Field tested tips on setting the scene for that first date I’m Mary Balfour and my job is to help people fall in love! It can be quite tough out there for singles seeking a soul-mate in our crazy disconnected world. A lottery with few winners – as I know from my own personal experience. Quite different to the old days when your family and community lost no time in getting you matched and hitched.
For 26 years now I’ve been helping singles find the solution to this dilemma through Drawing Down the Moon, which was the UK’s first personal dating agency. Also, with my Smart Dating book, videos, coaching, seminars and my internet site – www.grownupdating.com.
I’m often asked about the best way to approach that all-important first date. A first date, whether you’re 18 or 80, can be a bit intimidating, especially if you haven’t dated for a while.
Yes, you can organise the lead up to the date and the date itself in such a way that it’s more likely to go well and follow through. Two people who are an ideal match may meet up and get absolutely nowhere. If they were to handle the situation differently, however, the same couple may well fall for each other and go on to build a relationship together.
The goal of a first date should only be to decide if he’s a “maybe” or “no-hoper”. Don’t, please don’t, decide not to see a guy again because you think he’s “just friendship material” and there was “no chemistry”. First dates are a bit of a “test” and it’s difficult to be relaxed and natural – both essential pre-requisites to flirting and chemistry. So, always try and get a second date arranged with the “maybes” and see lots of guys – creating a sort of dating ripple effect, what I call my domino dating strategy. Research shows that the spark is most likely to ignite further down the line when you’re both engaged in doing something a bit different, a tad crazy or indeed adventurous.
Smart phone tactics
If you’ve been introduced through an introduction agency, a personal ad or on-line your first conversation may not be face to face but on the phone to arrange a time and venue.
Keep the call short, never more than five minutes and keep it light. Trying too hard to get to know one another over the phone before you meet means that all your valuable small-talk, which you’ll badly need to break the ice on the date itself, will be used up. It can also come across as interrogation. Wait until you meet because then you’ll be more spontaneous – with plenty of topics to talk about.
Whenever I hear that a couple’s first phone conversation lasted half the night (and this does happen), my heart sinks. The enthusiasm and euphoria of having encountered a kindred spirit builds up such huge expectations that the physical meeting is invariably a let-down.
For how long should you meet?
Be clear beforehand that you can’t meet for long – say, a maximum of 90 minutes. Then, if you’re panting to get away, there’s no embarrassment because your date already knows that you won’t be staying long. ‘I promised to drop by and see my sister’ or ‘I’ve got to e-mail the copy to my paper by eleven’ should do the trick. If you don’t fix the duration before you meet then it will be difficult to cut it short during the date, without seeming rude, if he proves to be of no interest. Even if it’s going well, it’s still wise not to meet for long. That way, you’ll still have some easy conversation left for next time.
An effective way of dispelling nerves is to admit to them! Own up straight away: ‘I felt a bit scared on my way here to meet you!’ and your partner will thankfully admit ‘So did I!’ You’ll both laugh and any tension will be defused. It works. Try it.
Be mischievous and flirty
Just remember that a date should be fun, upbeat and light-hearted – no matter what he’s like. Jokey, teasing, mischievous, original and outrageous are all great. The art of flirting lies in being playful, curious and making your date and yourself feel just wonderful. However, don’t be too eager, so your date feels there is some of the thrill in the chase.
Subjects to avoid discussing on a first date
A first date is much too early to start talking about either your life goals or your emotional history. Be warned: you tackle such emotionally sensitive issues this early on at your peril!
You can’t take short cuts in the process of getting to know someone. Talking about anything emotionally intimate, such as why you broke up with the ex, is fatal. Any un-addressed resentment or other unfinished business will be apparent to your date. Remember, too, that men and women often have different timetables for dealing with intense or painful matters.
What if your date starts to interrogate you about lots of personal details that you don’t feel ready to discuss? Try responding with ‘Pass on that one for now’ or ‘Ask me in a few weeks’. Providing you say this firmly and with good humour, they should get the message.
Finishing a date – when you want to see him again
You’ve enjoyed yourself . . . a couple of drinks . . . some small-talk to break the ice . . . and then chatting and flirting in a relaxed manner. You’ve decided that you’d like to see him again. In which case, it’s time to part while you’ve still got lots more to discover about one another. A good phrase to use if you want to see him again is “shall we give each other a ring in a week or two” – this gives you “permission” to ring him if he’s a bit tardy following through.
For heaps of tips about how to create dating opportunities get a copy of my book: Smart Dating: how to find your man. To view some of my short dating tips videos go to www.YouTube.com/datingsuccess And for completely free and intelligent internet dating try www.grownupdating.com – this is a good option for FabAfterFifty women as older men more often opt for the internet whereas women will make a bee-line to the personal dating agencies to meet interviewed and ID checked guys who can be in short supply. If you are seeking bespoke personal dating – do visit www.drawingdownthemoon.co.uk or call 020 7224 1001 to see if we may be able to help you at Drawing Down the Moon
Happy hunting and good luck!