first date

Got a first date lined up and feeling frightened?


Meeting someone in person, face-to-face, for the very first time is scary. There are no two ways about it, getting together when you’ve only ever interacted via phone or email before is nerve-wracking, fear-inducing torment.


However, there are ways to manage the fear, to make the meeting better and, what is more, to get over the terror in seconds and just relax into enjoying your first date.


Give them your full attention…


Focus entirely on your date: this could be silently repeating their name in you head before you meet in order to ensure you don’t slip up and utter your ex’s name. You should also concentrate on what they are saying, make eye contact and try to make them feel more at ease.


Give them a grin!


Get over initial nerves by smiling. It’s welcoming for your date and it makes you feel better and more in control too. Not to mention, nothing is more attractive than a brilliant, beaming, full-on smile. Just make sure you brushed your teeth before you went out!


Meditate your way out of nervy situations!


Calm wobbly nerves, shaking hands and sweaty palms with some simple relaxation exercises. Breath in through your mouth for seven seconds, then out through your nose for seven seconds. Visualize yourself as bright, bubbly and confident before your date. Picture the scene when you meet for the first time and have a run through in your imagination to make sure you don’t stumble or say something weird.


How do you act on dates?

We all know that if you have an intense fear of heights plus trust issues, then going on a bungee jump for your first date is quite likely to literally make or break the beginnings of your new relationship. After all, if its likely you’re going to be mentally (or physically) scarred by the date, chances are it doesn’t bode well for any future between the two of you.
However, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is supremely helpful when venturing into the dating pool. You have the power to line up events to suit you so that you will be at your most confident, self-assured and ready to feel that spark – if it exists.
Why would you not take the opportunity to work out your dating character so you can leave the rest up to fate?

First, you have to work out your default dating style.

a) Noisy & rambling

Do you find yourself laughing louder than usual, embarking on long anecdotes and loosing track of what you were talking about mid-way through?
If you react to tension by getting louder, speaking faster or just speaking for the sake of filling the silence, then now is the time to act. Start practicing pacing your speech, keep on track of what you are saying and slow it down as you speak. You just need to calm down and then you will act more yourself. Make sure to breathe between sentences and try posing questions instead of running through anecdotes.

b) Intense & interrogative

Do you pile the pressure on your date, willing them to be ‘The One’? Do you delve right in at the deep end and start talking life goals, baby names and favorite hymns for the wedding before the aperitif?
Chill out! Even if the person you are sitting across from is ‘The One’, they are going to be so freaked out by your heavy-weight approach they will run screaming from the building at the first opportunity. Try and relax into your date, appreciate it as a way to experience someone new’s approach to things. Make an effort to listen to them and ask pertinent questions about their stories – don’t just ask to see their medical history forms and their CV, this is not meant to be a job interview.

c) Shy & quiet

Do you clam up when faced with a new person? Does your conversation become reduced to nods and shakes of the head and some nervous smiling?
If you’re shy, you will already be aware of what an issue it can be when it comes to meeting new people. The cure is practice! Don’t fall back on a shot of Dutch courage before your date, instead try to talk through with yourself why you are nervous. Be brave and just go for it – have some pre-prepared questions to ask when your mind goes blank and then just concentrate on listening to the other person. When they start asking you questions, try and answer in full sentences instead of one-word bursts.

d) Terrified & shaking

If you are honestly scared of even meeting your date, there are several things you can do to calm your nerves. Firstly, arrange to meet in a public place. Secondly, maybe keep it casual the first one or two times you meet by both agreeing to take a friend with you and double dating. Learn some deep breathing exercises (in through the mouth, out through the nose) that will force your body to calm down and stop shaking. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

e) Calm & positive

Well look at you! If you can approach a new date feeling this zen, you are doing very well.
However, be careful that you are not so relaxed that you appear uninterested or indecisive. Make sure you still engage with your date by asking questions, listening to what they have to say and helping to make any decisions, like what to order for dessert. If they end up driving the conversation, they won’t feel as if they had a good date at the end of the evening.
Now you know how you act during a date, you are ready to implement some changes to ensure you are more confident and more ready to connect with the person you are meeting. After that, its just a matter of taking every opportunity available to you to experience that melding of minds and chemistry that signals a real relationship potential.

