1. DO keep it to just the two of you
Inviting your mom/best friend/therapist on your date signals that you may not be ready for a relationship with another grown up. Inviting your passing-by comedian friend to your table while dining al fresco signals that you really don’t know any better. In both scenarios, awkward questions will ensue.
2. DON’T be a klutz
Try not to spill raspberry margarita or anything red, brown or wet on your date. Flag the waitstaff for extra napkins. DO NOT pat down your date in a “helpful attempt” to dry them off. If your date lives close by, offer to drive/walk them to their place so they can change. DO NOT be creepy and invite yourself in. Wait in the lobby or on the porch.
3. DO practice good hygiene
It should go without saying that showering before a first date is recommended. As is brushing your pearly whites. Studies show that people who smell good smell good. The key to good hygiene is to do it at home. DO NOT pull out your dental floss at table and begin to floss. Not even if you just bought and paid for two steak dinners with corn on the cob. Excuse yourself and check your floss-loving face out in the lavatory. If you must, discreetly use a toothpick to get them there meat bits out yer gob.
4. DON’T make assumptions
Asking your date how they would like their eggs in the morning is one way to increase the likelihood of #2 intentionally happening to you. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, play it cool and you’ll have a chance to role-play the TSA pat down soon enough.
5. DO be curious about your date’s hobbies and interests
That being said, scribbling them down on a napkin or your iPad with times, locations and other pertinent details may result in a restraining order. Recommended conversation starters include: What kind of vacations do you like to take? What do you like best about your friends? Where did you bury your ex’s body? (That’s a perfectly valid question!)
6. DON’T be too clingy
Unless this is a first date with someone you’ve known for years and they already know your neurotic tendencies and still agreed to go on a date/ask you out, posting a selfie of you and your date during dinner on Instagram using the “Apollo” filter and using hashtags #havingfun #OMGHesTheOne may freak your date out.
Also, changing your Facebook status to “in a relationship” on a first date may also scare some would-be dates. Unless you change it to “in a relationship with Häagen-Dazs Dolce De Leche.”
7. DO be forthcoming with genuine compliments
As long as you’re complimenting your date. Ogling the waitstaff or other patrons is not cool. Especially when you hit them up for their telephone number or mime the classic “call me” with the old school thumb and pinky sign. P.S. Saying “It must have taken you forever to look that good” is not a compliment.
8. DON’T be overly dramatic
Enacting dining scenes from movies such as “Lady and the Tramp” (sharing spaghetti), “When Harry Met Sally” (faking an orgasm) or “The Godfather” (be an assassin) may put you into the overly weird category. Especially if you’re of the Lee Strasberg acting method school. If things aren’t going smoothly on your date, laugh it off. Most likely you’re both nervous and tense. (May be a good time to ask where they buried that body, right?)
9. DO pick a location that is first-date appropriate.
Choosing the right place needn’t be stressful. A place with good lighting and is relatively quiet encourages conversation. Meeting for coffee, while cliché, can end up turning into lunch, dinner and dessert. It can also end up as just coffee. You’ll know soon enough if your date is grande interested in you or just lattes in general. Another great first date is playing mini golf. Unless your date has an irrational fear of windmills.
10. DON’T take your first date too seriously.
It’s not like you brought the current IKEA catalogue with you, with colored index tabs marking your favorite items and your plan for increased feng shui in your new apartment together, right? Right?
About the author: Jean Leggett is a stand-up comedian, joy & laughter life coach and laughter yoga leader. She has been attached to her husband for 17 years and shudders at the memories of her bad dates from the mid-1990’s. She also still shudders at photos of her hair in the 1980’s. Follow her on Facebook at www.fb.com/coachjeanleggett