Going on a date can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s the first date with a man you’ve never met before.
But a few pre-date butterflies are a great thing.
Because it shows you care about how your date goes, and it shows you’re human!
Messaging someone online or on a dating app is different from having a video call with them via Zoom or meeting them in person. You can’t predict how things will go, if the chemistry will be there, or if the conversation will flow naturally without any awkward pauses.
Certain things will always be out of your control. But the great news is, there’s a lot you can control, and I’ve got plenty of pointers to set you up for dating success.
Here are 21 winning tips to use when you’re going on a date.
Follow these, and not only will your dating confidence improve—but your self-confidence will also soar.
1. Practice self-compassion
I’m not going to lie to you ladies; dating and relationships can be challenging, sometimes even painful.
But you know what usually causes us the most pain?
The way we internalize the experiences we have around dating.
So instead of blaming yourself, criticizing, or judging, accept that bad dates happen. They’re not a direct reflection of you. And we know we can have unpleasant dating experiences, which also means we can have amazing ones. Focus on that.
What if you’re going on a date tonight that will transform your life and end up being the last first date you ever have?
Show yourself more kindness and compassion. Allow yourself to hope for a great date with an amazing man.
2. Look at dating as an adventure
Yes, you’ll be nervous. But going on a date should be fun. And if it’s not something you’re looking forward to, then we need to fix that.
If you’ve just come out of a serious relationship, and you don’t feel like going on a date yet, that’s completely understandable. Give yourself the time you need. But if it’s fear or nerves holding you back, maybe you need to give yourself a gentle nudge and force yourself to go on a date.
Think about what you’ll gain from it. You’ll get to get dressed up and show off a new outfit, discover a new spot in town, get to know someone you’re attracted to, and learn about yourself too.
Try and walk into a date with a new man with no goal other than to enjoy getting to know someone new and enjoying yourself. Even if you never see him again, if you had a great time, then you didn’t waste your time.
3. Going on a date: Make sure you look and feel good
When you feel confident on the inside, you’ll look more confident on the outside. And men love confident women.
So make sure you look your best. Wear something that flatters your figure, helps you feel sexy, but is also comfortable. For example, if you never wear heels, don’t bother with them for a date.
And don’t try and be someone you’re not. Labels and trends don’t matter. Wear clothes that reflect your personality and are true to your unique style. And always opt for a matching set of lingerie underneath—nobody will see it, but you’ll feel like a Goddess.
4. Call a friend for a pre-date pep talk
If you find you get nervous or anxious before a date, try calling a friend for a pre-date pep talk.
Choose a friend who always knows exactly what to say in these moments to boost your confidence and remind you that any man would be lucky to date you because that’s the truth.
A few positive words of encouragement will help you walk into your date with confidence.
5. Play to your strengths
Many of us want to impress our date so badly that we pretend we’re someone we think they’ll be attracted to. But this is a mistake. You want this guy to like you for who you really are, and if he doesn’t, then he’s not right for you. And a relationship built on lies is never going to last.
So play to your unique strengths and gifts. Voice your opinions. Be authentic. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who isn’t afraid to show the world her true colors.
6. Know your worth
If you’ve never written a list of all the things you love about yourself, now is a great time to do just that. Next, read it back to yourself. Remind yourself of all your wonderful qualities and everything you have to offer someone in a relationship.
Knowing your worth is part of step one of our Little Love Steps. When you know your worth, you value yourself and can recognize what you bring to the table. This allows you to position yourself as a high-value woman on a date and attract a high-quality man.
7. Keep it low-key
A brilliant way to ease the pressure of going on a date is to keep things casual. An extravagant or lengthy date doesn’t automatically equal a great one.
Plus, when you keep things low-key, there’s less distraction. You can both focus on each other and get a clear sense of your connection.
There are plenty of fun things to do on a first date that don’t involve a champagne fountain, flying doves, or a string quartet!
8. Go somewhere where you can talk
I will never understand why people decide to go on a first date to the cinema. You can’t see each other, you can’t talk, and you spend two hours sitting in the darkness watching a screen.
If you’re going on a first date, you must choose an activity that allows you to chat and get to know each other. This is what dating is all about.