We’ve all been there. Freshly arrived at your date venue, waiting for your, as yet unmet, internet date to wander suavely through the door and greet you.


They enter. They seem to be normal. They look like their profile picture. They smile and kiss you on the cheek to say hello. Thus, they have lured you into falsely having hope that maybe, just maybe, they will be The One.


Then it happens. Something about them, during the course of your date will be revealed and you will fixate on it. I mean, obsess. Completely and utterly be unable to remove it from your mind. The date will end and you will go home disappointed and ready to tell anyone who will listen about, well, that thing. What was it again? You know it was something awful…


Are you guilty of this behavior? Working yourself up to meet a person you connected with on Free and Single, only to convince yourself it could never work as a relationship within the first thirty minutes due to some indefinable characteristic? I don’t suppose you are just being picky, are you?


We all have little things that annoy us. For me, its the sound of people eating with their mouth open. Bleurgh. If a date lacked basic table manners or grammatical ability, I’d immediately downgrade them from ‘Possible Mate’ to ‘No way, Jose!’


So, in order to help us make a favourable first impression, I have a little list of no-nos that could be the difference between thirty minutes and thirty dates.

What not to do on a first date

Top Ten List of What NOT to do on a Date

  1. Leaving your coat/hat/gloves on during your posh dinner for no apparent reason.
  2. Not knowing when to stop drinking and having to be carried home or put into a taxi which charges extra in case you throw up on the upholstery.
  3. Talking exhaustively about your ex, your relationship, what went wrong, how you could have done better and ending by sobbing uncontrollably. (Hint: You’re not ready to date yet!)
  4. Berating the waiter, maitre’d, hostess, manager, or indeed, anyone at all is bad manners.
  5. Picking your nose, burping loudly, farting, dribbling, or any other private bodily functions should remain private. At least until your thirtieth wedding anniversary.
  6. Ordering lots of food, sending it back to the kitchen, getting continual refills, eating everything in sight and then patting your pockets at the end of the meal with a ‘Sorry, left my card at home!’
  7. Talking of ordering, let your date order for themselves unless they expressly ask you to do it for them. There is nothing more annoying than someone you have just met choosing your meal for you.
  8. Top up drinks unless you have both agreed. (Also see No. 2). No-one wants to be pressured into drinking more than they feel comfortable with, or feel forced into matching you drink for drink, even if you can down twenty pints with no ill effect. (Ha!)
  9. Start an interrogation. Medical history, past relationships, daily routines and dietary activity are all subjects that have no place at the first date table.
  10. Stand them up. No matter how nervous you are, or how much you are immediately convinced on catching a glimpse of them at the bar that they hold no interest for you, never, never,  stand someone up. You are not to hurt someone who is just out, putting themselves on the line and looking for love, same as you. Always give them a chance. Always.


I’m holding an impromptu survey – right here, right now. Hands up who meets more people when you leave the house having made an effort with your appearance vs. leaving the house to grab some milk or walk the dog with zero effort?


I’m intrigued to discover if this is a phenomenon that occurs only to me. If I select a nice outfit, slick on some make-up, do something with my hair – all confidence boosting manouvres that should help make me more attractive to the opposite sex – then I will see no-one I know, meet no-one new and probably sigh over the wasted effort when I return home.



However, if I slink out the doors at 10am, in jeans and a coat thrown over my hoodie, not a scrap of make-up to be seen and hair that hasn’t been introduced to a brush in over 24 hours, hoping against hope that I won’t run into anyone I know while I pop out to get some fresh milk I will, inevitably run into my neighbour, the postman, that person I vaguely know from down the street and the hottest member of the opposite sex for a ten mile radius.


How does this happen? What bizarre cosmic force is at work to ensure that I have to do most of my social nods and hello’s from the position of ‘person-who-clearly-doesn’t care’? Is this the secret trick to attracting attention?



