A first date may never be a relaxing experience (after all, no matter how down-to-earth you are, you’ll still worry about the broccoli in your teeth), but it doesn’t have to be ulcer material either.
Basic rules can be so obvious, they may sound silly. You’d be surprised by how often they’re disregarded, with dire consequences. So a word to the wise: To make your first date as comfortable as possible, follow the ten rules outlined here:
Pick an activity that you enjoy: Picking something you enjoy has a few advantages: First, it ensures that at least one person will be having a good time. Second, it offers an insight into who you are — you know, that honesty thing. Third, it means that you’ve set the stage for something you can afford — since only a phony or a masochist or a nincompoop would break his or her own bank on a first date.
Pick an activity that you can easily afford: Don’t try and snow somebody on the first date by spending gobs of money. First of all, how do you keep that type of spending up? The dangers of throwing money around are that it makes you look cheap later, when you scale back your spending to accommodate your budget, and you never know whether your date likes you or your wallet.
Do something that doesn’t require new clothes: New clothes are often uncomfortable, and can unexpectedly bunch, rip, or gap. Besides, why add the worry about spilling red wine on your new outfit to the other stress of a first date? Why worry about clothes when there are more important things to worry about, like the broccoli between your front teeth or whether your date really likes you or is just being polite. Wear your happy, easy-to-wear, good luck, appropriate-to-wear clothes.
Go where you can talk without getting thrown out: America’s favorite first date, may be a movie, but it doesn’t give you the opportunity to talk.
Go to a place that’s easy to get to: Long car, bus, train, and — God forbid — plane trips may be fun once you get to know one another, but for a first date, it’s really risky.
Do something that isn’t competitive: Avoid arm wrestling on the first date. Although some relationships thrive on tension, it’s hard to put competitive feelings in a context when you don’t know each other. Even if you’re not competing with each other, how you deal with someone trying to beat you while the date you’re trying to impress is watching gets pretty dicey.
Pick an activity that doesn’t involve a lot of alcohol: Both of you are going to feel a bit nervous anyway. Why add the temptations and problems of alcohol, especially if you have to drive home?
Leave time to get to know each other: A date that is chock-full of activity keeps you busy, but if the purpose is a chance to get to know one another, some quiet time is a great idea. Without a bunch of distracting noise, activity, or an audience, you can talk to and get a sense of one another.
Do something that doesn’t involve high-ticket others: High-ticket others include friends, family, exes, kids, animals, or colleagues. If your first date involves your parents, sibs, workmates, or people who know you and love you, the date is going to feel like an audition.
Find an activity that doesn’t last more than a couple of hours: Brevity is not only the soul of wit, but it is also the essence of a good date. The key is to leave ’em wanting more. If you both had a good time, you’ll both anticipate date two.