10 (actually useful) first date tips: advice from the experts
10 frequently asked first date questions:
1. When should I ask someone out online?
When you meet someone online it can be easy to get caught up in a flurry of messages and to develop strong feelings as a result. However, before you get too swept away, it’s important to test that spark offline. In fact, a study at the University of Florida found that you shouldn’t wait longer than 17 to 23 days before testing your spark in real life; those who stall can end up creating an idealized image of their date in their heads that reality can struggle to live up to.1
Want advice for writing a successful online hello? Read our first message article here
2. What if I get nervous before my first date?
If you're battling the first date stomach butterflies then congratulations – you’re completely normal. In fact, if it’s any comfort, your date is probably nervous too! Apprehension can strike down the most seasoned dater but, luckily, there are ways to beat it. In a TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy advises standing tall and open in times of stress, as such ‘power stances’ can raise levels of testosterone and cortisol, boosting confidence and quelling nerves.2
3. Do you have any online dating safety tips?
Another way to ease pre-date nerves is to follow basic safety precautions. Dating Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan recommends that you only date in a public place, that you have your own transport sorted in advance, and that you tell a trusted friend where you are going and who with (calling them during the date to confirm that everything is fine).3 Above all, trust your gut instincts: if someone is making you feel uneasy then leave. Don’t worry about staying out of politeness.
Looking for more online dating safety tips? Find our guide to staying safe here
4. What should I wear for a first date?
When planning a first date outfit, it can be tempting to set your phasers to 'stunning’ and leave it at that. However, comfort can be just as important as glamour. After all, if you’re aiming for relaxed and confident, you don’t want to wear something that you’ll be tugging at all night! Bustle’s Julia Friedman recommends that less is more: pick a favorite feature and wear something that highlights only that and don't forget that your outfit should suit the venue!4
Need more ideas for first date outfits? Learn what to wear on a first date here
5. Does the first date have to be a big deal?
Quite simply? No! While it is certainly true that your first date with someone can be the start of something wonderful, it’s also worth remembering that your relationship is still in the very early days – no matter how much you’ve chatted online. Indeed, many people prefer to start with a casual first meeting, designed to test your mutual spark. If that’s the case, it’s perfectly fine to meet for a quick coffee (the preferred first date for 83% of our members5).
Want more insight from our studies on first date behaviour? Read about them here
6. Where should we go for a successful date?
If you do want to meet for coffee, chances are you have a favorite local (alternatively, try the suggestions in our date guides for New York, San Francisco or San Diego). However, if you’ve already checked each other out offline – or if you want to dial up the first date romance – then go for a classic and suggest a nice dinner. It may seem ‘safe’ but sometimes safe is the perfect way to get to know someone, particularly over our members’ favorite romantic cuisine: Italian.6