It doesn’t matter where or how you got one, first dates are awesome. And terrifying.

Whether you’re meeting up with your hairdresser’s cousin’s single friend, or you’ve decided to choose an unusual date on HowAboutWe, there are more ‘first world problems’ in the world of dating now than ever. On your first date, they can be deal-breakers, so check out these 11 first date tips for modern love lives.

1. Know when it’s a date (and when it isn’t)

There are no hard rules any more when it comes to what counts as a date. You could go for nachos with several friends and still make that your first date if you both want to. Or you could meet one-on-one, have dinner, sleep together, and call it “friends with benefits”. That being so, your safest bet is to be clear by calling it a date when you agree where and when to meet up.

2. Talk, don’t text

Asking someone on a date by text or IM might seem like a great way to dodge confidence issues, but it loses a lot of your message. Instead, make the arrangements the old-fashioned way by phone or in person so that you can hear each other’s voices. And if you’re invited on a date via SMS, text back, “Sounds good. Give me a call when you’re free to talk about it!”

3. Don’t do dinner

Dinner takes a while and if you’re desperate to escape after the first drink, you’ll wish you’d arranged a shorter date! Go for a lunch date instead, or choose a non-food situation like a walk in the park. That way you can leave early if you want, or make it last all afternoon if you’re having fun.

4. Agree a connectivity policy

Do you hate it when people answer phone calls during a date? Or are you too busy tweeting to notice? Agree with your date from the start about what’s OK and what’s rude so that you won’t get annoyed with each other’s mobile interruptions.

5. Smell nice

Smell is one of the most complex human senses; it triggers emotions, memories, and physical feelings. If you smell nice to your date, they’ll find you more attractive; if you smell nice to yourself, you’ll feel more confident and attractive, too. Scents that most people (male or female) like include fruits, vanilla, and clean human skin.

6. Ask them to do you a favour

It may sound backwards, but it’s true. Research shows that asking somebody to do you a personal favour tends to make them like you more, so ask for something small like their help to choose a gift for a friend. Then thank them plenty and show your gratitude by inviting them on a second date!

7. Pick up your own tab

It’s so much less complicated than negotiating any other payment arrangement with someone you barely know. And because it’s fair, neither of you will feel owed or owing.

8. No humblebragging

Yes, it’s impressive that you compete in triathlons/run your own business/know that DJ. It’s so impressive that pretending to be humble or embarrassed when you’re actually pretty damn proud is just silly. Brag openly and briefly, as in, “Yeah, I do triathlons. I won the Example Triathlon last year,” then get back to whatever you were talking about before that.

9. Eat mint

Do this not just to make sure your breath smells OK, but also because it perks you up. Mint helps you feel fresh, alert and ready for conversation. Plus, eating something minty prevents your mouth getting too dry if you’re nervous.

10. Be prepared

No matter who you are, there’s always a possibility that your first date could lead to sex, perhaps sooner than you thought. Be prepared with protection against pregnancy and STIs, of course, but it’s also important to prepare for the hormonal rush you’ll feel if there’s strong sexual chemistry between you and your date. Those hormones affect your judgement, so don’t take any unnecessary risks like driving too fast or drinking too much alcohol.

11. Smile!

A genuine smile makes everyone look more attractive, without exception, so give your date a big smile when you see them. Because smiling triggers your nervous system to release serotonin, it improves your mood at the same time to help you enjoy the date.

Don’t worry about minor mishaps on a first date. The less you fret about it, the more relaxed and confident you’ll feel. Keep these first date tips in mind to boost your date from average to awesome, and remember: this isn’t a job interview. It’s supposed to be fun!

Get ideas for your second date: 50 Date Ideas for Couples

Featured photo credit: Male and female legs during a date via Shutterstock

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