It goes without saying that dating can be quite a challenge. Especially if you’re new to it. The social pressures of what to wear, what to do and how to act can all contribute to pre-date anxiety that’s so crippling that you consider cancelling the date at least once every 30 minutes in the days running up to it. Whether you’ve just come out of a long-term relationship, have never dated before in your life, or just need a bit of a helping hand – if you follow our dating for dummies tips, then you won’t go far wrong.
Decide on a place beforehand
It’s all well and good meeting at a tube or train station in a mutual area, but discuss the venue of your date beforehand. This way, you can avoid the awkward to-and-fro’ing which consist of ‘I don’t mind where we go”, “me neither”, “where do you want to go?” and “I don’t know”. It’s always easier to make this decision ahead of time and, if you happen to be running a bit early or it’s raining, then you can simply wait for your date inside the venue. Also, dating safety 101: if this is your first date and you met online, pick a public place to meet. You never know when you might need to make a quick exit!
Make an effort with your appearance
Do you show up to your date looking casual in jeans? Smart casual? Dressed up to the nines in a glam dress? The decision of what to wear on your date is a common conundrum that we all struggle with. The best piece of advice we can give you is to dress for the occasion. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t wear high heels if they’re taking you on an activity-based date, such as paintballing. If you’re going for pub drinks, jeans and a nice top is always a winner. As is a dress if you’re heading to a fine dining restaurant. Your date will be able to notice that you’ve made an effort and you are likely to feel more confident, as a result.
Have conversation topics in mind
Sometimes dates involve unavoidable awkward silences – especially first dates. Whether you met online or in a crowded bar on a Saturday night in your hometown, you both like the sound of each other in messages, but you don’t really know each other at this stage. Until you learn of your date’s hobbies, interests and background – and what they’re like in person – you might not know exactly what to say to them. There’s only so much small talk a human being can handle, before wanting to claw out their own eyes in frustration.
Okay, we might be slightly exaggerating here, but why not think of a few conversation starters ahead of time? This way, if you get flustered, you can simply tap into the conversation topics as and when they are needed. A few good subjects that always get people talking are their career aspirations, their family, if they have ever had any pets and what they like to do outside of work.
So you liked them the first time you met; however, when you saw them the next time, it was a bit awkward. Maybe the conversation didn’t quite flow, or they did something to put you off, like chew with their mouth open. But you really liked them the first time, they’ve been messaging you, and they’re really keen to see you again. You’re in two minds about them, so what are you supposed to do?
Our advice is to be open-minded. A lot of singletons nowadays are so quick to shoot down a romantic prospect, just because something about them isn’t quite as great as they were hoping for. You must remember that we’re all human beings at the end of the day, and nobody is perfect. Why not give your date another chance? You never know, they might just end up being the one you’ve been waiting for.
Expect them to pay the bill
There’s nothing ruder than just assuming your date will pay the bill. It’s true that a lot of people are quite traditional and expect them to pay – especially if they’re male and it’s the first date – but you should always offer to pay your dues whether this is the food you’ve eaten, or your cinema ticket. Nine times out of ten, your date will refuse your offer and end up paying for your first date – particularly if they’re male – but you should always take your purse with you just in case they don’t. This is the 21st century and we are strong, independent women – it’s not the end of the world if you have to cough up a few quid. It’s the price you pay for having a good time!
Talk about past relationships
Unless they ask, of course. This is more of a rule for the first couple of dates, when you are still relatively new to each other. If you bring up your ex so early on, your date might assume you’re not over them. It’s best to keep the deep stuff to yourself until the right opportunity presents itself. This is usually later on in the dating game.
Come on too strong
Don’t talk about past relationships, but also don’t be too forward too quickly. Too forward constitutes as telling your date you want to get married and have two kids, and you want it all in the next couple of years. Or letting your date know the first time you’ve ever met them that you can see yourself falling for them. The trick is to forget the past, avoid discussing the future, and stay in the present. At least for the first few dates.
Bombard them with post-date messages
Sure, you had a lovely time on your date. You fancy them and you want to see them again. But it’s best to be a little bit coy about this information. Unless they mention it sooner, try to drop the hint at the very end of your date when you’re saying goodbye. You could say something as simple as “well, this has been great – we should do it again sometime”. It comes across as casual but gets the point across. Or, you could just say “it’s been so nice to meet you” at the end of your date if you’re feeling shy. Then text them a bit later with something like “thanks for such a great time – we should meet again soon”. Of course, the message needs to get across somehow so it’s better to be direct. Otherwise you risk never seeing them again.
However, there’s trying to get the message across and then there’s just being way too eager. If they like you as much as you like them, then they will respond to your hints or texts. If they don’t, then they won’t say anything back or won’t text you back. It’s so tempting to text them again and again until you get a reply, but please refrain from doing this. It will only push them further away. Instead, take a step back. If they’ve been busy and kept meaning to text you, you will hear from them soon enough. If not, then it sounds like you’ve been ghosted but – not to worry – there’s plenty more fish in the sea!
Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to act on a date; it’s all subjective. You just have to go with the flow when you’re in the situation and let it all come naturally. However, if you follow dating for dummies tips, then you’re sure to upgrade from dating “dummy” to dating “pro” in no time!