How to Survive First Dates

Some helpful pointers to help navigate the sea of courtship and get to the plentiful fish. 
Sunday 10 February 2019
Time to start navigating the sea of courtship. Photo: iStock

There’s no need to go overboard in matters of courtship. Take a deep breath and impress your next date with these tips.

Don’t be late

It’s a bad habit really. Being tardy tarnishes a potential good first impression. A study published in the medical journal BMJ stressed that daters should be mindful that they are dealing with a subconscious phenomena, and making a good first impression is critical. Turning up late can often be misconstrued as you don’t care. If this is not a forced-upon date and you’re not under duress to go, show up on time. If you’re really running late due to unforeseen circumstances, drop your date a text, or better yet, call ahead of time.

first date2-iStock - first date
Respect your date’s time and don’t be late. Photo: iStock

Don’t order for your date

You are not being assertive when you do that. Let your date choose, even if it takes gesture. Unless asked, don’t volunteer. If you want them to try a particular dish, then suggest it to them.

Don’t talk about your ex

Let’s be practical, you’re there because you want to move on with your life. Malaysian dating site Lunch Actually CEO Violet Lim says first dates are meant for positive conversations. “Even if the last relationship ended well, talking about your ex, who may be replaced by this potential partner in front of you, is like a comparison between two cars of different models. So, we say, don’t talk about your ex on the first date,” she said.

first date3-iStock - first date
Would you want to listen to someone else go on about their ex? Photo: iStock

It’s not a job interview

As much as some of you are passionate about the work you do and love your job, your date may not be as thrilled about listening to you brag about it endlessly. Sharing some basic details like what you do and who your employers are (if any) is acceptable. Dating etiquette expert Wendy Newman in Wall Street Journal said encouraging the other person to talk about themselves is highly recommended. Also, it should be a known fact that repeatedly telling someone how amazing you are at your job or how much you make will only make you look like a self-absorbed jerk.

Dress appropriately

By this, don’t overdress or underdress. New York University’s Couples Lab found in a study that overdressing can sometimes make the other person feel insecure. Underdressing on the other hand can again make you seem like you’re not bothered about the date.

Don’t force them to stay

Whether or not the date is going well, sometimes people have commitments and they might need to be somewhere else. Respect this. Also, be mindful that they may not necessarily want to continue the evening. Either way, you will find out eventually. For now, let them go. If it’s meant to be, you will meet again.

Go to public places

We have all watched enough television to know that first dates can go wrong. So to minimise the risk, have your date in public places. Somewhere familiar, well lit and possibly crowded. This way, even if your date turns out to be creepy, you’ll know where the nearest exits are.

And let someone know

If you’re going to get into someone’s car, take a picture of the licence plate or where you’re going and send it to someone you trust. Send their selfies too if possible. That’s just a basic safety precaution. DRESS APPROPRIATELY By this, don’t overdress or underdress. New York University’s Couples Lab found in a study that overdressing can sometimes make the other person feel insecure. Underdressing on the other hand can again make you seem like you’re not bothered about the date.

Paying the bill

Violet Lim says that in this day and age, women are not betas. Who gets the bill should be an option. “Of course, a lot of females would like it if the guy offers to pay. It’s also deemed as a gentlemanly. As for the ladies, do not just expect the men to pay, it is always nice to offer to pay for your share,” Lim says. An option would be someone pays for dinner and another pays for drinks, assuming the date goes well.

first date-iStock - first date
Offer to pay for the next activity if the date goes well. Photo: iStock

Offer to pay?

A survey run by the dating app Tinder found that 64% of people on dates found it a non-issue if you didn’t offer to pay. The survey didn’t provide a gender breakdown but should courtesy prevail?

Laugh together

See if your date shares the same sense of humour (which is different from finding a person funny). A recent study done in the University of Kansas found that being able to laugh at the same things may be strongly related to good relationships, so try it and see. The study author thinks that there may be a connection between humour and intelligence too.

Don’t ghost

If there is no spark and no second date, let them know. Don’t ghost them by not answering calls or texts. A study in the BMJ states that romantic rejection may lead to clinically deranged behaviour, including obsession and depression, as well as homicide. To avoid a Fatal Attraction sort of situation, or to not be a total jerk, dating guru Lim says it is best for both to send a message and say thank you for the date. “Be honest and say that you do not feel any connection and that you wish them all the best,” she says.

Related: How To Survive Chinese New Year’s Nosy Questions