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A Fun and Practical Guide to First Date Etiquette

by Editorial Team

First date etiquette is important to anybody looking to find a partner to share adventures with. But with lots of differing opinions and unspoken rules of what you should and shouldn’t do, how do you make a good impression on a first date? We’ve scoured the web and pooled our dating expertise to give singles the best information to make sure their first date is a successful one. Whether you’ve been dating a while or are looking to get back on the horse after a break, we’ve got the key tips for first date etiquette.

The First Message - Online and in Real Life

The phrase ‘first date etiquette’ can conjure up images of men in suits and ties and a date that involves bowing and curtseying. You should think about how you want to be perceived by a potential date but that doesn’t mean you have to act like royalty! Dates are meant to be fun, easy, and a way to get to know another human being. So, our first date tip for men and women is - relax!

If you’re asking someone on a date in person make sure it’s casual and carefree, express your interest, suggest something you’d mutually enjoy and be cool, calm and collected. This is the same approach you should take online. This is true for everybody, but, especially over 50 singles can fret about the perfect first opening line. But, if you show that you’ve read their profile carefully and have already struck up a conversation, then moving offline should be easy. Here’s a good example:

Hi Dave, how are you doing? I remember you mentioned you liked detective stories. I saw that there’s a new movie out next week which looks like it would be something you’d enjoy! Do you want to see it together? Here’s a link to the trailer :)

Remember to give your potential partner plenty of time! Nobody likes to be asked to do something the day of the event. It can seem last minute and you should show your date how considerate you are by asking a few days or even a week in advance.

Where Should You Go on the First Date?

We already mentioned the cinema as a potential first date option, but where else should you go on a first date?

There’s no perfect place for a first date but your choice should reflect what your date is interested in. If they’re a sports fan and you’re a newbie then why not suggest going to a match together? They can tell you all the ins and outs, which will make it easy to break the ice and rid yourself of any first date jitters.

Similarly, if they’re a bookworm, why not suggest a visit to a cute bookstore or a pretty library. Doing an activity is a great first date tip because sitting down to a stuffy dinner can make it hard to have a flowing conversation. However, always go for a coffee, drink, or dinner after your activity. You want to get to know this person after all. Once you’re a little more acquainted then a dinner can be easy, like meeting an old friend.

Here are some of our first date tips for locations:

  • Flea market
  • Bookstore
  • Cinema
  • Park or local hike
  • A local festival, fair or convention
  • Art gallery
  • Local museum
  • Walking tour
  • Cooking or wine tasting class

First Date Etiquette - On the Date Manners

In the 1997 classic Titanic, Kathy Bates shows Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio’s character which knife and fork to use during an elegant upper-class meal on the fated ship. This is could be an example of a first date etiquette problem. Do you pretend you know what you’re doing and use a dessert spoon for soup, or ask for help? On a date, there’s a pressure to have everything go perfectly but honestly, it makes the person you’re on a date with worry that they have to be perfect too. Set the scene by making your partner relax. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to make a humorous faux-pas with your cutlery but maybe check their comfort level. Regardless if you’re in a simple bar or a fancy restaurant, maybe ask if this is the sort of place they’d typically find themselves?

Here are our some more of our tips for that important first date:

Be on Time Nobody likes waiting and it’s not great if you’ve asked someone out only to show up late! If it can’t be helped, make sure you send a text with an apology and idea of when you might get there.

No Phones! Yes it’s tempting and someone might text you, but don’t look at your phone! Even replying to something quickly can be seen as disinterest in your date.

Be Honest It can be tricky to explain to someone your previous circumstances, whether you’re widowed or divorced for example. Everyone has a past though, make sure you’re honest about yours. Honesty is also important if you’re asked what you’re looking for in a relationship. If you’re looking for a long-lasting relationship, mention that you’re interested in meeting someone you can make plans with.

But Don’t Be Too Honest If you’re seeing a few people through an online dating site, don’t bring it up with your date. It’s healthy to be talking to a few people at the same time, especially in the very early stages of courting, but your current date doesn’t want to hear about it.

Yes, and! One of the biggest issues with dating comes from not knowing the other person very well. This can make it seem like one of you is always waiting for the other person to talk. An improv technique can come in handy here. It’s called ‘yes, and’ - it’s a to make sure you really listen to your date and acknowledge what they’ve told you. How does it work? Simple. After your date finishes telling you something, you then talk about that specific point (YES) and then respond with your own story or anecdote (AND) that relates to it.

Plan to Pay It’s 2018, which means that women don’t expect men to pay their bill anymore. Typically, people split the bill or if one person offers to pay then you can choose to accept. This part of a date can get really awkward if you’re not careful. If you really want to pay the bill then do so with grace and suggest that they pay next time, a witty way to set up a second date and an acknowledgement of modern dating rules.

To Kiss or Not to Kiss? That is the Question

Movies and television have taught us that a kiss goodbye is the perfect way to end a date, but is that always the case? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question. The best first date etiquette we recommend is to air on the side of caution. If you’ve had a good time with your date but you’re not sure if the spark is there, then an attempted kiss that fails can be tricky to come back from. But, if sparks have been flying constantly then not attempting a kiss can be seen as by your partner as a lack of interest. A kiss on the cheek is our best bet, if you’re feeling gentlemanly then a kiss on the hand can be a fun way to express your feelings as well. When in doubt, just ask! It’s perfectly fine to ask ‘I’d like to kiss you, may I?’

After the First Date Etiquette

To text or not to text, that is the question. Oh, damn, we already used our Shakespeare analogy in the last paragraph - well it’s still an important question. Should you wait a few hours, a few days, a few weeks? Game playing isn’t on trend anymore, people have busy lives and adventures to go on, so don’t hold them up!

If you’re interested then a text after the date can be a great way to show interest and your partner will appreciate your enthusiasm.

Hey Sarah. Just wanted to say I had a really fun time tonight, can’t get over how great that pasta was! Let me know if you’d like to do it again, next week would be perfect for me.

If you’re not interested or don’t think your goals match up, don’t play around. Wait until the next day and send a thoughtful text. Hi Sarah. It was lovely to meet you last night but I think we’re better off as friends. I’d like to meet up platonically if you’d be interested? Hope you’re well.

Don’t shut the door to opportunity, even if you didn’t think a date could be romantic in the future it doesn’t mean you can’t make a new friend!

Modern Dating Rules - Where to Start?

Dating is a great way to try new things, meet new people, and potentially meet someone you can share adventures with. If you want to start dating, but you’re not sure where to start then join SilverSingles.

Online dating is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t discover in everyday life and it’s become increasingly popular with singles over 50. So why is SilverSingles the best place to start with online dating? Because SilverSingles is a dating service designed and created with older singles in mind. It’s simple to use, you can date on the go with our app and we do most of the heavy lifting for you! We pair compatible singles using a matchmaking process in a safe and secure environment.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today.

Editorial Team

About the author: Editorial Team

Bringing you the very latest dating trends, relationship advice and news from Inside SilverSingles, the Editorial Team are on hand to guide you through the online dating game...

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