You think you give off a good impression when you're going on dates, but how can you really tell? A lot of the
signs you're an amazing first date come from how well you follow etiquette — and not always just the obvious things (like not spending the whole date on your phone, not being rude to servers, and showing up to a date sober). But, following etiquette guidelines doesn't mean that you have to be stuffy or feel like you're not yourself.
Of course, the whole point of going on a date is trying to connect with someone who likes you for who you are, right? So while there are some things you should do to be polite and to make things go smoothly, you shouldn't use those etiquette guidelines as a reason to not be yourself. And according to Damona Hoffman, host of the Dates & Mates Podcast, finding that balance shouldn't be too difficult.
"If you are clear on your core values and the values you're seeking in a partner before you get to the date, you will be more likely to stay true to who you are," Hoffman tells Elite Daily. "The goal is not to have every date love you, it's to make a connection with the right person."
Matchmaker and dating coach at Huntingmaven.com, Julia Bekker, echoes this sentiment, and has a helpful tip for making it feel even easier.
"It’s important to be your genuine self," Bekker tells Elite Daily. "Sometimes that’s hard because nerves can get in the way" she adds, but notes that something that can help in that case is "not focusing on whether the person [you're] with will like you but whether this person is someone you could see yourself with or not."
Here are six signs you have great dating etiquette and are likely to make a good first impression — and things you might want to consider doing on your next date, if you aren't already.
You show up on time — and text if you're running late.
A really big thing when it comes to
making a good impression on a first date is not showing up late — or, at the very least, if you are running late (hey, traffic and public transit issues are real), make sure you send a text and let them know.
"Being late is selfish,"
relationship and etiquette expert April Masini tells Elite Daily. "It shows disrespect for the other person. Showing up late — especially if it’s chronic — means you didn’t put the date ahead of scheduling for it. When someone is late often, they’re probably going to be selfish in other ways within the relationship." 02
You dress like you care about the date.
Again, being yourself is important on dates (and in general!) but a little bit of effort in getting ready goes a long way — not to mention, it's important to
dress appropriately for the place you're going (especially if your date is happening somewhere a little more upscale than usual). The point is, you want to put your best — but still genuine — self forward.
"Showing up groomed and coifed and nicely dressed means you care," Masini says. "When you wear what smells least offensive, it means you don’t. Most people who date want to be with someone they can introduce to friends, parents, work colleagues and neighbors. When you dress for a date and you dress appropriately — whether it’s for the ballet, a coffee shop, a tennis match or a cocktail party — you’re telegraphing information that you’re the date who can be taken anywhere and you’ll come through like an ace."
Bekker also adds that giving yourself extra time to get ready between work and a date can help.
"I suggest giving yourself some time after work to go home and refresh before the date," Bekker says. "Change and leave the day behind you."
You offer to pay if you're the one who asked them out.
Your date might insist that they pay anyway or ask to split the check, but as Masini points out, if you're the one who asked the other person out on the date in the first place, it's good etiquette to pay, or at least to
offer to pick up the check.
"If you ask someone out, pay for the date," she says. "It’s just good manners to pick up the check if you did the asking. That doesn’t mean you’re responsible for every check, but it does mean that in the early stages of dating you’re showing that you’re generous, have good manners and appreciate someone who said yes to going out with you."
You plan questions — and an out — for your date.
To show your date that you're really interested in them and make conversation feel a little less awkward, think about what you'd like to know about them beforehand, and make sure
you ask them questions about their life to get to know them. (They should be doing the same for you!)
"If you're meeting [someone from a dating site or app], re-read the person's profile and ask yourself, 'What am I curious about?'" Hoffman says. "Even though swipe apps have little information to go on, figure out why you said yes to this person (other than their cute face) and ask questions on the date."
Another thing you should plan for? Keeping your date short and having a reason to leave can help a first date go even better.
"Pre-plan an out for your date and keep the first date to about an hour," Hoffman suggests. "Many people overstay or over-drink on a first date, and if you keep the first date short and sweet and leave them wanting more, you'll have a better chance at
snagging a second date." 05
You follow the "Yes, and" rule for conversation flow.
A great way to keep the conversation flowing, Hoffman notes, is to take a tip from improv lessons.
"Use the improv principle of 'Yes, and' in date conversation," Hoffman says. "Always think of confirming you understand what the person just said and adding on with stories of your own. That will make the conversation flow better than simply asking a series of questions."
Following the "Yes, and" method means that you'll get time to share your stories as well as asking about your date's — and it will probably help you move from one conversation topic to another much more smoothly.
You put your focus on being a good listener.
Another big thing that will give off a good impression on a first date (and honestly, will come in handy in a relationship, too) is to be a good listener.
"Asking questions is important, but listening is just as important, and don’t monopolize the conversation," Bekker says. "
What I mean by active listening is don’t just pretend to listen, really listen and focus on what’s being said. Make sure your mind is clear and not distracted."
According to Hoffman, you should try to focus on listening more than you talk.
"We are so consumed with wanting the other person to like us that we tend to go into show-off mode, but the real key to a great date is connecting with the person in front of you — which can't be achieved by bragging and over-talking them," Hoffman says.
All-in-all, being a good first date really just means being the most thoughtful, considerate version of your self. And really, that's what you'd hope any potential romantic partner would put forth too, right?
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