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10 Tips On Planning and Surviving Your Next Online First Date

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You read my last article about writing the perfect online dating profile, you contacted a few people you seem to click with (based on their online dating profile), and you agreed to meet for a date. If you think it’s difficult condensing your shining personality in an online profile, the true challenge has just begun: meeting them on the nerve-wracking first date. Don’t worry—you’ll get through it with these 10 simple steps:

1. Set the date for the middle of the week.
A Friday or Saturday for your first meeting? No way—a mid-week date takes a lot of pressure off everyone. Technically, you’re going on a date, but it’s not a date-date. This is merely a jumping off point to help determine whether or not the physical chemistry is there (and let’s be honest, the chemistry is really going to determine if things will move forward to a proper date). Plus, having to work the next day gives you a great out if you two don’t hit it off.

2. Plan for drinks, not dinner.
Meeting someone from a dating site for the first time should be as low stress for both parties as possible. Dinner is a big commitment for a first date and it’s reserved for someone you’ve already met and you already “click” with. On the other hand, meeting for drinks (coffee or cocktails) is a lot less formal, yet still holds an air of sophistication. It also means you won’t be obligated to spend too much time with the person, and if things aren’t working out, you can end this initial meeting after the first round of drinks.

3. Schedule other dates throughout the week.
This is an advanced tip, but if you can, schedule a couple more dates with different people you met online. By doing this, you’ll unconsciously allow yourself to relax and not put all your mental eggs into one basket. Focusing on one first date all week will do nothing, but add unnecessary pressure to you leading up to the big night.

4. Pick a neutral location for the first meeting.
Pick a spot outside both your normal comfort zones (you’ll have communicated enough with this person or you to figure out their regular haunts). This new setting will give the first date a fresh perspective to both of you and open both of you up to new experiences. Plus, there’s security in a potential stalker not knowing where you normally hang out.

5. Pick seats at the bar, not a table.
This is a controversial tip (modern convention dictates a romantic table in a darkened corner of a café), but go for two stools at the bar. Sitting directly across from someone can feel like a job interview, plus that table can act subconsciously as a barrier. Sitting at a bar is informal, disarming, and with closer proximity, makes it easier to pick up on if the person likes you; physical touch is generally a good indicator they do.

6. Turn off your phone.
This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people can’t go five minutes without the warming glow of their smartphone’s touchscreen. It’s simple: be courteous to a person who has agreed to meet you. Your iPhone is nothing more than a security blanket. If you can’t be present during a first date, when will you ever be? Plus, you don’t want your date to watch you check thousands of online dating push notifications all night long.

7. Use the wait staff to evaluate your date’s personality.
Sure they may be on their best behavior with you—after all, this is your first meeting, but how do they act toward the bartender, valet, or maître d? How nice someone acts toward strangers will speak volumes on their character. Do not underestimate this tip.

8. Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum.
A drink or two can help reduce nerves and inhibitions, but the last thing you want to do is get drunk—there’s nothing that’ll send off the red flag warning more than getting trashed on a first date. You’re going to be nervous and you may find yourself in awkward moments of silence—the tendency is to reach for that drink. Before that happens, request a glass of water with your cocktail and reach for that instead. Hydration is a good thing (as is a small meal before you plan on drinking).

9. Ladies, offer to pick up the tab.
It shows you’re considerate and you’re not just in the online dating game for free drinks and a funny story to share on Facebook later that night. If he doesn’t automatically reach for the bill, you probably shouldn’t go out with him again. NOTE: As a general rule, if you move forward, men should pay for 60 to 70 percent of the dates.

10. Guys, walk her to her car.
If your date’s car is parked in a sketchy lot, offer to walk her to her car. This is just common courtesy. Girls really aren’t into walking strange parking lots or structures by themselves at night. You being around will give her the sense of a little extra security—that’s points for you, my man. Plus this gives you an extra five minutes to feel her out for the possibility of a second proper date.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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