If the thought of first dates make you hyperventilate, you're not alone. After all, few things are as anxiety-provoking and awkward as that first one-on-one. Thankfully, it's easy to stay on top of the game if you know what to do (and what not
to). Here's a checklist of the do's and don'ts to make it work.
Do pick the right venue
Play it safe on your first date. "Isolated, dark, quiet places may be great for romance, but on a first date, the goal is to get comfortable with each other. And comfort comes with safety," says Dr. Joy Browne, relationship expert and author of Dating For Dummies.
Always set up your first date at a public place where there will be a lot of other people, and avoid hikes or bike rides in remote areas for the first few dates.
Do choose the right activity
Plan an activity that allows you to break the ice and gives you something to talk about (that means the clichéd movie date isn't such a fantastic idea) and doesn't last more than a couple of hours. Some first date ideas to try include the tried-and-true dinner, the museum, art gallery or amusement park date. "Traveling carnivals or dances work too, because what you want a first date to be is a little unusual, a little fun, but not uncomfortable," suggests Browne.
Don't think about the wedding bells
There'll always be that tingling excitement and anticipation on first dates -- "Will it go well, will it not?" Hey, that's perfectly normal, but refrain from pinning too much expectation when you're seeing a guy for the first time. It's easy to get carried away with the daydreaming, wondering if he's The One and trying on his last name for size, but this just sets you up for unnecessary stress. Remember, the purpose of initial dating is just to check if this guy is suitable for you -- once you recognize that, it takes a lot of tension off on the first date.
Don't let him pick you up (or take you home)
You don't really know this guy that well yet, especially if you got to know him online. Safety should always be the top of your priority, so "don't have him come up to your apartment on the first date," says Ellen Fein, co-author of The Rules.
Arrange to meet him in the lobby of your apartment building or at the restaurant. Not having him take you home also avoids the dilemma you'd face as to whether to invite him into your place.
Do keep your conversations cordial
Keep your convos light-hearted
, whether it's about your hobbies, vacation stories, shared interests, etc -- basically just about the same things you'd share with a new friend. It's okay to ask your date if he's looking to be in a long-term relationship, just so you know you're both on the same page, but avoid bombarding him with too-personal questions. Off-limit discussions are marriages, kids, your exes, your sex life -- you don't want to scare him away by sharing your intimate details too much, too soon.