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    Whether it’s your first date with another woman, ever, or your first date in a little while, it’s totally normal to have first-date jitters. Here’s how to keep your first date with anyone smooth, relaxed, and anxiety-free.

    Remember: It’s Just a Date

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    Sure, there are first dates that can sweep you off your feet. But 99% of the time, a first date is just a way to spend some time getting to know each other to see if you want to spend more time getting to know each other. Show up as your best self, and focus on being yourself and learning more about her, and not on getting her to like you. First dates are meant to be relaxed, straightforward, and a little exciting, because you’re getting to know another person and figuring out whether you have any chemistry together. Approach your date with a positive mindset and an open mind.

    Be on Time

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    Show that you respect their time and yours by showing up on time. If your first date is over video, test your set-up the day before and adjust any lighting or background issues well in advance. If it’s in person, check out your meeting place online and figure out whether you need to make a reservation, what the travel time is, any parking considerations, and any other logistical issues in advance. On the day of your date, consider sending her a courtesy text when you’re on your way.

    Keep It Light

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    Unless you meet through your mutual involvement in neighborhood politics, heavy topics like religion and politics have no place on a first date. Neither does talking incessantly about your ex, family drama, or childhood trauma. Stick to topics like work, passions, and hobbies. Once you get to know each other more, you can move on to discussing deeper topics.

     

    It’s also fine to generally talk about what you’re looking for in a partner. For instance, if you’re non-monogamous, trying to have children in the next few years, or considering selling all your possessions and moving to the country, discussing that early on to make sure you’re on the same page can give you a better chance at finding a compatible match. 

    Ask Questions

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    Asking good questions is something of an art form. You want to find out more about something you’re curious about, and to demonstrate your interest in your date, without coming across as intrusive or inappropriate. 

     

    Specific questions on something your date just said can show you’re listening. Just make sure to also share something about yourself so she doesn’t feel like she’s being interrogated. 

     

    General questions can be a way to keep the conversation going. Do you believe in astrology? What do you like to do in your free time? What are you watching/reading/listening to lately? Do you have any pets? What’s the next city you want to travel to? What’s your favorite restaurant in this city? Do you have any plans you’re excited about this season? Would you rather go to the desert or the ocean? What do you do to unwind? If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do? What song do you have on repeat right now?

     

    Either way, don’t force it. Let the conversation unfold naturally and see where it leads.

    Resist Your Phone

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    This should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: be present. These days some people often use their phone as a social crutch when they’re too nervous to interact with the people around them. Others are worker bees who are always responding to work-related emails and text messages. But isolating yourself while you’re on a date is a BIG red flag unless it’s an emergency. (That one viral tweet is not an emergency.) Your Instagram feed and client emails can wait at least two hours. By keeping off your phone and being present with your date, you’re showing that you are serious about learning more about them.

    Pick up the Check

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    While it’s fairly common for couples to go Dutch when it comes to paying the check, offer to pick it up and be prepared to follow through. (If you’re having an online date but both ordering from the same restaurant, offer to order and buy it for her in advance.) Doing so makes it clear that this wasn’t just a dinner between two friends and that you’re serious about your romantic intentions.

    Text Her Back

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    If you like her, text her. If you had a great time on your date and want to see her again, say so. You don’t have to wait three days. 

     

    On the other hand, if you had a not-great time on your date and are glad you got to connect but want to leave it at that, say so. It’s better to be direct than to ghost, and being up front and respectful might be uncomfortable in the moment but will be better for both of you in the long run. 

     

    To have a successful first date, you just need to show up as your best self, be yourself, and not worry too much about what happens next. Whether or not you see each other again is secondary. Besides, practice makes perfect.