I want to know whether this runs true for anyone else. I have been given more phone numbers and flirty looks after a bad nights sleep – when I have huge circles under my eyes and straggly hair and am just out to get a fruit smoothie in the hope it will banish my headache – than any time when I have actually been prepared and willing to engage in intelligent conversation with other people. Does this happen to you?


Anyway, the reason I bring my plight to your attention, other than to discover whether it is an affliction that affects myself alone, is to draw your attention to the wonder of online dating. You can channel all that pajama’ed wit and charisma into chatty messages, saucy winks and happy date-hunting while clad in yesterday’s gardening clothes and no-one will ever know. They’ll see your pictures, showing you in a variety of guises. Try for a natural (in good light), a glammed up version of yourself having a good time and a properly posed picture taken somewhere you love (so you radiate happiness).



Those pictures between them will attract all sort of different people to look at your online dating profile. There, they can discover more about you, suss whether your interests mesh in any way and choose to find out more. That’s when the PJ Effect will kick in – they will message you and you can switch on your clearly irresistible two-day-old hair charm. After being on fine flirting form, you’ll have easily winnowed out potential dates from those you just don’t have a rapport with.


Then comes the good stuff – getting ready for the first date. Just don’t maintain the day-old socks styling for that. You’ve already broken the ice online with your glittering PJ Effect persona,  so feel free to now wow them with your lovely looks and some more nervous chatter. If they are the right person for you, you’ll switch into comfortable mode soon enough, even if you are wearing lipstick.


You’ve spent time, effort and money getting ready for your date.


You know the venue, the time, you’re excited to meet this person you’ve been messaging back and forth. You’re hopeful that the elusive spark will be there, that this could be the start of something real.


What do you pack in your handbag, or slip in your pockets before you leave though to help make sure the evening goes smoothly?


There is always something that you can think of that could help you in a sticky situation – ever ripped your skirt on a date and now obsessively carry around a sewing kit?


I’ve put together a list of items for ladies and gentlemen that can help put your mind at ease while you’re on a date – after all, if you are prepared for something, it very rarely happens and you can just relax.



  1. Mini Listerine/ Breath Mints/ Mini Toothbrush
  2. Mini Dry Shampoo
  3. Antibacterial Gel
  4. Blister plasters
  5. Body moisturiser
  6. Nail file
  7. Tampon
  8. Taxi fare
  9. Mini Umbrella
  10. Mascara/Lipstick



  1. Spare jumper
  2. Taxi fare and loose cash
  3. Smart shoes
  4. Breath mints/mini toothbrush
  5. Comb


If you’ve been dating for a while, or even if you’ve just started, the change in seasons always gets us thinking about how to change ourselves, be better and reach our full potential. The gap between seasons is traditionally when people do the most clothes shopping, get their hair cut or invest in new beauty products to see them through the new season.


It’s the same with dating. You want to be the best you can be when you head out on a date. It leaves you confident, filled to the brim with self-esteem and ready for anything – be that a another random blind date or the potential meeting of the love of your life.


Here’s our five top tips for getting the Springtime feeling into your dates. Enjoy!


1) Add more vegetables to your diet. Start adding in more coloured fruit and veg as the produce comes into season and boost your vitamin and mineral counts. This will result in healthier skin, hair and body, you’ll feel 100% better and you’ll be looking good too.


2) Clothing. Dump those dark, dingy tones that took you from work to bar during the rainy season and consign your coat to the back of your wardrobe. Invest in some lighter, brighter new colours, knits and prints to instantly lift your mood and make you feel more optimistic.


3) Have a laugh! Head so a comedy film, or have a great night out with a friend who makes you chuckle. Laughing is proven to boost your mood and make you more attractive to the opposite sex. All that smiling will get your confidence sky high and you’ll be ready for an onslaught of Spring dates in no time!


4) Plan a trip. Now is the time to take advantage of all the early bird offers out there and book a holiday with some friends. It gives you something to look forward to on days when you are not feeling your dating luck is going too well and if you do happen to be heading into a relationship come trip-time, the holiday will give you some time apart to enjoy reconnecting with friends and family.


