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First date etiquette – the dos and don’ts

14 April 2015

Improve your chances of online dating success with this handy guide to first date etiquette and get up to speed on the dos and don’ts of your first date.

First date etiqutte

It might have been a while since you went on a first date – or any date at all – and there’s few situations harder to navigate with ease. First impressions count, so it's good to get into the right mindset and avoid some behaviour that can be off putting to a new date. The most important thing to remember is not to worry. For more first date advice, read on.

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What to do on the first date

Do make sure you look your best

We don't mean you need to spend hours at the beauty salon before a date, but when you're meeting someone new, first impressions count. Iron your outfit and make sure it's in great condition, wash and style your hair and adorn yourself with extra wit and charm. Your inner beauty needs to shine, too.

Do share your strong points, not your weaknesses

We all have things about ourselves we aren’t particularly happy with, but it's never a good idea to share these on your very first date with someone new. They're still trying to see everything that’s great about you.

Do talk about yourself and ask questions

When dating over 50, one thing you will definitely have is a whole heap of brilliant stories. Keep things lighthearted and fun and don't hold back from talking about all the wonderful things that make you, you. Remember to ask questions, too: “How about you?” “What do you think about that?” “What are your views on this?” are all enticing additions to your sparkling monologues.

Do have an open mind about your date

There’s a chance your date might not be quite what you expected, but don't let this put you off. Some people might be shy, or perhaps a little self-conscious. Be kind and considerate until your date feels more comfortable, you never know who's hiding behind a shy exterior. If nothing else, they could become a great new friend.

Do be your true, authentic self

It's all very well being confident, engaging and fun on a first date – we all love to make a good impression. But honesty and authenticity count for a lot. Do make sure you're sharing your real self with your date and not some glorified version you'll never be able to keep up.

Find out what NOT to ask on a first date

What not to do on your first date

Don’t choose a contentious location

You might have your youthful eye on that heavy metal rock concert, or that restaurant that serves absolutely everything deep-fried with garlic, but a first date should be somewhere on relatively mutual ground. Go somewhere you know will appeal to you both. A coffee shop or bar is usually a safe bet for a first date. You never know, play your cards right and your second date might be the perfect time to eat garlic and dance to heavy metal!

Don’t spend all the time on your phone

It can be tempting to check in with friends and family while you're on a date, if only to reassure them that the person you're out with isn't crazy! That’s fine, but then it’s time to put that phone away. Spending too much time on your gadgets will come across as rude and disinterested.

Don't talk about your ex

It might be tempting, especially if you've been widowed, or you've just come out of a long marriage or relationship, but there's a time and a place for sharing such intimate details with someone new and it’s not on the first date.

Don't unload you baggage

As well as avoiding discussing your ex, avoid unloading your emotional baggage. If you have problems with your work, family or health don't dwell on them, it's expecting a lot of someone you only just met to be acting as your therapist and it can be draining. Keep it light, for now.

Don’t dominate the conversation

You might find you have a lot to say on a first date and that’s great. But there's nothing more off-putting than being on a date with someone who never stops talking, especially about themselves. Ask as many questions as you're asked and be interested, as well as interesting. If you find yourself with a shy or quiet date be sure to allow them time to talk.

Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable

First dates are opportunities to talk, talk and talk some more, but there's always the potential to meet someone who isn't quite as interesting/charming/wonderful as you first thought. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, don’t hesitate to make your excuses and leave.

For more first date tips and inspiration, check out our guide to dating ice breakers, with plenty of tips to get the conversation going.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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