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What to Do on a First Date to Get to a Second

A couple who learned what to do on a first date, leaning in and talking to each other on a dock by a lake.

Usually, on a first date, we’re trying so hard to make a good impression, that we’re not even thinking about anything other than the moment we’re in. And that’s ok. But if you’re on a first date and having a great time with this person, and you know you want to see them again, its useful to know what to do on a first date to all but guarantee yourself a second one.

Here’s what to do on a first date

Be playful
It’s totally normal and understandable to be nervous on a first date. You don’t know this person, and you have no idea how this is going to play out. But that doesn’t mean you need to act like you’re on a job interview.

It’s so important to be playful when you first meet someone, and not take yourself or life too seriously. So don’t over do it with probing questions—there’s plenty of time to still get to know each other. The aim is for this to be an open conversation, not an inquest. Let things flow, and see what happens.

You might think it’s important to get all your serious questions answered straight away, so you know if this person is serious about wanting a long term relationship instead of a hook up, but even if they answer exactly the way you want them to, you still can’t know who they really are after one date.

Talk about something meaningful.
First dates can become repetitive and boring if you’re not consciously talking about interesting and exciting things. Questions like, “what do you do?” and “where are you from?” will only take you so far, and they won’t help you to get to know someone’s personality.

Don’t be afraid to share something personal (within reason), and be vulnerable on the first date, or discuss something close to your heart. Take a risk, see what happens, and where things lead.

Be confident.
This is perhaps the single most important part of knowing what to do on a first date. Even if you don’t feel confident, you need to act like you’re a confident person. The more you do this, the more you’ll actually become confident. Men and women are both attracted to confident people who feel good about themselves and know their worth.

Give yourself a pep talk before the date, make sure you make an effort to look and feel your best, and remind yourself of all the reasons why you’re awesome—because you are.

Pay attention to your body language.
When you’re nervous, you might end up talking really fast, or crossing your arms, and doing things with your face or body that are signaling to your date you’re not interested.

There are a few key things to remember: Smile a lot. Lean forward when your date is talking. Make eye contact. Make sure your body is open to them (so avoid folding your arms or crossing your legs) and facing them.

Don’t get (too) drunk.
You can plan what to do on a first date meticulously, but if you get too drunk it’ll be for nothing. A drink or two might be really good to calm your nerves and help the conversation flow more naturally on the first date, but you want to make sure you don’t get drunk. If you’re a woman, you need to make sure you’re thinking about your safety, because you really don’t know this guy is a nice guy yet. And for both men and women, you don’t want to get so drunk you sound, er, well… like a drunk. Being tipsy is one thing, being sloppy is another.

So know your limits, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in between your drinks. Politely decline if they want to get another found and you know it’s going to push you over the edge.

Be yourself.
There are probably a ton of articles out there trying to tell you who you need to be in order to have a successful first date, but that’s bullshit. All you need to be is yourself. Because when you are, you’ll naturally attract the right person, who values your qualities and quirks.

If you try to impress someone by pretending to be who you think they want you to be, you’ll only end up having to wear a mask in your relationship, which is eventually going to slip off. And who knows what this person is looking for anyway? So always be yourself, and stay true to who you are.

Anticipate a second date.
As they say, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. So if you go into this date believing you’re going to get a second one, you’re halfway there.

This way, you’ll refrain from blurting out everything you want to know about this person and going a hundred miles an hour, because you assume you’re going to have another opportunity to chat. This will also help you show up more, be present in the moment, and actually listen to what your date is saying.

Read how the date is going.
You don’t know this person, so you don’t know how they’re going to respond to the conversation that comes up, or how they might behave. If ever you feel like your date is feeling uncomfortable, or disinterested, change the topic.

Likewise, if they seem to be having a great time, tell them you are too. There’s no point in playing it cool and coming off as though you don’t care when deep down you really do. If you’ve only met up for a coffee, you might even want to continue the conversation over a drink or a bite to eat—but pay attention to the subtle signals you’re getting, as well as your gut instinct.

Talk about the future.
This doesn’t mean weddings and kids. If those topics naturally come up, great, but by the future, I mean the two of you spending more time together.

This depends on what comes up on the first date, but if you have shared interests like a band or a type of food, you might make plans to share something like that sometime soon. There’s no rule that says you have to wait until after the first date to plan the second one—but don’t force it if it doesn’t happen naturally.

Let them know you’re interested.
If you haven’t already let your date know you like them by the end of it, make sure you do before you part ways. Give them a hug, or a kiss on the cheek, and tell them you had a great time and would love to see them again.

Don’t wait too long to follow up.
Forget that stupid three day rule. Nobody does that anymore unless they’re intentionally playing games. Text them or call them that evening and say you had a great time, and thank them for joining you. Suggest another time to meet within the next week, and tell them you’re looking forward to it. Leave it too long, and you might find someone else has beaten you to it.

First dates can be nerve wracking, but they can also be incredibly fun and exciting. If you’re feeling the good vibes and are already excited about seeing this person again, great! Keep these tips in mind and see where things go.

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