10 first date 'rules' everyone needs to follow.

In my early 20s, I identified as a serial dater. Meaning that I just went on a lot of dates. I had a few relationships, some situationships and a whole heap of first dates

Now, as an older and wiser 27-year-old, I don't go on as many first dates as I used to and instead have taken on a promotion into a dating advisor role for all of my friends. I don't want to toot my own horn (except that I do) but I have a wealth of knowledge and tried and tested strategies when it comes to first dates.

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Going on a first date can be scary, intimidating and anxiety-ridden. What if they don't like you? What if they look different to their photos? What if you have nothing to talk about? What if they're scary?  

These are all the questions I get from my friends when they're looking for a little pep talk before going on a first date. 

Luckily for them (and now you), I have 10 strict rules when it comes to first dates that have always worked for my friends and me and also help put our little anxious minds at ease, leading up to a first date. 

If you or someone you know is currently in the dating pool, share these 10 rules with them:

1. Meet in a public place.

This one is purely for safety reasons. A lot of people love casually dating. If you just want to hook up with someone and never see them again that is absolutely fine — Just meet them in a public place first. 


You can grab a drink with them beforehand, make some small talk and then once you're comfortable in their presence, move to a more private location. 

2. Let at least one other person know about the date.

Following on from rule number one — make sure at least one other person knows you're going on a date. If you end up in an unsafe situation, there should be someone in your life who should know the following:

  • The name of your date and what they look like.
  • Where and when you were planning on meeting them.
  • If you got home safe either that night or the next day.

For ease, I have a few of my closest friends on the Find My Friends option on my iPhone so they know where I am in real time and can track if I go to different locations. 

3. Confirm a venue and book. 

Now that we're all taking measures to keep ourselves safe, let's get into some practical tips. 

The initial meeting of the first date is awkward. It's fine, don't stress out, it passes fairly quickly. This is why it's important to confirm a venue and place. There's nothing worse than trying to multitask getting to know your date while you wait in a queue to get into a bar, resulting in everyone else in the queue also getting to know your date. Or, not confirming a venue so you both are aimlessly walking around trying to make small talk while keeping an eye out for an open space. Find a place that takes bookings so you're secured. 

4. Get there first.

I always make sure I get there a bit earlier than my date especially if we're meeting at a spot I haven't been to before. I like to get a lay of the land by seeing where the bathrooms are located, what the menu looks like and getting to choose where I want to sit. It puts my mind at ease and makes me comfortable in the environment. 


5. Wear something that you feel confident in but make sure you can sit in it.

There's nothing wrong with wearing your best fit for a first date, in fact, I encourage it. I just have one tip — make sure it's "sitting down" friendly. There have been too many times when I've worn tight jeans or skirts without doing the sit-down test beforehand and ended up sitting at a table feeling very uncomfortable. There was also this one time I wore a polyester dress to a bar and I slipped right off the barstool onto the floor... but that was a one-off incident (I hope). 

6. Don't agree to dinner or a meal.

What's worse than being stuck in the middle of a horrible first date? Being stuck in the middle of a horrible first date for two hours. For a first date, no matter how well I vibe with them beforehand I always suggest either drinks or a coffee. This way, if you're not having a good time you can easily get out of it by saying something like, "Sorry I can't stay for long, I'm meeting a friend for dinner after this." 

If you're enjoying yourself then after drinks you can say, "Do you want to grab a bite after this?" The issue with agreeing to have dinner with them before you meet them is that you can't use that excuse to slip out early and even worse, you're stuck with them for at least two hours, if not more. Not fun.

7. Text the day of to re-confirm and text when you're there.

I always get the most anxious on the day of the date. Confirming with your date that you're definitely going to see them that day as well as asking them to let you know when they arrive at the venue helps so much with those "what if" thoughts. 

8. Ask follow-up questions

It's not an interview, it's a date. We've been taught to take turns asking and answering questions, but that's boring. Ask them follow-up questions to show you're interested. I've learnt that if you fake being interested in the beginning, you naturally become interested in them and the questions and conversation will just flow from there. 


9. Always expect to pay.

I'm a big believer that on first dates, whoever asked who out on the date, should pay. If you're at a bar, then you both take turns shouting each other drinks. I never expect my date to cover me no matter what. 

There are many free options when it comes to dating like going for a walk or hanging out at a park. If your date suggests a place you know you know you can't afford, suggest somewhere else. 

10. Don't put rules around intimacy before you meet them.

I advise all my friends to not give themselves rules around intimacy before they even meet your date. There have been too many people who say "I never have sex on the first date" or "I only have sex on the 5th date".

You definitely should be comfortable doing whatever you want when it comes to sex, but what if you and your date get along well and you want to have sex with them on the first date? Or, what if you've had five dates and you're still not sure so want to wait a little longer? Putting in rules for sex when dating just for the sake of it takes away all the fun. 

If you think that someone won't want to see you again because you "put out" on the first date then it's their loss and their problem and you don't want to be dating someone like that anyway. 

Happy dating and good luck! 

If you want more opinions and advice from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature image: Canva.

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