A Guide To A Successful First Date

What's the score in the Limerick match kid?"

What's the score in the Limerick match kid?"

It seemed natural to write a first date guide as a follow up to the Tinder article I wrote a few weeks ago but then I realised that if I was actually any good at first dates I probably wouldn’t be single right now! So, I turned to Instagram and Snapchat and asked for some helpful tips from some of my female friends and followers. Some of the feedback was hilarious (no football shirts, no pint of milk with your dinner, no Lynx Africa), some of it was contradictory (a nice dinner/definitely not dinner, it’s way too full on and intimidating) but there were a lot common themes which I’ve tried to tie together in the form of some helpful tips for navigating a successful first date.

Shoutout to Emma Dooley for the hilarious responses

Shoutout to Emma Dooley for the hilarious responses

The most common reply that I got was “just be normal” which might sound a little vague and confusing, but I think I can understand to some extent. The less weird you come off the better. For starters, it’s good to do a small bit of homework on your date in the form of some mild online stalking, but know where the line is. If you’ve noticed that the person's Instagram says “proud vegan” then maybe don’t bring her to Nando's or Chicken Hut. This is a good example of doing your homework. A bad example would be asking who ‘that guy John that’s in your Instagram photo from 2015’ is? Try to avoid any detailed questions about her history with other men altogether if possible, the same goes for talking/bitching about your ex(es). Also, any weird thing that you do that the lads find hilarious, don’t do it in front of her. She won’t find it cute or hilarious, she’ll think you’re a man-child. Just be yourself and be considerate and polite.


Another pearl of wisdom, which should be common knowledge but sadly isn’t, is to be on time. “Being late tells the girl that she wasn’t enough of a priority for you to plan your day well enough to show up on time”, wrote one Instagramer. First dates are all about first impressions and 'you don’t really matter compared to the other things in my life' is not the impression you want to make on a girl you’re trying to win over. Unforeseen circumstances can happen and if they do and you’re forced to run late then call her (don’t text) and explain the situation. If she’s a reasonable person then she’ll understand and think of you as a gentleman for letting her know.


Despite literature and advice from the lads to the contrary, you do want her to think you’re a gentleman. I’ve heard it myself: “Be a bit of a dick to her, women love that”. No they don’t. Be a gentleman. Be polite to everyone, maintain eye contact, offer to get her a taxi home (to her house) and don’t try to dominate the conversation.


Having a conversation is one of the most important elements of a first date, so don’t talk a load of crap (no exaggerating, name-dropping, bragging and especially no lies) and instead go into the date with the goal of getting to know your female company. Use conversation starters and then listen to her answers. Ask follow-up questions that will help you get to know her; chances are she’ll be equally curious about you. Nothing kills a first date faster than awkward silences, so it doesn’t hurt to have some questions or conversation starters lined up to fall back on. I don’t mean overly personal stuff (remember, we're trying not to be a weirdo), more like ‘Do you like your job?’ and ‘What would be your dream job?’ or ‘Where’s the last place you went on holiday?’ and ‘If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?’ Listen to her answers and DO NOT be on your phone. If you can’t go a few hours with checking your messages/likes/Paddy Power account then you’re going to be single for another while yet. Keep the phone in your pocket as best you can and if you do have to check something then let them know why beforehand or go to the bathroom (but not so often that your date will think you have a bladder the size of a pea).


It’s also important to compliment your date. Now, I know openly complimenting your date seems risky and has the potential to go horribly wrong,  but I’ve been assured that it’s one of the most valuable first date tips any man could hear. Women want to know what we are thinking, especially if it’s something nice about them, so man up and tell her how good she looks or how much fun she is. Again though, know where the line is. If you’ve decided there and then that you’re going to marry her and make babies with her, probably keep that to yourself for now.


A lot of the replies that I received on this topic made some reference to dress sense and/or personal hygiene, which is a little bit concerning to be honest! If this girl has agreed to go out on a date with you then you need to make the effort and show her that you take pride in your appearance so that she’ll think that you’re a catch. Not smelling like the catch of the day will go a long way towards this, so for the love of God HAVE A SHOWER. You don’t need to spend hours getting ready and you definitely don’t want to be the creepy, try-hard that shows up to a pub date in a three piece suit, but you should communicate to the girl that she’s worth your time and effort. So, make sure to shower, clean your beard, brush your teeth and (I’m including this on request) go number two before you leave the house. As for the clothes, go for something you feel comfortable in because it will show. If in doubt, stick to the classics like jeans, a nice t-shirt, a blazer if you're going for dinner, Oxford shoes or Chelsea boots. No football/rugby tops.


As far as what to do for a first date, I really don’t think there’s any right answer to this. Some people want a nice dinner, some want an activity and some just want to go for coffee or an ice cream and a walk. The only bits of advice I can give here are to have a plan and tip her off to some extent so that she can dress accordingly (shout out to my friend Bryan, who I know reads this, who brought a girl in a fabulous gown to the cinema on their first date). You don’t have to break the bank either; a fancy venue can quite often make your date feel uncomfortable and intimidated. Keep it small, local and fun, but remember the gentleman rule and pay up. Sorry if this isn’t what you wanted to read, but when it comes to the bill on a first date, you should pay. It gives you the chance to say “you can pay next time” and open the second date conversation, so take it like a man and pay the bill. If she insists on splitting then so be it, but don’t let it turn into an uncomfortable moment or an argument.


If you think the first date has gone well and you’d like to see her again then don’t wait too long to arrange date number two, the “Three Day Rule” is apparently a load of rubbish. Wait until the next day, then call her or text her and keep the communication open until the next date. Again, don’t come on too strong and bombard her with calls and texts or you’ll become a story that she tells her mates for years to come. So, just call or text her once every few days and she'll know you intend to keep on seeing her (if that's what she wants too, of course!) Good luck on that second date.


Patrick McLoughney