5) Start exercising. Yes, I know it’s hard to get off the sofa when the evenings are still a little drab and dreary, but think this way: if you had started a new exercise regime in November, you’d be fighting fit now with all the pain behind you and all the gain ready to rock at those Springtime speed dating sessions! So start now and be strutting your stuff on the beach come Summer.


Dating advice can often be women-centric or else completely unrealistic because it is published in a men’s magazine which strives to maintain a sense of macho pride. The best people to ask about how you’re doing on a date are the women you are dating. Of course, actually asking the very women you are sitting across the table from at dinner is likely to look needy and a tad insecure, so we are here to help!


We have gathered some advice from women about what their recent male dates could have done to take the date from blah to huzzah!


Top 5 Tips About Dating for Guys


1) Manners are important. If you don’t want to drive her off immediately, be polite. That means tone down the swearing in conversation, pull back her chair for her at dinner, offer to pay the bill, hold the door for her, chew with your mouth closed. Yes, some women nowadays find this type of action an affront to their feminist values. Most will just be charmed that you were chivalrous enough to do it.


2) Listen. The point of dating is to find out about the other person and in so doing, determine whether you like them enough to have another date. It is a proven fact that people love to talk about themselves, but by showing interest in what your date has to say, you will actively be proving your worth as an attentive human being and a great date.


3) Relax. I know it’s hard, everyone experiences nerves on a date. However, think of something that calms you down and then channel that calm, confident person. Women don’t tend to like feeling like they are terrifying their date speechless, so if you are so nervous about your date that it is affecting your ability to talk, try practicing by putting yourself in situations where you will have to talk to strangers.


4) Make an effort. It’s nice to know that you value yourself, it makes you look like someone a women could value in turn. If you show up to your date in scruffy jeans, a hoodie and a baseball cap then it just shows that you value your own comfort above the need to make a nice first impression on your date. Either that, or you’re a college student.


5) Honesty. There is no need here to go on a full conversational leap through the ins and outs of your dating life for the last four years. If you feel that you are a part of a situation that could affect your potential relationship, such as going through divorce proceedings or that you have a child, never hide this fact. It’s part of the package deal and if they like you, they’ll let it go. If it’s too much of a deal breaker for your date, better for both of you that you find out sooner rather than later.




You made it through the big First Date. You survived the awkward ‘how-to-end-this date’ problem and you still wanted more afterward. You know you want to see this person again, so now you have to do the second date.


The second date is often thought of as the make or break date where you decide, once and for all, that this is a person you want to pursue or a person you want to relegate to the friends/acquaintance/other categories.


This is your chance to rectify any nervous first impressions with a great second impression. This is an opportunity to find out more about your date, see what they are interested in and discover if they were really being themselves on that first date – you can’t keep an act up for long!


Here are Free and Single’s Top 5 Tips for making the second date work for you;


1. Make your Second Date Completely Different from your First

If you opted for a dinner and movie combo on your first date, try and get out and about on your second. By breaking away from the usual date scenario, you’ll each be able to act more normally with less pressure on the outcome of the date. It will give you new ground to explore about each other as well – try going for a picnic, ice-skating or for a walk around a zoo.


2. If You Organised the First Date, Let Your Date Organise the Second

They got to see your First Date plans in person and that gave them some clues about your character that they clearly liked because they are back for more! However, mix things up and let the other person organise the second date to get a feel for what they think makes a great date and to learn more about them.


3. Don’t Play by any Archaic ‘Rules’ – You’ll Just Confuse Each Other

‘The Rules’. We’ve all heard of them, we’ve all bemoaned their stupidity or praised their effectiveness. But at one time or another, we have all sworn not to be the person who plays by those rules any longer. Well, now is the time! If you really, really like someone, waiting three days to call them back isn’t going to win you favours – its just going to give them time to meet someone else and decide you’re not worth the wait.


4. Have Open and Honest Lines of Communication from the Beginning

I know – no-one wants to be the person planning their marriage after the first date. However, you are much more likely to have a healthy, happy relationship with someone if you communicate together clearly and honestly. The moment lies, untruths or fibs get involved, things can only ever end one way. Messy. It’s a good rule to have in all your relationships, not just the romantic ones. So if you let a little white lie slip during the First Date (‘I LOVE baseball!) think about correcting yourself during the second date before you find yourself, 3 years down the line saying ‘I Do’ on the pitchers diamond.


