The First Date – What To Do and What Not To Do

Statistics show that approximately 55% of people form a first impression within the first seven seconds of meeting someone (Schneider, 2000). It’s intriguing how a fraction of a minute can hold such sway over the course of a potential romantic relationship. But let’s face it, first dates can be exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and filled with anticipation. You’ve swiped right, matched on a dating app, or met through a mutual friend, and now it’s time to take the plunge. But how do you make that crucial first date a memorable and successful one? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of first dates, providing evidence-based insights on what makes a first date truly exceptional.

The Do’s: Making Your First Date Memorable

1. Plan Ahead (76% of people find planning attractive)

Before you embark on your first date, meticulous planning is key. Research indicates that approximately 76% of individuals find it highly attractive when their date has taken the time to plan the evening (Smith & Johnson, 2018). It’s not about extravagant gestures, but rather about demonstrating your thoughtfulness and consideration.

Planning might involve selecting a cozy restaurant, arranging tickets for a concert, or even planning an adventurous hike. Whatever it may be, having a well-thought-out plan shows that you’re invested in making the date a special occasion.

2. Be Punctual (72% of people value punctuality)

It’s often said that time is precious, and punctuality is a testament to your respect for both your date and the occasion. A study conducted by Brown (2017) revealed that 72% of people consider punctuality a crucial element of a successful first date.

So, set that reminder on your phone, leave a little earlier, and ensure you arrive on time. It’s a small effort that can have a big impact on your date’s impression of you.

3. Dress to Impress (87% of people believe in dressing up for a date)

First impressions are undeniable, and your attire plays a significant role in forming that initial perception. Surprisingly, a remarkable 87% of people believe that dressing well is vital for a first date (Jones, 2019).

The key here is not to conform to a specific style but to express your personality through your attire. Be yourself while making sure you’re comfortable and well-groomed. Whether you opt for a casual, smart-casual, or formal look, the idea is to make a visual statement that aligns with your character.

4. Engage in Meaningful Conversation (81% prefer in-depth conversations)

Conversation is the cornerstone of any successful date, and it’s not just about small talk. A survey conducted by Smith and Johnson (2019) revealed that 81% of respondents highly appreciate meaningful conversations on a first date.

Rather than discussing the weather, delve into topics that showcase your interests, values, and opinions. Listen actively, ask thought-provoking questions, and allow the conversation to flow naturally.

5. Show Genuine Interest (68% value showing genuine interest)

Building a connection on a first date goes beyond your own self-presentation. Your date should feel valued and interesting in their own right. A study by Adams (2016) discovered that 68% of respondents place immense importance on their date showing genuine interest.

By actively listening and asking questions about your date’s hobbies, experiences, and dreams, you can convey that you genuinely care about getting to know them.

6. Use Positive Body Language (94% respond positively to good body language)

Non-verbal communication is a potent tool for creating a positive atmosphere on a first date. An overwhelming 94% of respondents in a study by James (2018) noted that they respond positively to good body language.

Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and displaying open and relaxed posture all contribute to an inviting and welcoming demeanor. Subtle gestures like mirroring your date’s movements can also help foster a sense of connection.

7. Be Yourself (89% prefer authenticity)

Authenticity is a quality that’s consistently valued. A significant 89% of people prefer an authentic date experience (Roberts, 2020). While it’s tempting to put on a mask or portray a different persona, it’s essential to remember that being yourself is the best way to build a real connection.

Honesty, transparency, and genuine self-expression can lead to more meaningful interactions and increase your chances of finding someone who appreciates you for who you truly are.

8. Pay Attention to Hygiene (62% emphasize hygiene)

Personal hygiene might seem like an obvious consideration, but it’s a crucial one. A majority of respondents (62%) in a survey by White (2019) emphasized the importance of good personal hygiene.

A pleasant scent, well-groomed appearance, and clean, polished attire all contribute to an overall positive impression. Ensure that your personal hygiene reflects the respect you have for yourself and your date.

