Asking someone out for the first time can be intimidating. There’s a bit of uncertainty, perhaps a little fear of rejection, and certainly some excitement. And while you’re experiencing all these feelings, you need to decide on a place to meet. Like many others, you probably considered having your first date in a bar. With good reason: it’s less daunting than a two-hour dinner, you’ll be able to interact more than in a movie theater, and a bit of Dutch courage will make your conversation less awkward. But while this is a nice, safe bet, you’ll still want to avoid faux-pas and ensure you leave your date with a favorable impression of you.
The following tips will help you get there.
Sure, discovering new places can be a bit stressful. Any place you’re unfamiliar with will have an aura of unknown about it. That could make you uneasy and add some tension to a first date. So, you might try to mitigate that stress by going to a bar you’re already familiar with.
However, that could be a problem too.
First, if you go to your usual hangout, you could have acquaintances there. Do you really want to have your date interrupted every time someone comes say “hi”? What if a friend lingers at your table? You could be forced into an awkward conversation instead of getting to know your date better.
Plus, there is always the risk of someone revealing embarrassing moments of your past. Or asking about your ex-partner. “Hey, I haven’t seen Kerry in a while. Are you still together?” Imagine that.
Then there is another risk with overfamiliarity. If you bring several different dates to the same place, your current date could feel, ahem, less-than-special. Some bartenders are quite good with faces. It’s part of their job after all. And if you’ve been going to their bar regularly, they might well remember you. Even if they are on your side, they could let it slip inadvertently that you were at their bar not long ago. With someone else.
Again, not the best look on a first date.
When you’re meeting a romantic interest from a dating site, your first date is also going to be the first time they see you in real life. You’ll need to make the right first impression. This means you’ll have to put some thought into the place you bring your date to.
Start by crossing out dive bars. You’re not going out with your buddy from high school. Also eliminate high-end bistros. While you want to woo your date, you don’t want to look like you are trying too hard. So, opt to go to a bar where you can wear nice clothes that make you look good, but not too stiff.
Once your mind is set on a few places, rule out the ones that are too noisy. You’re going there first and foremost to interact with your companion, not shout at them. Likewise, it might be good to stay away from places that are too popular. At busy times you might have to stand in line or wait outside to be seated. You’ll have nothing to keep you busy. You won’t have a drink to sip on during awkward lulls in the conversation. Having a relaxed chat in this context won’t impossible, but it will be unnecessarily harder.
Finally, if you have time to fine-tune your research even more, focus on the atmosphere. Avoid places with too many distractions. You want to focus on the person sitting with you, not on the TV or the gentleman singing karaoke off-key. Choose somewhere with warm lighting. You’ll look much better than under bright neon lights. Preferably a place that serves some light food so your night won’t be cut short because your date got hungry. Plus, having some snacks will give you something to do with your hands if you get too nervous. Two birds. One stone.
You could even score a few bonus points by researching in advance what’s good on the menu, and letting your date know about it.
Getting nervous before a date is completely normal, even more so if it’s the first time you meet someone. You might be tempted to calm your nerves by having a few drinks before your date arrives. Though it will help you relax, it could also leave a bad first impression. When your date shows up, you want the first thing they smell to be your perfume or your freshly laundered clothes, not your last drink.
Similarly, know when to stop ordering. One or two drinks should be enough to get the conversation flowing and make the moment very enjoyable. Anything over that increases your risk of becoming less articulate and in control. In fact, keeping the date short and sweet might be better. It guarantees you won’t run out of conversation topics, which means you’ll both feel more excited to go on a second date.
And your date won’t think you are an alcoholic, which is always a bonus.
But going to a bar for a first date is more than simply paying attention to your alcohol consumption. It should be enjoyable and fun. So, if you usually order bottom shelf spirits and house wine, feel free to try some nice cocktail or a fancy craft beer instead. It will also encourage the person you are with to enjoy their night in the same way. No need to order an overly complicated drink either. Just order something nice that makes your night a little more special. Your bartender will be happy to make it.
Be nice to them. Actually, you should be nice to all the staff, from the coat check attendant to the wait staff. How you treat people in service positions reflects who you are and your value system. Your date might be paying attention to that. In the same vein, if they are kind to the wait staff, they are probably kind to everyone. Take that as your cue to ask them on a second date.
And of course, remember to tip the bartender and have a plan for the bill. Bring some cash too, in case the bar does not take cards. If you want to treat your date, do so naturally. Do they ask to split the bill and go Dutch? let them. And should they insist on paying, graciously accept. Money, and arguing about money, should not be the last thing your date remembers from their time with you.
If done right, they will remember they had their first date with you in a bar, and that it was awesome. Now go out. And make it happen.
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