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First Date Hacks That Actually Work, According To 8 Women

Life hacks are a true blessing, especially where dating is concerned. Because let's be real, fam — dating today can be confusing and even a tad stressful at times. Luckily, other daters have been able to glean some helpful wisdom from their experiences and come up with strategies to ease the whole process. For example, there are so many first date hacks that actually work — not only because they help you to feel more self-assured, but because they also encourage you to actually enjoy the date rather than getting too caught up in your anxious thoughts.

First dates are nerve-wracking for even the most confident individuals, in part because there's a lot of innate pressure to make a stellar impression and snag a second date. But as you probably know, the more you give into those nerves, the less likely you are to feel comfortable in your own skin, and thus, to wow your date. That's where these hacks come in. While they all differ slightly in purpose, approach, and intention, they're all meant to empower you from the moment you meet up with your date to the moment you giddily say goodnight.

Naturally, what works for one person may not suit another. But what do you have to lose? These tried-and-true tricks from real women (and non-binary folks) are totally worth trying.

Start the convo before your date arrives.

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I recommend two things: arrive early, and try starting the conversation via text before they get there. Choose your seat wisely so you feel comfortable, settle in, and send off a text letting your date know you've snagged them a seat. If they reply, you can crack a joke (maybe something about your outfit or that you're five drinks deep already). That way, your date arrives with something to comment on or laugh about right upon meeting.

— Cassandra, 30

Wear a signature scent.

I always have a banging perfume/cologne so there's something to remember me by.

— Megan, 31

Go to your regular spot.

I like to bring my first dates to my go-to neighborhood bar. Since it's familiar (as in, it's a second home), I know I'll be in my element there. Plus, the bartender knows me and I'm treated like a VIP, so I feel extra cool in front of the date I'm trying to impress.

— Nikki, 27

Make time for some pre-date strength training.

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Lifting weights always makes me feel like a bad*ss who can do anything, so if I have time, I always try to hit the gym before a first date.

— Jill, 28

Have a precautionary snack.

I've learned that it's best to eat a little something light before going on a first date when we're meeting for drinks. First of all, I can never tell whether we're going to end up ordering food or not, and I can't enjoy myself if I'm feeling hungry the whole time (and counting down the minutes until I can get home and devour some leftover). Secondly, I have a tendency to down the first couple of drinks pretty fast (blame it on the nerves), and having some food in my system means I won't be hit too hard by that liquid courage an hour into my date.

— Erika, 29

Take a bath.

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I take a long, luxurious bath — sometimes with a glass of wine. Soaking in warm water reduces my anxiety somewhat, and makes me feel more relaxed before a first date.

— Laura, 27

Enlist a friend to check in.

It makes me feel better if one friend is in the loop about my date, so I'll let them know where and when we're meeting up, and I'll also usually ask them to check in at a certain point. It's not just a practical safety measure, it's also just reassuring to know that I'm not totally going it alone. If they text me an hour or so in and I'm eager to GTFO, I'll excuse myself to the bathroom and we'll hash out how I can navigate the situation. It's basically the buddy system for first dates.

— Holly, 27

Own up to the nerves.

If I'm feeling on edge, I find it's better to just come clean about it to my date rather than try to ignore that feeling, stuff it down, or mask it. I'll just say something like, 'Damn, I'm actually a little nervous. You?' Nine times out of 10, they're relieved I came out and said it, and can totally relate. Being open usually helps to break some of the tension — we can laugh about it and then move on.

— Chelsea, 28