A Guy’s Guide to a Successful First Date

A couple drinking coffee at a restaurant.
Gmast3r, iStock

You finally landed a date with a girl who interests you. Congratulations! Dating in today's culture has become increasingly frustrating and confusing, so the fact that you've made it this far is good news.

But now you're nervous. Can you navigate the first date without freaking out or freezing up? It is actually possible to relax, be yourself and have a good time? It is, and here are a few principles for helping that happen.

Call It a Date

Choosing to date is a risky business. You're putting your interest and intentions on the line. But hedging your bets with safe and vague language is confusing and off-putting. In asking the girl out, call it what it is: a date. Don't ask her to "hang out" or "grab pizza or whatever" or some other fuzzy and half-hearted term. You are singling out someone of the opposite sex for the purpose of getting to know her intentionally; that's called a date. Be upfront and enthusiastic about that.

Have a Plan

No girl wants to show up on a date and be asked, "What do you want to do?" That's lazy and disrespectful. Have a plan in mind, preferably one that allows for good conversation. A first date should be casual and low-key; this isn't the time to do a fancy dinner or a day-long, multi-activity extravaganza. Keep it simple, but put some thought into it. Also, be prepared to pay. Don't even let your date reach for her purse. This is your opportunity as a man to step up and show leadership; don't let it pass by.

Having a plan goes beyond even the first date. A plan for the future is something you can also prepare for. We created a guide for any guy looking to marry well.

Download the guide here.

Ask Good Questions

Many studies have proven that we like to talk about ourselves. A great way to set yourself apart on a first date is to honor your date by focusing on her. Have some great questions prepared (in your head, not on a piece of paper, your iPad or a flipchart) and ask them. How did you choose your current line of work? How are you different from your siblings? Have you read any good books or blogs in the last few months? All of these are open-ended questions that facilitate getting to know someone. One word of caution: Leave the eccentricities at home. A first date isn't the time to reveal your bizarre hobby, talent, collection or the fact that you're double-jointed. Also, keep your smartphone in your pocket. Checking social media, texts or emails during a date is the height of rudeness.

End the Date Well

If you had a great time and would like to go out again, say so, then follow up within a couple of days. Don't leave a girl hanging. If you aren't interested in going out again, be honest but respectful. Something like, "Thanks for your time tonight. I really enjoyed getting to know you, and while I don't think I'm interested in pursuing anything further, I wish you all the best" is both clear and kind. Don't make false promises that you don't intend to keep.

All in all, being yourself and showing honor to your date will go a long way. Remember, this is just a date, not a marriage proposal. No one's life is hanging in the balance here. You're getting to know a sister in Christ, nothing more. Have fun and see where it goes. Happy dating!

Are you thinking about the future? We are too.

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