The advice that I give my clients before the first date is usually tailored to the individual. But there are some general “rules” that always apply.
Keep ex talk to a minimum
This is not to say that the subject of your ex will not come up, especially if the relationship was recent and significant. But you’ll absolutely want to avoid talking incessantly about him or her or why the relationship ended. This may raise a red flag with your date that you have unresolved issues about your former relationship. And if it does come up, not only should you keep it brief, but you should never talk disparagingly about your ex. If you are asked a direct question about why the relationship ended, be as positive as possible. This will show evolvement and accountability.
No sex talk
This seems like an obvious one but it always bears repeating (and men, sorry to say, but I’m talking to you right now!) Talking about sex on the first date will almost always make the other person feel really uncomfortable. And this will almost always ensure ruining your chances of a second date.
Don’t monopolize the conversation
There is always going to be some level of awkwardness on the first date. Nerves and those inevitable lulls in the conversation can cause some people to talk and to continue to talk. But the conversation really needs to be give and take. If you feel like you may be talking about yourself too much, take a breather and ask your date a question. Be interested and engaged in what he or she is saying and then ask follow up questions. Hopefully they are doing the same and the conversation will flow easily in both directions.
Manage your expectations
There is the tendency to approach dating as just a search for a life partner. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of expectation to put on a date when really it’s just two people getting together for hopefully a fun evening of conversation and connection. That should be your goal for the evening. When you stop treating dating with such serious intentions, you will just automatically feel more relaxed and at ease. The pressure will be off and you will not only enjoy yourself more but you’ll be showing your date the best and most authentic version of yourself.
Leave the checklist at home
Dating, and choosing a romantic partner, has to be more about the how the person makes you feel than a laundry list of must haves. Attraction that goes deeper and will last long-term has to be based on more than that. Don't be overly focused on checking off boxes on a first date. Be open and plan that second date. Atraction can definitely build!
Keep the conversation light
A first date is just an introduction. Don’t make your date feel uncomfortable with big, personal questions. There are a lot of safe subjects you can tackle that will allow you to get to know the person without getting too personal. For example, ask questions about their hobbies or interests, where they have travelled or would like to travel or about their work. When there are common interests stay on the subject a while and ask follow up questions. If things progress and you end up seeing them again, the conversation will inevitably and naturally turn more serious as you get to know each other. Don’t rush it!