How to get your date off to a great start

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So, you've aced the initial online messaging side of things and have bagged yourself a hot date. Now it's time to meet in real life where you can't hide behind your keyboard or ask your mates for help constructing pithy, flirty one-liners. It's down to you to make a great first impression and get that date off to a flying start. But don't worry, this doesn't mean you need to be as impressive and charming as a Beyonce/Tom Hiddleston hybrid. Just follow these few simple tips and you'll be having a fabulous time before you've even realised it.

Make an effort with your appearance (but not so much that you feel weird)

It's important that you look good, but 'making an effort with your appearance' shouldn't be confused with 'dressing up like you're going to the 6th form leaver's ball'. If you're the type of person who wears a sharp suit or fancy dress every day of the week then that is what you should stick with, but if you spend most of your time in jeans and a plaid shirt, then getting super dressed up is only going to make you feel uncomfortable. Choose an outfit that looks tidy but helps you feel like you, as being relaxed will make the best impression of all.

Be on time

This is basic stuff, but being late is the ultimate in making your date feel like you just don't care enough. Of course, you could be beset by all sorts of disasters on your way to meet them, from a delayed train to a 'What the hell am I wearing?!' freak out, but build these possibilities into your schedule and leave a nice big buffer of time to absorb any disasters. It's much better to be way too early than rudely late.

Doing an activity can really break the ice

When we say activity, we're not suggesting you spend your first date learning how to knit tea cosies (though why the heck not?!), but it is worth considering whether having something to do might be helpful.. If you're used to a first date scenario that involves staring at a stranger across a table and panic-drinking yourselves into oblivion, you might like to try something a little different. Meeting in a museum or art gallery, for example, gives you something to look at and talk about apart from each other, which can ease the pressure of a first meeting.

Be inquisitive

If you're nervous, asking your date questions about themselves helps to take the spotlight off you and will enable you to relax and warm up a bit. It is also an attractive trait, as no one wants to spend an evening (or, indeed, the rest of their life) with someone who talks about themselves incessantly and shows no interest in others. Being inquisitive about the other person is another incredibly basic tip, but it's surprising how many people think the purpose of a date is to sell themselves rather than find out about someone else.

Focus on having a good time now, not on your desired outcome

If you arrive to your date with your head full of dreams about how this person could be The One that you marry, start a family and fulfil your dreams of opening an organic avocado farm in New Zealand with, you're going to have a less successful date then if you just turn up hoping to have a bit of laugh for a couple of hours. We all have ideas about how we'd like our lives to pan out, but if you immediately project them onto everyone you meet, you're giving them an awful lot to live up to, which just isn't fair. Concentrate on just having a nice time on your first date, rather than hoping for it to be the beginning of your elaborately constructed happy-ever-after fantasy.

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