The first date is the worst date. I say this because you, a spritely, ambitious, young single seeking love and/or companionship, is looking to have a successful first date by going out on a rudimentary/awkward date of coffee, dinner or a movie with a person who's not your friend, and not yet an acquaintance. They're a stranger.
At this point, this person has potential to be Prince Charming, or, more likely, the kind of guy who punctuates a date with a dick pic. Your duty here is to discover which of these dudes the guy sitting across the table talking about his life's ambitions happens to be.
To ensure your date goes as well as it possibly can, I've consulted various studies and surveys concerning the first date and dating, in general.
From what to eat to what you should wear, the following studies have reached sound conclusions that can benefit you in navigating the "forkiest" of roads that is modern dating:
1. Be direct.
A study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that people are more inclined to go on a date when approached directly. This means when you do set a date, be specific about where and when you want to go out.
“Let's go out sometime,” won't cut it. This result would suggest that playing hard to get can (and should) no longer be an option. In fact, the study also concluded that subtleness was the least effective way to express interest in somebody.
2. Grab dinner.
Dinner and drinks isn't exactly original, but it is one of the most effective and enjoyable first date ideas out there, at least according to science. Match.com's annual Singles In America survey of over 5,500 American singles found that people who don't do dinner and drinks on a first date are 107 percent less likely to go on a second.
Where should you go? Results found that sushi dates were most successful, with second date chances increasing by 170 percent. Not a fan of seafood? An “expensive restaurant” boosts your odds by 50 percent.
3. Grab drinks after dinner.
The Singles In America 2016 survey also found that drinks greatly increased your chances of a second date. Cocktails alone boosted odds by 137 percent. After-dinner drinks were the ideal time to have them, bettering your odds by 59 percent.
4. Low-investment date? Grab coffee.
If you met somebody on a dating site or app and don't want to invest much on what could be a disaster, research from dating app Clover concluded that the most popular first date location — according to over 200,000 North American users — is Starbucks.
Clover's CEO admits the result was surprising, but deduced that "Men seem more willing to commit to a first meeting over dinner at a restaurant versus women who prefer being able to screen dates over coffee.” Interesting.
5. Don't skimp on dessert.
So, you've had a lovely meal and you couldn't eat another bite. But, according to research from Purdue University, you should. The study discovered that those who drank something sweet were more likely to go out with somebody than women who drank water when given a description of a potential mate. Weird study, I know.
Researchers concluded that participants also expected the relationship to be more intimate after tasting something sweet! A similar study using cookies delivered similar results.
6. Wear red.
Don't know what to wear? Reach for something red. Research from Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China, says the color increases a woman's sex appeal and also makes her seem more “approachable” and “competent.”
These qualities were determined by reviewing women's photos while draped in either red, blue or white. The same was found to be true for men, as well, but the results weren't as drastic.
7. Talk about work.
Dating website Zoosk examined two first dates between two different couples and conducted a survey to determine the do's and don'ts of first date etiquette. Results found that 66 percent of men want to discuss employment during (or right after) the first date.
It also revealed that 41 percent of men want to discuss their date's desire, unwillingness or inability to have children during the first date or soon thereafter. What not to talk about? The people you've slept with (obviously), and money.
8. See how much they're willing to spend.
WhatsYourPrice.com, an online dating site where members bid on a chance for a first date (seriously? Seriously... ) found that, during a two-year study, the more a man spends on a date, the more commitment he's looking for.
According to the study, the average man spends roughly $80 on a first date, which seems a bit steep. But men who spent $240 or more on their date increased their chances of serious commitment by 34 percent. Those who spent below $80 were found to be more sexually promiscuous and were more likely to seek sex with no strings attached.
No matter how uninventive dinner and drinks may seem, traditional date ideas are the most effective way to go on a date. Hell, even coffee proved effective. And no matter how disingenuous or shallow it might seem, research has concluded that the money spent on a date is an indicator of how serious the date is being taken.
For perspective, the average Tinder date costs $19.20, the lowest of all online daters, according to this study. People who were introduced through a friend spent the most on a date, averaging $46.10.
What's more, all the studies consulted reach the same or similar conclusions. Dinner and drinks are expensive, especially when it ends up with dessert. This kind of date is also ideal for frank conversation, say, about work?
Ultimately, though, dating is not a science. I've consulted these studies as a means of pointing us in the right direction — a GPS for these fork-y roads I mention.
For example, even though Tinder was the media responsible for the lowest investment on a date, I'm engaged to the first person I ever took out from Tinder. So, there's that.