altogether and keep your wits about you."

What should I do if there's no vibe?

Sometimes, no matter how 'well' a date goes, at the end of the day you're just not feeling it. But can you really decide to give someone the flick after a single meeting, or do they deserve a second chance?

"It depends on the compatibility in other areas," Schilling advised. "For instance, if there is little chemistry on the first date but you've been communicating online and have loads in common, share similar values and life goals, maybe give it a second chance.

"If the physical is all you have in common, and it's flat -- cut and run."

Happy dating, lovers!

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