So, you’ve got the table booked, your best anecdotes prepared, and your shirt ironed and ready. All set then? Not quite. Allow our dating experts to refine your seduction skills for the best date of your life.
1. Rejecting responsibility
The mistake: Letting her organize the first date.
The fallout: “You might think you’re being a gentleman asking what she’d be happy doing, but you’ll just look like a wimp,” says dating coach James Preece. She wants a man who knows how to take control.
What you should do: Plan the date in advance (see no 2), and don’t run it by her. Pick her up or meet her at a place that doesn’t give away where you’re headed. “Women love surprises – and this will make you appear more confident: an extremely attractive trait,” says Preece.
2. A failure of reconnaissance
The mistake: Heading to a steakhouse when she’s a vegetarian, a rock gig when she’s a jazz aficionado, or to watch Black Swan when she prefers her films devoid of psychosexual breakdowns.
The fallout: Since you’re not showing any interest in her taste, you come across as selfish, says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam. “It suggests you’re only concerned with what you want.”
What you should do: Gather info – either from her friends or (subtly) from her – about what kind of food, films or music she’s into. Already had an awkward first encounter watching her wince through a korma? Admit your mistake, apologize, and ask is she’d like to pick the venue for your next date.
3. Appearance apathy
The mistake: Believing that vintage T-shirt and elegantly distressed pair of jeans lend you an air of charming nonchalance.
The fallout: Your attire suggests you’re not that bothered about the date. This will be her first thought upon seeing you and an overriding worry throughout. Not a great start, frankly.
What you should do: Pick an outfit that inspires confidence and adheres to these essential style rules. “Keep it classic and simple. Women are impressed if you take care in your appearance but will be put off if you mention price tags or name-drop designers.” says Elin Davies, image consultant at Style Doctors. Also, before every date: shower, shave, scent. Not that difficult, is it?
The mistake: Checking your mobile, texting, or – worst of all – taking a call.
The fallout: This is, of course, permissible if you’re expecting an emergency call – just make sure you mention it at the start of the date to sidestep any resentment. “An urgent phone call from work, however, won’t cut it on a first or second date,” says Quilliam.
What you should do: Turn your phone off at the start of the date. Not on silent. Not on vibrate. Off. “Telling her you’ve done this so you can focus entirely on her should score you major brownie points,” says Quilliam.
The mistake: She seems really interested, and it’s nice to have a captive audience without being required to talk about new clients or your latest sales pitch. And, really, you actually are an extremely interesting person. No wonder she’s not bored.
The fallout: She’s bored. Horribly, horribly bored. That’s not a twinkle in her eye. That’s a glaze, buddy.
What you should do: In order to temper your natural instinct to impress and wax autobiographical, aim for a 60/40 split, with her talking for the larger chunk of time. “Keep the length of what you say quite short,” advises Quilliam. “Four or five sentences, one anecdote, then ask her a question.” Note: the question shouldn’t be checking she/s realized how awesome you are.
6. The ex factor
The mistake: Raking over the coals of old flames. Perhaps you think talking about past girlfriends makes you seem winningly mature. Perhaps you’re not over her yet and want to vent. Either way: bad move.
The fallout: Despite those sympathetic noises, she doesn’t care. She’s not interested. Also, it’s over now. Something went wrong. There is, no doubt, emotional baggage attached. Talking about it isn’t exactly the ideal way to showcase your most attractive qualities.
What you should do: Keep the conversation as positive and as focused on the future as possible, avoiding any major forays into your romantic past. “Nobody wants to feel they have to compete with an ex,” says Preece – even if she was a sadistic harridan. After all, what does that say about your taste?
7. Keeping things tight
The mistake: She had her purse out in a flash and, well, you are a bit strapped at the moment. Besides, what could be more romantic than going Dutch?
The fallout: Get ready for a thunderbolt revelation. Women don’t always mean what they say. On a first date, you should always – always – insist upon treating her. “Even if she offers, she’ll think of you as cheap,” says Ian Kerner, author of Date Scene Investigation.
What you should do: “Tell her you’re happy to pay and she can do so down the line,” advises Kerner. This advertises your generosity with no danger of appearing overbearing or patronizing.
8. Kiss chase
The mistake: Hovering as you part after having had a great time – head angled, breath minty fresh, lips wetted. Then bottling it.
The fallout: Most probably a hearty dose of bewilderment and disappointment. Did she do something wrong? Did she have something on her face? Did she misread the signs? This, on a loop, is what she’ll be thinking for the rest of the night and most of tomorrow.
What you should do: If you like her, show her – even if it’s a first date. “Sometimes, when a guy meets a woman he thinks is relationship material, he’ll be overly shy – and this sends out confusing signals,” says Kerner. Just kiss the girl, man. What are you waiting for?
9. Short circuit sex
The mistake: It is possible for things to go too well. “Lust needs to blossom into romantic love and sometimes that neurochemical process can be short-circuited by sex that happens too quickly,” says Kerner.
The fallout: She’s liable to be anxious about you judging her and desperate to reassure you that she doesn’t do this with just anyone. This may be true. It may be cobblers. Such awkward considerations are easily avoided by simply holding out for a few dates.
What you should do: Enjoy the thrill of the chase. Don’t complicate a potential great thing by succumbing to base desire immediately. Unless, you know, that’s really the only thing you’re both after…
10. Post-date problems
The mistake: Gleaning your dating etiquette from old sitcoms and films. It’s the 21st century. Leaving it three days to contact her is a thing of the past.
The fallout : Don’t send a text within a couple days and you’re not going to come across as keen, says Quilliam. The sooner you tell her what a great time you had the better.
What you should do: If it went really well, send a text the same evening as the date. The best way to let her down lightly? Send a courteous message the following morning mooting the vague prospect of meeting up in the future.