Our Editor Swears This First Date Routine Prevents Bad Dates

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Source: @polina-tankilevitch | Pexels
Source: @polina-tankilevitch | Pexels

Not to sound like the worst person ever, but I don’t think I’ve ever been on a truly “bad” first date. Sure, I’ve been on plenty of first dates that have not resulted in second dates. Yes, I’ve lived through the awkward pauses that come along with meeting someone for the first time. I’ve even been on first dates with people I genuinely disliked by the time the date was over. But I’ve never been on a first date that I hated purely in the experience itself, and I owe that entirely to my first date routine.

If you’re in a dating rut, are sick of first dates, or are feeling nervous about getting back out there, a great first-date routine can make all the difference in changing your attitude. Read on for the first date routine that has gotten me through the good, the not-so-good, and the swoon-worthy.

Hang out with a friend earlier in the day

If there is one lesson you take from this article, let it be this: having a first date be the only social interaction you have planned in your day is a surefire way to absolutely hate said first date. As someone who spends most of her weekdays sitting alone at her computer click-clacking away, my social time is sacred to me. Thus, in order to ensure that I have a positive social day overall, I always make plans with a friend sometime during the day before going on a first date.

There are so many pros to grabbing coffee or lunch with a friend before you go out to drinks with a complete stranger: You have the opportunity to express your excitement and anxieties to a supportive person, you can get your mind off of the date by listening to the details of your friend’s life, and you will almost definitely leave the conversation with some general pop-culture talking points you can bring up when you’re trying to make conversation with this new person later on. If an in-person hang isn’t an option, at least make time for a quick FaceTime.

Eat something before the date.

Before you totally cringe at this one, hear me out. I always eat before a first date, but not because I want to eat less on the date itself to seem dainty or more attractive in some way that caters to icky patriarchal standards. No, I always eat because I suffer from severe hangriness. If I show up ravenous, there is absolutely zero chance that I am going to enjoy the company of the person who is trying to make small talk with me while we wait for our food. To be fair to my date (and myself), I never show up hungry.

Choose a getting-ready playlist that makes you feel like a badass.

This one may seem obvious, but a getting-ready playlist that makes you feel super confident before a first date is absolutely crucial. The key here is to curate a playlist that is specific to what makes you feel amazing about yourself, no matter how strange or out there it may be. I love Beyoncé, but my first date playlist consists mainly of Grimes—no judgment here. Blast your playlist while you put on your makeup or outfit and feel yourself get more confident with each verse.

Wear a similar outfit every time.

Not to get all Steve Jobs on you, but in my days of first dating, I’ve found that a “uniform” makes a big difference. Of course, this looks different with each season—in the winter I go for a bodysuit, leather pants, and heeled boots, while I opt for a floral dress and sneakers in the summertime—but the idea is the same. This is a tip that TikTok star and author Eli Rallo emphasized heavily in her interview on The Everygirl Podcast—according to her, having a uniform formula in mind or simply putting on a specific sweater that makes you feel great can help you feel more comfortable and confident, especially on first dates. When I wear my first date uniform, I know for sure that I’ll be focusing on what the other person is actually saying, rather than worrying over whether my outfit was the wrong choice or not.

In choosing a uniform, go for something that emulates your three style words, something that you know reflects you at your core. Prioritize comfort, so that you don’t find yourself awkwardly fidgeting with your clothes during the date, and think about what you know makes you feel good rather than an outfit that you think other people will find attractive on you. After all, this is all about giving the person a sneak peek at your truest, most authentic self.

Have a first date affirmation (or two).

As cheesy as it sounds, the first date affirmation that has changed my life is “It’s not about whether they like you, it’s about whether you like them.” Has this affirmation evidently made me pickier, given the sheer number of first dates I’ve been on? Probably, but it’s also guaranteed that I stay in the dating game because I rarely feel discouraged if a second one doesn’t happen—usually, in that case, we both didn’t feel a spark. Eli Rallo also emphasized this on her episode of The Everygirl Podcast as a key tip for staying confident through the ups and downs of the dating world. “Remember that you’re in charge, that you have a choice, you have agency, and you are also on that first date with that other person,” she said.

I also love to remind myself that a first date is about doing a fun thing with a new person, and nothing more. This mindset takes away the pressure of the whole “finding your soulmate” or even “finding your next relationship.” It doesn’t matter when you write, say, or think your first date affirmation— just make sure that it’s a mindset that is helpful for you, makes you feel confident, and that you internalize the message. If it makes you feel excited about the experience of going on a date in general, the affirmation is doing its job.