You are your own worst critic, besides from your date that is sitting across from you at the table; watching how you chew your food, taking mental side notes of whether or not your outfit matches and closely observing your facial expressions all while trying to figure out if there is enough chemistry for a second date.
But in fact, studies have shown that chemistry usually presents itself not on the first date, but on the second. After all, it is not only about the physical attraction (contrary to popular belief) that determines whether or not a second date is in the cards, but the topics of conversations, emotional engagement and manners all have a large role in whether you two could be a potential match or whether you actively choose to never speak to this person again. The dating game is an imperfect market: You may dazzle your date with your wit and mega-watt smile only to never hear from them again. As with any complex market, there are some underlying principles to dating that are predictable such as rules to follow on a first date.
1. Be on time.
Nobody appreciates waiting around for his or her date to arrive late. It can be really awkward standing outside the restaurant alone or even worse, sitting at the bar or a table alone, wondering if he or she will ever show. Punctuality is not only a key element to success but it is also a sign of respect for others. Of course things come up like traffic, getting lost, or an emergency at work; however when these event do occur, please let your date know that you are running late beforehand and give a legitimate reason why. If you are panicked and rushing in late to meet your date, take a deep breath, smile and greet your with a heartfelt apology. Kindness and humility can also go a long ways.
2. Listen and ask intriguing questions.
Nobody wants to hear you talk about yourself for the entire evening. Yes, pride and self-love are important but so is listening and learning about your date. After all you both are here to get to know each other, you already know who you are. Ask intriguing questions that provoke emotion instead of the run of the mill “What do you do for work?” Questions such as, “Where has been your favorite place to travel and why?” or, “What is it about your job that you love?” are more likely to provoke emotions and further the conversation. Remember to engage in active listening by asking follow up questions or commenting on a statement your date made. Your date will be impressed when you remember a detail about a conversation in the future.
3. Don’t bring up your ex.
We all have exes and we all have baggage and that is okay. What is not okay is when you talk about your past relationships on a first date. You are there to get to know a new person and share new experiences so do not let your ex get in the way of that. Bringing up an ex on a first date can make you seem like you may still have feelings for him or her or you may have some unresolved issues that need to be addressed. Keep in mind that dating new people is not a healthy way to get over your ex.
4. Have fun.
Many believe that dating is stressful, scary and even a waste of time but remember that it can be fun, especially if you keep an open mind and maintain a positive outlook. Even if you don’t meet your prince charming or Cinderella, you still have an opportunity to laugh, let your hair down and practice your conversational skills. Social encounters are good for the soul, especially if your glass is half full.
5. Stay off your phone.
One of the biggest pet peeves in today’s society is trying to have a conversation with an individual who is busy on their phone. You are on a date, with a real human being, so please take an hour break from texting, social media and surfing the web and focus on the present. Studies have shown that large number of individuals who experience a bad first date do so because their date spent most of their time on their mobile device. If you really need to use your phone, make it quick while your date goes to the bathroom, otherwise turn it on silent and put it away; out of sight, out of mind, right?
6. Stay away from controversial topics.
Although debates at dinner can be interesting, it is best to stay away from hot topics such as religion, politics, and finances. Yes, it may be important that you share the same political and religious views, but there is a time and place to have these discussions and the first date is not one of them. Taking the time to get to know someone and understanding their views and background can allow you to talk about controversial topics overtime without stirring up emotions.
According to a study, “Maybe we should start worrying about second impressions more than first impressions because it turns out they matter more in the dating world. Researchers found that 53 percent of men and women are willing to go on a second date with someone, even if they felt no romantic chemistry with them on date number one. When asked why, 50 percent of singles said that they felt a person may ‘grow’ on them if they were given another opportunity to get to know them.”
Only time will tell…
“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.” ― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms