8 Science-Backed First Date Tips: Make Your Date Great

For years, you’ve been searching for your soulmate on dating sites and online applications.

You were looking for her among beautiful American, incredible Chinese, or amazing Russian brides. And finally, it happened! The first date live!

8 Science-Backed First Date Tips

It can be intimidating to put yourself out there and go on a date with someone you've never met. But it's necessary to remember that a date doesn’t have to cause you any stress. There are lots of great tips out there so we thought it was time to gather some of them to create an ultimate guide.

Here are our first (or any) date tips to make your convo flow smoothly; they are consistent with psychology and people’s experiences.

Pick the Location Wisely

The place of your first date definitely sets the tone. Presuming you don’t know the person very well, you’d benefit from choosing a neutral and laid-back setting where your mind will be directed at the person. You absolutely wouldn’t like it if you went for a full-on meal and discovered you’re not into them while eating the appetizers. In this case, you have nowhere to go but would just have to survive through it.

Instead, go for a casual atmosphere without putting any additional pressure of having to dress in a particular way or spend a lot of money on yourself and the date. It’s perfectly fine to meet for a quick coffee (the preferred first date for 83% of respondents). It gives you some space to leave at any time or go a different place at some point.

Be in the Right Headspace

A crucial thing to take care of is to have the appropriate mindset. While you’re not in charge of what happens on the date, whether you get along or not, you are in charge of the mental framework you go into it with. A 2010 study found that people that are uptight but romantically lucky find a way to channel their insecurities into behaviors that are associated with other and more appealing characteristics. A shaky talker can strike as exceptional company, and willingness to please is viewed as kindness.

In a study on the impact of self-compassion in the dating scene, K. Neff and N. Beretvas point out that instead of fixating on oneself, SC promotes attachment to other people through mindful reaction to difficult emotions. Everybody gets down because of the dating culture at times, but you have the authority to use it to your advantage.

Put Effort into Getting to Know Them

First dates should be about getting to know your date without overstepping boundaries. That means there are topics you can talk about freely (like any shared interests) and topics you shouldn’t touch (at least during the first date). According to a survey, the only actual no-go topic is prior relationships: 40% would avoid it like the plaque. Surprisingly, conventionally taboo subjects like sex, religion, and politics are only actually disapproved of by one in 10 singles.

State University of New York Psychology Professor, Arthur Aron, took the Internet by storm with a list of 36 questions that can spark a deep connection between two people. Look through them and see if you can use them as a guideline on how to have an emotional connection. Some of them are:

  • What would a perfect day for you be like?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
  • What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  • Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Additionally, an indispensable part of a conversation in different circumstances, but specifically when you want to impress someone, is reciprocating. If the date asked you a question, ask a similar one back; if they shared a story, tell them one of yours. The idea is to keep you two equal because, once again, it’s not an interview, and you both should learn relatively the same amount of information.

Remember About Non-Verbal Communication

Approximately 80-90% of the meaning of a conversation lies in the non-verbal part of it. We mostly do it on a subconscious level so trying to control your body language while acting natural seems odd. However, all you need is to be able to detect known unenthusiastic signals and to adjust your behavior a tiny bit. If you’re struggling internally, it may be obvious from the outside as well; your body will give away all the signs of nervousness.

In a TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests standing tall and wide in times of stress as such ‘power stances’ can increase levels of testosterone and cortisol adding courage and releasing tension.

Unless you want your date to think you don’t care about what they want to say, don’t cross your arms and guard yourself. Instead, lean forward and keep your chin up. These non-verbal signals will communicate to your date that they’re being heard. Getting the message across verbally doesn’t do the full job: your body has to channel the same message and energy. This is what is generally understood by vibe—it’s not words but a feeling.

And the other way round: look at the other person’s body language to determine whether they want the convo to remain as is. If they’re in a guarded position or their feet are turned away from you, think about changing the topic.

Here are three positive clues to have in your toolkit.

Mirroring

Mirroring is when you casually imitate the manners of the person you’re in front of. Leander, Chartrand, and Bargh’s study actually demonstrated those not being mimicked resulted in the non-mimicked person feeling colder. Coldness has corresponded with a sense of alienation and social exclusion and a sign of social danger. A study even proved that the insula region of the brain was stimulated for physical sensations of coldness as well as social coldness.

So, we are programmed to want to be mirrored and mirror others. The more drawn we are to people, the more we subconsciously want our behavior to resemble theirs. In case there are no proper ways to clearly articulate your feelings, you can translate through non-verbal communication.

Fronting

This is when you place your whole body facing your date. Research of implied actions during perception of emotional BL revealed that an individual who exhibits more open body language (e.g., arms open by one’s side) is perceived as more likable than an individual who exhibits more closed body language. If a person has upward facing palms, this conveys feelings of openness; hiding their palms or turning them downwards expresses feelings of being closed-off. Therefore, try to open your chest and your whole body for good measure towards the person.

Leaning

In a business meeting or presentation, you can show the spokesperson you are actively involved by leaning forward or sitting at the edge of your seat. You would do the same with your friends at lunch because this sends a positive message. Whatever place you’re intake notice of your date’s posture and position; you might learn from the non-verbal signs that they want to get closer. Reversed situations also take place at times. If they recline in a chair or take a step back, they’re basically telling you that you are causing them trouble. In that case, see how you can resolve that.

Take Lessons from the Past

If you’re struggling to let go of poor dating stories, aim your attention at what that bad date could teach you. Psychology Today advises you to rewrite key elements of your hurtful past from a more compassionate point of view. A healthy rewrite makes you less foolish, less unfulfilled than the story you previously narrated to yourself. They’re not there to alter the facts but to look at them with maturity and empathy.

Come to appreciate what your past says about you. Constant self-improvement is a natural part of life, why should it stop when it comes to dating? If you have the ability to not only heal some parts of yourself but also make your future prospects better, take it without hesitation.  

A lot of things can sidetrack you on date: pessimistic thoughts, concerns about how the date is going, or even something ridiculous like your allegedly messy hair. But if you want to actually make a connection, be present and truly experience the moment with your date.

Another post you can read about dating tips is: “14 unexpected things women notice on dating profiles”.