1. Research places
If you’re the one who has chosen to organise the date, you have several aspects to consider. Do you think it better to get to know each other over a few drinks, or during an activity that you share an interest in, such as walking around a museum or going to a gig? If you’re considering an outdoor date, check the weather beforehand – if it’s wet, it may not turn into the cinematic and joyous frolic in the rain you might imagine! Try to have two or three options at hand, and ask if your date has a preference.
2. Safety first
Whilst it’s not all that fun to entertain the highly unlikely notion that your date could be American Psycho incarnate, there is no harm in leaving details with those you trust outlining where you are going, when you are going there and precisely with whom. Similarly, give a rough ETA for your coming home – and if certain events arise that mean you are in no rush to be getting back, remember to send a short, prearranged text to let those who care about you know that you are safe (and that you’ll divulge every enthralling detail tomorrow!).
Whilst flowing conversation will break out between any two well-matched people on a date, it may calm your nerves to think of a few ice-breakers, especially if you’re not used to this sort of thing. Think of open questions about their life, their career, their family – more closed questions, such as the well-meaning but slightly dull “How was your day?” or the automatic but inherently short “How have you been?” won’t be of as much help. Five minutes in, you’ll have probably forgotten you prepared ice-breakers at all – but they’re always there if the conversations reaches a natural ebb.
4. Prepare to give your full attention
There are fewer ruder or off-putting things to do on a date than looking at one’s phone. Invest all your attention in the person sitting opposite you, just as you would like them to invest theirs in you. To this end, not only silence your phone but respond to any outstanding emails and texts so they’re not preying on your mind when you’re trying to keep up with the conversation. Furthermore, plan your schedule properly around your date so that you’re not worrying about getting home way past bedtime or not having completed your work in time. If you are in a rush or worrying about something else, not only will it show but you will not be able to fully take in what your date is saying.
5. Get a second opinion on your appearance
Whilst you might think you look the bee’s knees in your double denim and Doc Martens, your friend or relative might gently advise that you look instead like a rejected extra from The Dukes of Hazzard. It can be easy to get so caught up in getting your appearance exactly right that you either become blind to its flaws or overly obsessed with inconsequential aspects thereof. A second opinion will serve to assure you that you look fine (or that you don’t and should instead burn the entire outfit and re-evaluate your sartorial repertoire). If no-one is around, you could video-call them and ask for an appraisal as you parade around self-consciously in front of your phone or laptop.
6. Be rested
There’s nothing sexy about bags under the eyes. If you’re going on an evening date and are working during the day, ensure you get a good night’s rest – you want to have as much energy as possible, as dates can be exhilarating, and therefore tiring, experiences. Furthermore, it is important to have downtime between work and a date – getting out of work clothes, out of work mode, and into evening clothes, into date mode.
7. Enjoy it!
You’re going on a date! This should be exciting, liberating, fulfilling – so help yourself feel those things and fully engage with the event! Put aside enough time to get ready for your date at a slow and relaxed pace. Shower, put some music on, lay your clothes out beforehand. Consider your timings and make sure you won’t be rushed (or sweaty!). Have a glass of wine if you want to take the edge off those nerves (although don’t do this on an empty stomach, and stop if you begin feeling tipsy – you want to feel sharp and quick-witted). Embrace the jitters – remember, wherever your date is at that moment, they’ll be feeling exactly the same! A date can be a momentous occasion, so be kind to yourself – make sure that when your date meets you, they’re seeing you at your best.