5 Science-Backed First Date Tips 

couple picknick on a field next to flowers the men smiling down on the women who lays down

Going on a first date can be nerve-wracking. You’re meeting the other person for the first time and you have a rough idea of who they are, or so you think. Things could go great… Or not, right?

We don’t blame you for overthinking this. Dating isn’t easy.

If you’ve decided to put yourself out there to meet someone you’ve been talking to for a while, congratulations! Here are five science-backed first date tips to help you ace that first date with confidence.

1. Look groomed and healthy

Young man smiling at his laptop while holding a sports mat under his arm

When you meet someone for the first time, you have about 27 seconds to make a good first impression on your date even before you speak.

From that same study, the top three factors that formed a bad first impression were: smelling bad, being arrogant, or dressing poorly. If you don’t already take grooming and freshening yourself up seriously, then this is your sign to do so.

Research also shows that both genders find physical indicators of sexual health desirable in a person. These indicators include shiny hair, clear skin and bright eyes.

So if you want to make a good first impression, wash your hair, freshen up, and slap on a little moisturizer. You don’t have to put on a facade, but looking like you actually put some effort into your appearance would definitely add a tick or two in your date’s books.

2. Watch your body language

Couple sitting in lawn chairs while drinking iced tea and chatting
You don’t have to be overly cautious with your actions. But if you want to appear more likeable, there are certain postures that you can adopt to make yourself more attractive to your date. The first action is mirroring, which is copying the actions and behavior of the other party. So if they shift, smile, or cross their arms, you do the same. This is a common technique used by salespersons and in job interviews to signal trust and rapport. When you mirror someone’s actions, you show empathy by showing that you’re putting yourself in their shoes. This immediately helps to build a sense of connectedness. If you feel awkward about copying someone’s actions, try turning your feet towards them instead. This means that when you talk to them, ensure that your whole body is facing them to convey interest. Your feet have been said to be the compass of the body, so besides taking you to places, it also signals the intention of where you might want to go next. Besides watching where your feet point, watching where your date points their feet is also a good indicator of how the date is going.

3. Have something sweet

Couple eating ice cream together and walking outside
If you’re looking for a date location, consider choosing an ice cream parlor or order desserts at the end of your meal. An interesting study found that its participants had a greater interest in initiating a relationship with the other party when exposed to sweet tastes. While we can’t guarantee your date will be ready for a relationship after one caramel sundae, we’d like to think that ice cream on a date or at the end of a date is never a bad thing, right?

4. Put yourself out there

Psychology studies found that individuals are perceived to be more likeable after they make a mistake, this is known as the Pratfall effect.

This means that you shouldn’t stress out too much about being the perfect date because it is likely that your mistakes and imperfections will make you seem more human and likeable.

But make sure that the slip-ups aren’t happening all the time, and that you’ve established a decent amount of rapport first to avoid seeming unreliable.

Another study found that to be seen in a positive light, you can share personal information about yourself, instead of hiding it. Even if the information is potentially embarrassing.

We take this to mean that there is power in being vulnerable, in sharing stories about yourself and in putting yourself out there if you want to connect with your date. However, we’d be cautious about sharing too many embarrassing stories – you’d want to also hear some of theirs.

5. Show an interest in them

Happy couple having picnic on a sunny day

This brings us to our next point. You can apply all our tips so far, but that’s only half the work. You’ll also need to show interest in them.

Science backs this up. There is a phenomenon known as reciprocity of liking where people think positively of others when they know that these individuals have also expressed positive opinions of them.

So in short, show your appreciation for them and that could, in turn, cause them to have an interest in you before the night ends. Of course, you should be genuine and only do so if that’s how you really feel.

The unpredictability of a first date situation can often unnerve even the most seasoned daters because you can’t quite tell how a date is ever going to go until you’re on the date itself.

If you’ve been having butterflies in your stomach or thinking about canceling that upcoming first date because it’s been too long since your last date, we hope we’ve managed to convince you, with the help of science, how you can make it a more enjoyable first date for the both of you.

Sarah C.

Sarah C.

Sarah C. is a writer from Singapore, who runs on caffeine. She loves a good rom-com and considers 10 Things I Hate About You her all-time favorite. Her dating pet peeves are those who are rude to waiters, and those who can't stop looking at their phones.

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