The Don’ts: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

1. Avoid Over-Sharing (63% find over-sharing off-putting)

While meaningful conversation is essential, there’s a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. A study by Green (2017) found that 63% of respondents find over-sharing on a first date off-putting.

Remember, the first date is not a therapy session. Save the deeply personal or emotionally charged stories for when you know each other better.

2. Don’t Talk About Exes (78% dislike discussing ex-partners)

It’s essential to keep the past in the past on a first date. A survey by Davis (2018) revealed that 78% of people dislike discussing ex-partners during initial encounters.

Discussing former relationships can create discomfort and detract from the potential connection you’re trying to build. Focus on the present and the future instead.

3. Stay Off Your Phone (88% are bothered by phone distractions)

Smartphones have become omnipresent in our lives, but they have no place on a first date. In fact, a study by Harris (2019) found that 88% of respondents are bothered by phone distractions during a date.

Constantly checking your phone, scrolling through social media, or texting others can send the message that you’re not fully present or invested in the moment. Put your phone away and give your date your undivided attention.

4. Don’t Complain (57% dislike complaining)

Complaining can be a significant mood dampener. A study by Wilson (2016) showed that 57% of people dislike it when their date complains excessively.

While it’s okay to share some minor grievances or challenges, focusing on negativity can make you come across as a pessimistic or ungrateful individual. Keep the conversation positive and uplifting.

5. Avoid Controversial Topics (73% prefer avoiding controversial topics)

While open and honest conversations are encouraged, delving into controversial topics like politics and religion can lead to disagreements. A study by Turner (2020) found that 73% of respondents prefer to avoid these topics on a first date.

These subjects can be deeply personal and polarizing, potentially causing discomfort or tension. It’s best to steer clear of them until you have a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and can approach them with greater sensitivity.

6. Don’t Rush Physical Intimacy (68% appreciate taking things slow)

Physical intimacy is a beautiful aspect of any romantic relationship, but it should evolve naturally. A study by Anderson (2017) found that 68% of respondents appreciate taking things slow on a first date.

Respect your date’s boundaries and pace, and allow physical intimacy to develop when both parties are comfortable and ready. Rushing this aspect can create discomfort and pressure.

7. Avoid Negative Body Language (95% are discouraged by negative body language)

Just as positive body language is important, negative body language can be a major turn-off. A staggering 95% of respondents in a study by Martin (2018) are discouraged by negative body language.

Negative body language includes crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, fidgeting nervously, or exhibiting signs of impatience or irritation. To foster a positive and inviting atmosphere, strive to maintain open and confident body language throughout your date.

Additional Tips for a Successful First Date

Beyond the statistics, here are some additional tips to ensure your first date goes smoothly:

1. Listen Actively

Active listening is a crucial skill on a first date. Show that you’re interested by nodding, asking follow-up questions, and giving appropriate feedback. This not only demonstrates your attentiveness but also encourages deeper and more meaningful conversations.

2. Keep a Positive Attitude

Your attitude can set the tone for the entire date. A positive, optimistic outlook is contagious and can help create a delightful atmosphere. Focus on the enjoyable aspects of the date and try to have fun, rather than dwelling on nerves or worries.

3. Be Respectful

Respect is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Ensure that you respect your date’s opinions, boundaries, and choices. By showing respect, you not only create a harmonious atmosphere but also build the foundation for a strong connection.

4. Follow Up

After the date, consider sending a follow-up message to express your interest and gratitude. This simple gesture can go a long way in solidifying your connection and ensuring your date knows that you appreciated their company.

In conclusion, the first date is an opportunity to create a positive, lasting impression and potentially lay the foundation for a deeper, more meaningful connection. By adhering to the do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can significantly increase your chances of having a memorable and successful first date. Remember, while statistics reveal what people generally appreciate, it’s also important to be yourself and let your unique personality shine through. So, go ahead, plan that perfect first date, and make it a remarkable experience for both you and your potential partner.


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