How Do You Plan a Good First Date?

How do you plan a good first date? Your definition of a good first date is certain to be very individual. Because you’re trying to arrange a good date for both you and someone you may not know well yet, it’s smart to go by a couple of generally-accepted rules.

Being on time and dressed attractively and appropriately for whatever you’ve planned to do is key. Your date is going to be unimpressed if you can’t get your act together. Even more importantly, be nice! Now is not the time for sarcastic wit or showing off a bad temper.

Second, do something that gives you and your date a chance to talk to each other. A bar crawl or a concert aren’t good first-date plans, because you might as well be alone if you can’t get to know each other. Something lower-key, such as an art gallery opening, coffee at a shop on an interesting street, canoeing, or visiting a park or nature spot all give you something fun to do and let you and your date get to know each other. Dinner, especially at a restaurant you know you like, is a good opening. Have a follow-up plan like a desert cafe or a good area for a walk in mind so you can suggest it afterwards if things are going well.

If a sit-down dinner seems too formal or too high-pressure, plan an activity that gives you something to think about other than how you’re holding your fork but still gives you chances to talk and joke around. Do you bowl? Perfect if you both do; sometimes even more fun if you don’t. Same goes for beginners’ night dance lessons, mini-golf, or the grownup version of arcades. If it would be fun with your friends, suggest it to your date.

Because you’ve planned an activity that will let you talk, what you talk about will be important too. Remember: a first date is about ice-breaking and having a good time. You and your date want to form an impression of each other, but it’s not a job interview. Steer clear of weighty conversation on touchy issues such as religion and politics unless you’ve got a good notion of what your date thinks, and whether he/she will enjoy talking about it.

One exception here is that it is a good idea for both parties to give the other a general idea of what they’re looking or hoping for from a potential romantic connection. If one of you is marriage-minded and the other is planning a cross-country move soon, that’s ground you ought to cover. Similarly, if one of you is separated-but-not-yet-divorced, or already dating six other people but looking to fill that Tuesday hole in your schedule, that’s not something you ought to leave for later.

However, it is just a first date. Overall impressions of what you want in the early stages of dating are all that need to be covered. You don’t have to hold a two-person referendum on relationships, and whether this will be one, on the first date. If you know that you’re conclusively for or against, though (“I want kids before I’m 30!” or “I’m just playing the field until after graduation.”), you should let the other person know that.

Planning a good first date really is individual to the people involved, but these guidelines will get you started. If you get a chance to talk to each other, demonstrate that you have good manners and good sense, communicate a little of what you’re like and what you want from life, and have some fun, then you’ve had a good first date!