That means noisy bars and clubs are out too. Meeting up for a coffee in a chilled cafe or a quieter bar is a good idea. If the weather’s good, you could treat yourself to ice cream and head to a park. Get creative and think outside the box.
9. Meet in a public place
I’m sure you’re already dating with caution and don’t need a reminder, but I think it’s essential to mention staying safe.
When you’re meeting up with a stranger or someone you still don’t know very well, always choose a public place for your date. Most people are good, but you can never be too careful.
Tell someone you trust where you’re going ahead of time, and don’t feel pressured to go anywhere or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
10. Are you going on a virtual date? Make it exciting
Virtual dates can still be enjoyable, so if you’ve got one coming up, here are a few ideas for you.
You could choose to both make a cocktail together, then slowly sip it (pace yourself!) as you get to know each other.
If you’re into cooking, you could even cook a simple meal together, and see who’s the better chef. Keep asking each other questions and talking while you’re prepping.
To create a romantic vibe, make sure you still get dressed up and light some candles wherever you’re sitting.
11. Be present in the moment
Hopefully, when you’re actually on the date, you’ll feel a little more relaxed as time goes on and you get comfortable with each other. But if you’re looking to make a genuine connection, focus on being fully present in the moment.
What do I mean by that?
Put your phone away. Stop over-thinking things or allowing yourself to be distracted by your own self-conscious thoughts. Forget whatever is going on around you. Be focused on your date.
If he goes to the bathroom and you end up on your own for a while, refuse the urge to pick up your phone. Just enjoy being on your date. Everything else can wait.
12. Don’t drink too much
Sometimes having your favorite drink to calm your nerves can help you relax. But know your limits, and avoid getting drunk—especially if this is the first date.
This will show him that you’re a classy woman who knows her limits and isn’t just looking to party. It will also help you avoid that awkward moment when you fall off your chair or throw up on his shoes in the street.
On average, one drink per hour is generally a safe bet. Try not to have more than two drinks throughout the date. If you want to know what your unique limit is, use an online blood alcohol content calculator.
On a side note—always watch your glass. Bring it with you if you need to go to the ladies, or finish it before you go. Drink spiking does happen, and you can never be too careful.
13. Think about what your body is saying
We can say a lot without even opening our mouths. Next time you’re going on a date, pay attention to what your body is doing.
If you feel nervous or shy, this can often translate subconsciously in your body. For example, you might fold your arms, avoid eye contact, or sit far away from your date. The problem is, these are subtle cues that he will pick up on and will make him think you’re not interested in him.
When in doubt, remember the word STEP:
Smile – smiling is good, so if you’re enjoying yourself or he’s making you laugh, smile.
Touch – touching your hair or face will draw his attention to you and help you signal to him you’re attracted to him.
Eye contact – this isn’t a staring competition, but look at him frequently throughout your conversation.
Posture – sitting up will help you appear more confident, and if you’re interested in him, lean in.
14. Make sure the conversation is a two-way street
When you’re going on a date, getting the balance in conversation can be tricky. It’s important to talk about yourself, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re asking lots of questions and listening too.
If one of you dominates the conversation, it will leave the other person feeling deflated or frustrated, and you won’t create a genuine connection.
Men love it when they feel like they’re being listened to and that someone is genuinely interested in what they have to say. Of course we do, and you ladies love that too. We all do.
If you’re unsure where to start the conversation, ask about his work, and actively listen to what he says. Be considerate and thoughtful when responding. Don’t try and find out their entire life history on date number one, but try and get a good sense of who they are.
“First dates aren’t the time to find out the person’s entire life history, but you can get a good idea of what they might want in the future. Don’t get hung up on small things and keep the big picture in mind. You can always decline the next date if you don’t sense any chemistry.”
—Alisha Powell, couples therapist.
15. Avoid mentioning exes
Bringing up your ex on a first date is a red flag that you’re not over them. Avoid mentioning exes unless he brings it up. And if he does, pay close attention to what he says. If he’s trash-talking or blaming his ex or can’t stop talking about her, he’s probably not over it yet.
This date is about the two of you getting to know each other. You both have a past, but there’s plenty of time to talk about that serious stuff on future dates. Keep it light and fun.
