1. Consider a low-key coffee, tea, a walk, or a drink instead of dinner
Instead of meeting for dinner on the first date, choose an activity that is potentially shorter, and more relaxed like a walk or a coffee. That way, if you realize after 45 minutes that you just aren’t compatible, you’re not committed to a longer (and potentially expensive!) dinner that may be unpleasant and awkward for both parties. If the date goes well, you can continue to cocktail or segue to dinner and continue the conversation. While it’s easy to add a snack or a bite, it’s more difficult to extricate yourself from dinner.
2. Avoid giving out your number until after the first date
Experts advise users who communicate on dating apps to avoid changing to direct text with their telephone. This is for safety reasons and because there is a high chance the date won’t materialize. Although it isn’t mannerly, the reality is that ghosting happens, and date plans sometimes aren’t finalized, texts are forgotten, or things turn platonic. So, schedule the first date directly on the dating app platform. Once you’ve met in person, and if you feel comfortable and connected, then consider exchanging numbers and/or social media platforms.
3. Set healthy boundaries – even before you meet
It’s natural to flirt via messages and conversations in the beginning stages of dating. You’re pursuing a romantic connection, after all! However, if your date is crossing boundaries and making you feel uncomfortable, politely let them know immediately. For example, if they make an advance that feels like too much too soon, express your feelings: “That makes me feel uncomfortable, could we take a step back from that please?”
4. Communicate your preferences
Share your needs and preferences early. Many times, people are concerned they will appear “needy” or “high-maintenance.” No, you are setting expectations. If your work requires you to be on virtual calls most of the day and you cannot text or call during the day, communicate this and let the other party know when you are available. If you prefer daily check-ins, even just a little text to say hi, let the person know. Are you punctual? Express your appreciation for being on time to dates. Are you constantly running late? Give your date a heads up and apologize in advance.
5. Ask for Clarification
If your date makes a comment that you don’t understand, smile, and politely ask them for an explanation. Sometimes I use humor to do this, “Educate me, can you explain, I really don’t understand?” That gives your date a chance to elaborate on the subject while you get the chance to better understand their values, perspectives on life, interest and a whole realm of other important factors while getting to know someone out in the dating wilderness.
6. Treat every date like it’s special
Okay, we know. Not every date is going to include sparks and fireworks. Sometimes it’s just plain boring or what you thought was going to be a great match turns out to be a total clash. But the important thing to remember is that every single date no matter the outcome is an opportunity for growth. You’re making a connection with another human, after all, and there’s always something to learn and something to share. Be curious, ask questions, find qualities about that person to appreciate, and after each date, even the duds. Take a moment to recognize how the experience contributes to your self-growth.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, diversity and inclusion consultant, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the Hofstede Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, received a coveted Kirkus Star and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways Intn’l Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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