Are you a serial First Dater, who can’t seem to lock down a second round? Paula Lyne says it’s simple if you know how...
You met a Tinder potential for dinner, had the absolute bants, and even got a cheeky goodnight kiss, but fast forward two weeks and you’ve become the victim of a ghosting so speedy even Usain Bolt wouldn’t be able to keep up. We feel your pain. So what went wrong? Was it your fault, or was there no spark, or was it something that could have been avoided?
Dating is a complicated game, but as with any part of life, there are certain strategies you can employ to give things a nudge in the right direction. We’re not suggesting you start suddenly pretending you love Nandos too when in reality you’ve been a vegetarian since you were 21, or that you go full-on The Rules and “rarely return his calls” just to keep him keen. There’s a happy medium, and it’s pretty easy to achieve once you know how to go about it.
“Think of every date as an opportunity for fun,” says Sharon Kenny, who has carved a career out of matching couples all over Ireland via her dating service, TheMatchmaker.ie. “Go into it relaxed and positive, rather than dragging yourself out the door. It’s just a way to meet someone new, so remind yourself of that if you’re feeling nervous.”
When it comes to date prep, do what feels comfortable for you. If you’re feeling a spray tan and a blowdry, go all out, but likewise if you’re at your best in skinny jeans and a tee with your hair in a masso bun, stick with that. “Don’t ever dress or act in a way that’s not you,” advises Sharon. “Yes, you want to show off your best side, but it has to be in a way that’s true to you.”
Forget outfits, conversation topics or being nice to the waiter, when it comes to making a good first impression, punctuality is your first chance to show off your good side. A first date is not the time to reveal your chronic lateness issues.
Keeping someone you don’t know waiting for 15 minutes is disrespectful on a whole host of levels, and it’s not the best foot to start a new interaction on. Pick a time to meet and stick to it. Who knows, down the line you might realise you’re both students of the ‘8ish-really-means-9pm’ school, but for now, it’s best to play it safe.
Is it a quick coffee that could turn into a long lunch, or dinner with a stop-off for a pint en route home? Is Date One sex a no-no, or something you’re open to? Having an idea in your head of how you want things to proceed on that crucial first date means you’ll (hopefully) avoid making any potentially regrettable decisions under the influence of one mid-dinner glass of wine too many.
“I’d had way too many Tinder dates turn into one-night stands after we both got drunk and went home together,” says Terri, 29, an accountant from Dublin. “Now if I’m meeting someone from Tinder or Bumble I’ll make it a lunch date, and keep the late-night pints for the second round. For me, it’s just a way of removing the ‘what if’ anxiety from a first date.”
They ALWAYS do this on First Dates, but we suspect it’s a prompt from producers. If you haven’t already learnt this the hard way, let us school you on some Date Etiquette: launching into a story about your last boyfriend’s douchebag ways isn’t going to score you any charm points, so keep your mouth zipped on that topic while it’s still early days. Sure, if you’re asked, feel free to discuss past relationships briefly, but move the conversation on. It’s simply dangerous territory on a first date.
Lisa, 31, a sales executive from Cork, says ex talk has become a date dealbreaker for her, after one particularly memorable experience. “My sister set me up with her boyfriend’s colleague, who had just ended a long-term relationship. It was definitely too soon for him to be dating, and his breakup was all he could talk about for the evening. It was more like a free counselling session than a date. Ever since then, I’m not shy about putting down the No Ex Discussion rule.”
That “treat ‘em mean” adage needs to die. If you two had a great time on your first date and you genuinely feel it could turn into something more, what better way to secure a second date than to do the asking yourself?
“If it feels natural to you, ask if he’d like to meet again,” suggests Sharon. “You have nothing to lose.” It’s a tactic that worked for Karen, 28, from Kildare. “I knew within minutes that we had an incredible connection,” she recalls of her first date with her now-partner. “We went for one drink and three hours later we were still laughing our heads off. We’d talked about a play that was on in the Dublin Fringe Festival and at the end of the date I asked him if he fancied checking it out later that week. Two years later we’re still going strong.”
Making second-date plans with someone you genuinely fancy is a great feeling, but only if you’re both on the same page when it comes to how things are going to play out. If you get the sense he’s not in this for the same things you are, or if you feel in any way pressured or intimidated, take a step back.
“The perfect relationship is the one you feel comfortable in,” says Sharon. “Be real to yourself.” Maybe you’re looking for a few months of mind-blowing orgasms with no strings attached, or maybe you’re ready to find your next “person.” Whichever it is, be clear to yourself, and don’t go along with anything you don’t feel ready for.
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s May issue. Our June issue is on shelves now!