Surviving that first date

5 tips for jumping back into the dating pool

Editor’s Note: Today marks the debut of our new relationship columnist, Nancy Plummer. Plummer, who operates a dating consulting business in Chester County, has been published in various local and national publications.

By Nancy Plummer, Columnist, The Times

NancyPlummerLogoFirst dates are universally terrifying.

When someone pictures an upcoming date, they usually imagine a scene plucked out of a storybook; the perfect wine, the perfect night, and the perfect partner. However, the reality usually has more in common with a sit-com than a romance novel.

Just the other day, I had a female and male client both complain to me about their terrible first dates.

My male client’s date showed up 45 minutes late, didn’t even bother to apologize and instead felt justified in her lateness as she hadn’t been able to find one of the earrings that matched her outfit. She then went on to tell a dreadfully boring story about her dear friend who had given her those special earrings. And that was the best part of the date!

My female client’s date arrived chewing gum, and constantly talked with his mouth full. He also ordered multiple alcoholic drinks, got visibly drunker, and talked only of himself the entire night, no questions or comments about my client or any person other than his ex-wife.

Although there’s obviously no formula to ensure a perfect first date, I have five simple guidelines I always remind my clients to keep in mind:

(1) Arrive on-time. Yes, it was Woody Allen who said, “Showing up is 80% of life”. Imagine arriving late for a business meeting with a new client. You can’t. You wouldn’t think of it because it’s disrespectful. It works the same way for a first date. The first rule is to be on time.

(2) Be appropriately dressed. Do take into account where you’re going when you select your first date outfit. If your first date is afternoon coffee, wear a nice version of your everyday outfit, not an evening gown. If you’ll be going for a hike, wear appropriate shoes. However, if your first date is for dinner or drinks, do aim to be impeccably dressed. If you’re a man wear a form fitting suit, shower beforehand, and hold-back on the cologne. If you’re a woman, look feminine and wear a dress.

(3) Be an empathetic dater. You shouldn’t just be thinking about yourself during the date – e.g. how you’re coming off or if you look good. Instead, even if you know in the first five minutes that your date isn’t “the one,” aim to ensure your date feels better about his or her self by the end of the night. Also, be polite (consider the date as a great “practice” date) and give your date honest compliments, such as “I really admire your difficult decision to strike out on your own” or “I’m impressed that you stepped up to take care of your mother when she needed you”. This shows not only that you’re listening to your date, it also gives them the confidence to continue opening up to you.  Studies show that the more specific the compliment, the more it’s appreciated by the recipient. One note of warning, do make sure that all your compliments are tasteful. Just because it’s more specific to say “I love how that dress hugs your ass” doesn’t mean you should say that instead of the more generic “you look beautiful in that dress”. Also, do keep your compliments fixed on your date and don’t mention the attractiveness of anyone else.

(4) Be a great conversationalist. Don’t completely monopolize the talk, but don’t reply with one word responses either. Remember that this is a conversation between two people so you’re responsible for half of the dialogue. As with everything else in life, preparation is the most vital component. If you found your date online, you’ve got more than enough information to get started. Travel questions are always a fun icebreaker but be sure to have a funny (and quick) travel story of your own to share. As a follow-up, look up your date’s favorite book or movie and if you’ve never heard of it, do a quick Wikipedia search to get the basics so you can ask more detailed question such as, “is that your favorite genre?”. Another thing to keep in mind, this is just a first date, so keep the conversation positive! Nothing is worse than a date who can only talk about their troubled children, bitter divorce, or terrible job. Keep it fun!

(5) Don’t drink too much.  Simple –two drink maximum.

Keep these five simple guidelines in mind the next time you go out on a date and you’ll be that much closer to your storybook ending.

Nancy Plummer is the President and Founder of All About Connecting – a Personal Dating, Matchmaker and Relationship Coaching service.

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