16. Trust your intuition
Your intuition as a woman is a superpower. Both men and women have it, but for women, it’s super-charged and an underutilized strength.
We’ve all had an experience where we didn’t listen to our gut feeling and ended up realizing we should have.
Throughout the date, keep checking in with yourself and how you feel. If something feels off about this guy to you, trust and follow that feeling. Don’t ignore those hunches or even minor red flags.
17. Going on a date: Be playful
Did you know research has shown using humor in conversations can make you seem more likable? Plus, telling jokes can help calm you both and put you at ease.
Laughing feels good, so don’t be afraid to make a joke, tease him, or go for some playful banter. You probably don’t know each other’s personal humor preference yet, so play it safe and don’t say anything too outrageous.
Being able to make a joke shows you’re intelligent, able to have fun, and confident. All of these things are undeniably attractive.
18. Make him feel good when he’s with you
Let me tell you a secret. A man falls for a woman because of how she makes him feel about himself when he’s with her.
When you’re going on a date, it’s not so much about you but more about how he feels around you. He wants to feel like a hero to you, he wants to protect you, and he wants to feel appreciated and desired.
If you make him feel this way, he’s way more likely to want to see you again and view you as girlfriend material.
19. Be willing to be open and a little bit vulnerable
When it comes to a first date, you don’t want to ask overly invasive questions because this will be too much too soon. But you also don’t want to linger on small talk; otherwise, you’ll leave the date not knowing much about each other.
Start with the neutral territory and basic questions, and gradually build the intimacy. Be willing to be a little vulnerable on your date, and ask (and answer) some more profound, soul-searching questions.
A date is your opportunity to see if you have anything in common and whether you want to spend more time with them. So ask questions that help you figure this out.
For example, ask him what his perfect day looks like. If marriage is something you see in your future, ask him if he sees marriage in his. If you’re misaligned on big things like this, chances are it’s not a good match.
20. Respect your boundaries
When going on a date, always remember to respect your boundaries (and his too). Do whatever you need to do to ensure you feel safe and at ease.
If you feel pressured to cross those boundaries or feel uncomfortable in any way, this is another red flag. The man you’re with should respect you and your boundaries and want to make you feel safe and comfortable in every way he possibly can—any guy who doesn’t is a jerk and not worth your time.
21. If you like him, break the touch barrier
Why are you ladies always waiting for us to make the first move?!
Here’s the deal. If you’re on a date and you’re feeling it, instead of waiting for a guy to make the first move, do it yourself. Lightly brush his arm, hold his hand, or place your hand softly on his chest.
Give him a subtle signal that you’re into him or want him to kiss you before the date is over.
22. Don’t count him out just because there’s no initial “spark”
Too many women (and men) go on a first date, have a nice time, but don’t make it to date number two because there’s no “spark.”
A survey found that only 53% of men and women are willing to go on a second date if they didn’t feel that chemistry on the first one. But this is a mistake. It doesn’t need to be love at first sight.
That spark you’re searching for can grow over time. If you feel comfortable with someone and share things in common, always go on a second date.
23. Always offer to split the bill at the end
Money can be an awkward topic with couples who have been together for years, let alone two people who have just met.
My advice would always be to offer to split the bill with him at the end. Men appreciate this gesture. But if he’s adamant about paying, then let him. Don’t block yourself from receiving. And if you’ve planned a second date, tell him you’ll get the next one.
24. If you’re looking for something serious, don’t go back to his place
Some people who have had sex on the first date end up in long term relationships together. But this is usually the exception to the rule.
If you’re looking for something serious with this guy, my advice would be to hold off on sex for at least a few more dates. It makes him work harder for you and allows the anticipation and excitement to build with each date.
Those are my top tips for going on a date
Remember, dating should be fun and something you look forward to doing. It’s normal to be nervous, but don’t let those pre-date jitters stop you from having a great date.
Follow the tips above, and you’ll begin to approach dating differently. You’ll worry less about yourself and focus more on the guy with you and whether he’s a good match for you. This is what dating is all about, and this is key if you want to find a long-lasting relationship with someone special.