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January 01, 2024

How to Have a Great First Date: Essential Do’s and Don’ts

Ah, the excitement and anticipation of a first date!

Whether you just connected on a dating website or app—and have never met—or you’ve known each other but have never dated, the prospect of a first date can be nerve-wracking for many people. It can be both exciting and scary at the same time.

Maybe it’s because we put too much pressure on ourselves. We think we have to say the right thing or be what we think the other person wants us to be. We think we have to be perfect, when we simply need to be our authentic self—the amazing, unique person God created us to be.

Maybe we get anxious because we get ahead of ourselves emotionally. Don’t start daydreaming and planning your wedding in your head on a first date just because the guy sitting across from you at the coffee house seems to be Mr. Wonderful.

You can’t “say yes to the dress” before you’ve even said “yes” to dessert!

Sure, first dates can cause sweaty palms and jitters, but if you look at a first date for what it really is—and trust the One who loves you most to lead and guide you in the process—you may just find a new sense of confidence and peace inside.

It seems to me that a first date is simply an opportunity to get to know better someone you don’t know very well and determine if you want to know more.

OK, it’s that and more.

A first date is also a chance to have fun with someone you really like—or think you could like.

I have friends who call a first date a “look-see.” You’re not making a commitment to anything beyond coffee, dinner, or whatever your first date plans will be. You’re going to look and see, and start to assess if this person could be a significant part of your life or not.

I’ve had my share of first date disasters and first date delights.

Once, a co-worker set me up on a blind date. We met at a casual restaurant for our first (and only) date. This man was so nervous his hands would not stop shaking. When he picked up a coffee cup, I seriously thought he was going to spill hot java across the entire table. I tried to put him at ease. But, as it turned out, we had nothing to talk about.

It simply wasn’t a match.

On the other hand, I had a great first date with someone we’ll call Luke. He was new to our church singles group. And, one day he called and asked me out.

Luke and I went to a hole-in-the-wall ethnic food place, and while I didn’t care for the food, I was refreshed by the fact that he was interesting and interested in learning more about me. He asked questions. He listened. He told me his story—and wanted to know mine. Luke was a good conversationalist, something I value. (The rest of the story? We ended up dating for six months and then broke up. But we did have an awesome first date.)

So if you, or someone you know, will be embarking on a first date, here are a few things to consider—some do’s and don’ts for a great first date:

First Date Do's

• Know the basics: Meet in a public place. Be on time.

• Be confident. Confidence is very attractive.

• Be your authentic self. When you’re being yourself, the other person will most likely open up and feel more comfortable being himself too.

• Talk and listen. The art of good conversation is a balance between talking and listening. Don’t talk about yourself the entire time. Ask questions that will help you get to know the other person.

• Be kind. Even if you know in the first two minutes of the date that you are not a good match, don’t be discourteous or rude.

• Treat each other with respect and honor. Know your boundaries (your limits of how far you will or will not go physically) beforehand and be strong in your convictions ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

• Pray about your love life. Before you go on your first date, pray about your time together. Ask God to lead and guide each of you. Then trust Him and be at peace. He loves you and He really does know what’s best.

• Have fun!

First Date Don’ts

• Don’t let your past define you. It is a part of who you are, but it’s not the entirety of what makes you the unique individual that you are.

• Don’t be nervous. OK, sometimes it’s hard not to be anxious. We’re human. But don’t let negative self-talk sabotage your time together.

• Don’t over share. Getting to know someone is like peeling away the layers of an onion—one at a time. Don’t give everything away on the first date.

• Don’t text on your cell phone or other device on a date. Be present. Make eye contact. You’re there to get to know each other after all.

• Don’t have unrealistic expectations. It’s a first date, an opportunity to get to know someone better and see if you could potentially be a match for more than a friendship.

• Don’t take rejection personally. If he or she doesn’t contact you after one date—even after a seemingly good time—it’s not because you’re not “enough” (pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, whatever enough). It’s because they don’t see you as a good match for what they are looking for. And that’s OK! If it doesn’t work out, know that God is protecting you, not withholding from you.

So as you walk out your front door and into a new adventure, trust that our good and loving God goes before you. He goes with you. He’s got this.

Be at peace. Trust God. And, have fun!