There’s a reason watching them on the TV has become the nation’s favourite pastime, and that’s because first dates are universally awkward.
Seeing as we’re all naturally bad at ‘the game’, we’ve rounded up the top commandments for keeping a date on course for success (or at least making it to the end of it without getting a slap).
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Ask anyone if they’ve partaken in minor online stalking ahead of a first meeting and around half will probably say yes (the other half are just fibbing). Instead of being ashamed, use this to your advantage.
A cursory scan of social media can help with date suggestions; for example, if the other person is a loud and proud vegan, perhaps don’t suggest Nando’s (actually, don’t suggest Nando’s ever).
DON’T BREAK THE BANK
Unless you’re a footballer and can guarantee taking them up The Shard (no, not like that) on every date, don’t try to highball with a venue that will bankrupt you.
A fancy venue will likely make the other person uncomfortable. Keep it light and casual by choosing somewhere you can have a laugh without getting side-eyed by the maître d’.
DO BE A GENTLEMAN
There’s a fine line between chivalrous and chauvinist. However, there are a few basics.
Being polite to everyone, maintaining eye contact and offering to get the other person a cab home (theirs, not yours) will all show that you’re a suitable long-term candidate. Similarly, don’t dominate the conversation. Rather than talking the hind legs off a donkey, stop for breath after each sentence to give them a chance to interject.
When it comes to the bill on date one, not only should you pay for having asked for the pleasure of their company, but it also gives a chance to throw in a humorous “you can pay next time” and avoid the awkward “shall we do this again sometime?” chat.
If they insist on splitting and say no to a second date, take it with dignity and let it slide. The only thing worse than being bad on a date is being worse afterwards.
DON’T TALK CRAP
This is rife on dating app meet-ups, where all previous contact has had the benefit of being edited and re-edited.
When in the real world, ditch overly heavy conversational topics, exaggerating, name-dropping, humble-bragging and overbearing swearing. And of course, the cardinal rule: absolutely no lies.
DON’T PLAY ON YOUR PHONE
The average date lasts around four hours, give or take. If you can’t go that long without needing to be attached to some tech you don’t need a girlfriend – you need a Fleshlight.
If you really must check it, let them know why beforehand or go to the toilet – but remember, the only acceptable reasons are siblings in labour, sick children and your football team being in the Champions League final. Even then, labour lasts a while.
DON’T GET DRUNK
We get it, dates are a nerve-wracking experience, so we’re all for Dutch courage; but the aim is to make a good impression, not get a drunken leg over or do a wake ’n’ cringe the next day.
Alcohol changes the way we behave (and not always for the better). Know your limit, don’t mix drinks, and always make sure there is a jug of water on the table.
DO LOOK THE PART
There’s nothing creepier than a try hard who turns up to a pub date in a dinner suit. Destined to become a story she tells to her mates (and her new boyfriend), wearing entirely inappropriate clothing is a recipe for disaster.
Go for something you feel comfortable in and it’ll show. If in doubt, take it off and stick to the classics.