How to Prepare For a First Date

April 20, 2017

mental preparationRecently a coaching client shared that she felt that her “performance” on first dates had improved. I cringed, feeling badly that she felt she had to perform, but I quickly realized she was absolutely right. A first date is a tryout. It’s an audition and an interview. It got me thinking about ways that you can increase your odds of having great dates by preparing to “perform” your best.

A Caveat

Most of the tryouts we experience are one-sided. Whether we’re interviewing for a job or auditioning for a role in a play, our performance will be judged by someone who has the power to make a decision to choose us above other candidates. Dating is different, because each party is both auditioning and evaluating the other.

This is important to remember, because we tend to focus more on qualifying ourselves to our date. Whatever we’re feeling on a first date, like excited, nervous, or a tad insecure – we can assume our date is feeling the same emotions.

Laying the Groundwork For a Successful Date

1. Advance Communication

It’s good practice to “prime” communication with your date in advance. Between the time you make plans and meet up, take a moment to send a text indicating your interest. This will put your date at ease and create an expectation for a successful meeting.

  • Looking forward to meeting you!
  • Thanks for making a plan – sounds like fun

Often people chit chat back and forth via text before going on a date. That’s so that they can break the ice and create a sense of compatibility in advance. But if you’re not the type to text day and night, a quick message indicating your excitement will go a long way toward creating a comfortable vibe when you meet. Your goal is to offer encouragement by showing that you expect good things from the date.

2. Mental Preparation

It’s important to get into the right headspace before you go on a date. You want to come across as:

  • Balanced
  • Confident
  • Sane
  • Positive

You don’t want to read as:

  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Stressed out
  • Negative

Plan some quiet time for yourself beforehand. Meditate, do yoga, read something meaningful to you or listen to music that gets you in the right frame of mind. It doesn’t have to be quiet and soothing to be effective – I used to get pumped up before socializing by listening to my favorite album at top volume and dancing around the room.

3. Physical Preparation

When we think of getting ready for a date, we usually envision women shaving their legs, putting on makeup and blow drying their hair. Men groom for dates too. Looks are important, and you want to be as physically attractive to your date as possible.

There are also ways of getting physically primed to socialize that don’t necessarily show up as part of our outward appearance. Heading out for a run and getting the endorphins going is a good way to prepare for a date. So is any kind of workout that gives you a sense of accomplishment and vitality.

If you’ve had a stressful day, get a massage or work the kinks out. Do some stretches.

One other thing – I advise people never to go straight from work to a date. Try and schedule something for later so that you have time to unwind, shower and change your clothes. It makes a huge difference. I find that this is particularly true for women – many women spend the workday being assertive and competent, but that’s not really the ideal MO for a date. I always found it helpful to follow a routine that allowed me to switch gears after work.

Several of my clients have adopted routines they follow before going on a date. Everyone has their own formula – try some things and see what works for you. You may want to focus on the mental piece, or you may find that a physical workout does it all for you. The goal is to go into the date with positive energy. If you do, that’s what you’ll get back from your date.

Laying the Groundwork for Another Successful Date

Communication and Feedback

Many people are unsure about the best way to communicate after a date. I get that question a lot. My own feeling is that it’s nice to send a text thanking your date for the evening, regardless of whether you’re interested in going out again. This is particularly true for women who did not pay their way.

  • Thanks for coming out tonight, I enjoyed meeting you.
  • Thanks again for dinner, that was really nice of you.

It’s a matter of common courtesy. If you hope to see the person again, give them some positive feedback! You have nothing to lose and it could make a huge difference in the other person’s perception of how the date went.

Think about the end of a job interview where the interviewer formally shakes your hand and says “Thanks for coming in,” then turns and walks away. You walk out of there knowing in your gut that you’re not a contender. If instead the interviewer warmly says it was really terrific to have you in and she looks forward to being in touch soon, you walk out feeling great about the prospect. You know you performed well.

So if you had a date that was fine but not great, and you don’t want to see the person again, a simple thank you will suffice. If you hope to go on a second date, it pays to express that you had a wonderful time and hope to see your date again soon.

What do you think? Do you have a routine you follow to get ready for a date? What are the most essential things you do to prepare?

Do you view every date as an opportunity to meet someone new, even if it’s not a romantic home run? Do you express appreciation at the end of a date? Let’s discuss!

By the way, I’ll be away until May 1 on vacation. We’re getting one last trip in with the whole family before my grandson is born in August!