7 Tips for a Great First Tinder Date

A couple on a first Tinder date, looking at each other in the eyes, about to kiss.

Just because the app is simple, doesn’t mean dating on Tinder is easy. It’s still dating after all, which means you still have to go through all the awkward motions associated with a first date. The nerves, the anticipation, the odd hellos, the stress over whether you should hug or shake hands, sit at the bar or a booth, kiss goodnight or part ways with a wave… It’s all still there. 

But like all dating, there are things you can do to make things easier on yourself and prepare for the date.

If you’ve met a great match and are ready to take it off the app and into real life, here are seven tips to help you have a great first Tinder date: 

1. Breathe deeply and think deeply.
When we stress out, our bodies react instinctually. When we ease the physical tension associated with stress, the stress itself eases too. Often times, anxiety can cause physical discomfort in your chest from shallow breathing. To counteract this, try taking deep breaths through your nose, into your stomach, and out of your mouth. Put your hands on your stomach and feel it expand as you take in the air. Do this for 10 minutes before heading out and you’re almost certainly going to feel better for it.

Now, run through the date in your head. Visualize each part: the meeting, the conversation, their body language, your body language, what could go wrong. Visualization helps your mind be at ease with all possible outcomes, most of which probably land in the neutral or positive category anyway. Anxiety is often rooted in uncertainty and the fear that the worst possible outcome will come true, even if it rarely does. Walking through your fears in your head will help you make peace with them.

2. Clean up nice and dress to impress.
Nothing gets you amped for a date like a nice shower and a shine. First impressions are important, so you’ll want to make sure you make the right one. Feeling attractive is the most important part of being attractive, so make sure you pick out an outfit you feel strong and comfortable in. If you have wrinkles in your shirt, iron them out. If your jeans are a little dirty, go for a clean pair this time. When you put time and effort into your appearance, it shows your date that you’re putting time and effort into them and the experience. It’s one small way to show you care.  

3. Pick somewhere fun.
Once again, first impressions are everything. Everybody wants to date someone who’s fun, so pick a place that will give that impression. Tiki bars, restaurants with bands, or sunny day picnics, are all good for this. If a date spot allows for movement, has lots of people around, or has a novelty that will allow for built in conversation, chances are you’ve got a good date idea on your hands.

4. Revisit your online conversation(s).
If you’re on Tinder, you’re probably talking to multiple people at a time. It’s safe to assume that your date is, too. There’s no shame in it, but there is shame when you can’t remember which conversation you had with your date or worse you confuse them with somebody else. There are ways to salvage a conversation, but if you think you had a connection with them about a certain topic and it turns out that was from your date last week, it’s not a great look. So before you step out to meet your possible future lover, double-check the conversation and, oh yeah, their name.

5. Show up fashionably early.
Showing up early is underrated. It’s good to show up early for a few reasons. One, it ensures you’re not late. This should be a no-brainer, but it isn’t for most people. Punctuality is a virtue, and it plain sucks to wait alone. You’re not fostering any fuzzy feelings by showing up late. Two, it gives you time to get acclimated to the environment. If you’re meeting in a cocktail lounge or a fair, arriving early gives your social sense some time to wake up to being around people. Start chatting around and warm up those vocal chords by chatting with some strangers. Third, you can tell your date where exactly you’ll be when they do show up, so you don’t have to crane your neck around hoping you’re finding the right person. Be ahead of the curve and the clock to assure things go smoothly.

6. Remember there’s nothing at stake.
The worst thing that can happen in any date scenario is that the other person tells you they don’t want to see you again. (Or maybe they tell you they do want to see you again and ghost anyway). Even if they don’t like you, it’s not a total wash—you’ve figured out that they weren’t meant for you. It takes time to find the right person, and this date helped you get one person closer to them.

7. Have fun.
A lot of people put a lot of pressure on dating. Whether you’re trying to find the love of your life or a friend with benefits, you should take it seriously right? Well, probably, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be a lot fun. There’s a reason why people celebrate being single, because it’s loose, unpredictable, and amazing meeting new people. Even if you have relationship goals in mind, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy this part of the journey.

First dates can be nerve-wracking. We’ve all been there, and for a lot of us that’s not going away any time soon. These tips will help, but remember by getting out there you’re already doing the thing that will help you the most. So deep breaths and keep at it!

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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