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Merlinebeauty tips for your first date

Ladies and Gentlemen, take notes of all this .

 

Signing up to a first date with someone new is always going to be a nerve-wracking experience. When I first started dating in London it was a totally new, and scary, experience. I had all of these different questions running through my mind: what to wear, where we should go, what topics of conversation I should have ready in my head. Make no mistake – guys stress about this as much as girls do.

Well, it’s about time we stopped that mini-breakdown from ever happening. The last thing you (or your date) wants at your very first meeting is for you to be feeling like a blundering buffoon in the middle of a war zone. It’s just not cricket.

This post is written for guys, from a male perspective, because on a first date, I think guys should take the lead.

  • Pre-date prep

When I say “prep”, I mean preparing for what you might say and where you might go. This isn’t a posh word for the boring homework you had to do at school. Prepping for a first date should be both exciting and fun – words you never associated with practising algebra. Preparation is absolutely essential, and turning up on the day hoping to “wing it” is like jumping on a bicycle in Thailand and trying to weave through the traffic. You will crash. And probably die.

If you’re planning on taking him/her somewhere impressive, book a table in advance. If you’re meeting in London and you’re a total newbie to the city, study the relevant map – street, tube or otherwise – and plan your route if you’re headed to multiple locations. Think about what you might like to drink if you hit a cocktail bar, and why you like it. Order something like an “Old-Fashioned”, which usually won’t be on the menu but is one cocktail that all barmen will know how to make. It’s a great conversation-starter and will show that you are an interesting, sophisticated, smooth guy who knows what he likes and why.

Before the date, find out a little about her (but not everything – getting to know someone is much more fun face to face, trust me): what she likes to drink or eat, her favourite places, her favourite things to do. This will help to generate valuable date ideas; tailoring your evening to whomever you’re dating will demonstrate that you are a thoughtful person and help you to leave a lasting impression. It’s okay to have a few nice date spots in your arsenal to fall back on for last-minute adventures, but let’s not treat this like a production line; the more personalised, the better.

What you’re trying to do here is ensure that your date runs as smoothly as possible on the night by doing all of the hard work beforehand, so you don’t encounter any awkward what-do-I-do-now moments. Some people say “fortune favours the brave”, but in reality it’s more like “fortune favours the prepared”.

  • Where to go

Your first-date venue totally depends on who you’re dating. A swanky restaurant on the 30th floor of a posh London skyscraper isn’t going to be for everyone, but then again, a 5k run isn’t every girl’s cup of tea either. (I’ve got mates that have done both for first dates – yes, a 5k run!) It should go without saying, but a Wetherspoon’s or a movie night with a Domino’s from down the road is not OK, no matter who the girl is. Choices like these suggest either that you can’t be bothered or that you have no money, neither of which are very attractive. If you are broke, it doesn’t have to stop you – just get creative. A walk in the park, city sightseeing or even the local pub are totally acceptable locations for a first date, provided you’ve applied a bit of thought.

At this point I should say that suggesting a night in also implies you’re just after one thing. I don’t care how you phrase it or how long you’ve been chatting online: no guy in their right mind suggests a night in at their house in front of a movie unless he wants sex. At any rate, this is the message you will most likely be sending.

Women like men, not boys, and men have a level of emotional intelligence that means they are interested in meeting a woman they share chemistry with, can laugh with and have values they match up with. Boys only care about sex. Don’t be that guy.

In the past I’ve researched first-date ideas for other features I’ve written and, overwhelmingly, bowling, the aquarium and a walk in the park came up trumps. But other ideas include tickets to the theatre, a trip to an exhibition or museum, drinks in an interesting speakeasy and a visit to the zoo. All of these are great because they take the pressure off having to keep the conversation going and allow for natural pauses.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something you’re going to enjoy too – after all, she wants to see you having fun. When you’re having fun you’re going to be yourself, which ultimately is the version of you she will hopefully fall in love with later on down the line.

  • What to say

Research suggests that there are certain questions you can ask to make your date remember you (in a good way).

As crazy as it sounds, it’s all about triggering the right memories. Now, this might seem like game-playing or some kind of mental trickery, but it’s actually just a natural way to ensure your date goes well. It’s also science. Studies show that asking her what her favourite memory is will trigger endorphins – or happy hormones – as she remembers a time when she was really happy. She will then, subconsciously, associate those feelings with you. The same goes for asking her about the scariest or most exciting thing she’s ever done. Those memories will trigger that same adrenaline she felt back then, and she’ll associate those feelings of excitement and spontaneity with you. Moreover, asking her to go into greater detail about whatever story she might be telling you delivers a statement of interest and shows that you care about what she has to say – you’re not just here to take her home at the end of the night. And of course, it’s probably a good idea to have your own answers ready to go for when she asks you the same questions in return.

Above all, be polite and courteous, and show her you’re interested. Flirt, have fun, always offer to pay the bill, and end the night with a kiss on the cheek.

Now go, enjoy your first dates. Good luck!

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