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The art of the first date


    Sometimes we walk into a date and know within a matter of minutes that there is no physical attraction whatsoever. Attraction can grow, but in order to grow, there at least has to be a little seedling to start.

Some tips on what to do — and what not to do — on a first date:

>> What NOT to do on a first date:

1. Have your phone out or text.

2. Talk about your ex, positively or negatively.

3. Be late without notice.

4. Be excessively late, with or without notice.

5. Be rude to a server, or anyone.

6. Drink too much.

7. Talk about work.

8. Have bad breath/hygiene.

9. Talk about marriage (either your future one or what went wrong in your last one).

10. Fail to tip well.

11. Talk about yourself too much.

12. Be “fake.”

13. Smoke.

14. Flip the “off” switch if no attraction.

The last point always gets some questions. Sometimes we walk into a date and know within a matter of minutes that there is no physical attraction whatsoever.

I’m a big believer that attraction can grow, but in order to grow, there at least has to be a little seedling to start. If there’s not, many people will just turn off, or no longer be present on the date. This means that you’re not only wasting your time but your date’s as well.

Rather than deciding that this date is a failure at the get-go, instead, reframe your mind. Could this person teach you something? Could he or she be a business contact?

When you frame things as, “What can I get out of this interaction?” then it’s a more pleasant experience for both of you.

>> What to do on a first date:

1. Confirm one day before the date.

2. Arrive on time.

3. Greet each other with a casual hug (hug = date, handshake = interview).

4. Wear clothes to match the venue.

5. Put the phone away — yes, away!

6. Smile and remain positive.

7. Ask questions.

8. Have a two-sided conversation.

9. Most importantly, have fun!

>> Body language, or how to increase the “flirt factor”:

1. Face your date. Are your knees facing your date or turned away? The more you point them toward your date, the more likely you are into him/her, and vice versa.

2. Sit next to or catty-corner rather than across. It’s much easier to have a more intimate and less business-like conversation this way.

3. Maintain eye contact. If you want someone to know you’re truly listening, then make the appropriate eye contact.

4. Don’t forget to smile.

>> What to talk about:

There are no right or wrong questions to ask on a date, but the ones that do better require more than a simple one-word answer. For example, “What made you passionate about medicine?” is more interesting than “What do you do?” Some other ideas:

1. How was your day? (Often overlooked, but a great conversation starter.)

2. What do you like to do after work?

3. What made you decide to move to this area, and how do you like it?

4. What does your ideal Sunday look like?

All of these questions are things the other person already knows about him or herself, so it doesn’t require too much introspection. Then you can delve deeper:

>> Level 1: What do you do?

>> Level 2: Have you always had a passion for medicine?

>> Level 3: What are some of the more memorable stories from your job?

>> Level 4: Were you scared when you thought that parakeet was on its last breath?

Remember that, in dating, there’s no perfect science … far from it. But using these pointers will at least get you on the right track … and potentially a second date!

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

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