5. Make an Effort, Just Like You Did for Your First Date

There is no point showing up to your First Date decked out like a glamazon if you’re going to show up to your second in your PJ’s (unless you are attending an oh-so-fashionable pajama party together, of course). Continue to make an effort with your appearance because it feels good to do so and because it shows you respect yourself. Self-esteem is a great aspect of a person and one that potential relationships need in order to survive. So find out what you’ll be doing and dress appropriately.


Who has a second date lined up in January? Tell us all about it in the comments, or Tweet us @freeandsingle


Cheer your date up and make the evening special with an unexpected gift. Whether you have only just met, have been together since the summer, or have been dating a little longer, we have the perfect gift suggestion for you!


If they are a parent, don’t get something for their kid – they are more than likely already spending all their spare cash on their progeny. Get something thoughtful that treats them and reminds them they are a person outside of their child’s life, like an afternoon to a spa with money for the babysitter thrown in or tickets to a movie not involving animated characters.


If you have only just met on Free and Single – or if this is your first date – then now is the time to add some extra wow factor by gifting them with something that will not only appeal to their character (scope out the profile!) but also shows off your sense of fun. Dump the cliche bunch of flowers and go for a bouquet of wrapped flannels before heading off to a dirt-bike track.


If they are young, don’t assume that they’ll be into the latest gadget or fashion fad. Feel free to dig a little deeper and look for a present that will help them progress with their dreams – from a simple personalized notebook to write in to a workshop learning to make your own shoes.


If you have been together for a little while longer, why not try surprising them from your usual routine with the gift of home made ice cream sundaes? Turn up with a hamper full of choice ingredients such as their favourite flavours of ice cream, some chocolate brownies or cake, some sauces, fruit, whipped cream…all the best things. Then get creating!


If they are on the mature side, don’t instantly presume coffee table books and twinsets. Go for gold with something that appeals to their personality, not their age bracket. Try a beginners lesson in cordon bleu cookery or a track day in a fast car to get their pulses racing.


You took the quiz; Are you Ready to Start Internet Dating? You ventured onto Free and Single and now…You have a date!


You have sorted the time, the location, the activity. You’ve thought how you’ll get there and back and you’ve told someone you know where you are going to be to stay safe while dating.


Whether you are a skinny minny, a vivacious babe, a rake of a man or a cuddly dude you deserve to look and feel fabulous on your first date (and all the dates after that, but concentrate on the first one for a moment, please).


Girls; play to your assets!

  1. Try to wear something you are comfy in – its tempting to go all out glamazon, but if you are a jeans and tee type of gal, it will really show that you are not feeling the dress and heels combo. You want your date to fall for you after all, not the ‘wheels and doll, baby’ version of yourself, so dress for comfort.
  2. Choose a part of your body you love and that you don’t mind showing off (so long as it’s socially acceptable!) Flaunt that part of your body and keep the rest under wraps. A good rule of thumb is legs or cleavage, not both at once.
  3. Best all-rounder outfit? (Seriously, works on anyone). Grab a wrap dress.  If you have a teeny tiny waist it will cinch it in. If you have fantastic boobs it will make a ladylike feature of them. Great legs? Slip on your favourite going-out shoes and bada-boom!

Boys; get smart!

  1. This is a first date, fellas. Even if you plan on taking her to an army boot camp complete with mud obstacle course, dress nice for the first impression and bring a change of clothes for the rope wall climbing. Then you can change back into your on-the-town outfit and take her out to dinner after you’re done crawling under chicken wire.
  2. Unless you’re planning on a full-on fancy, super smart date, go smart-casual. Don’t worry, no one in the world knows what smart-casual actually means. Approximate knowledge by keeping your shoes, watch and jacket smart, adding dark (clean) straight cut jeans with no rips in them and a plain tee shirt or polo shirt. Sorted.
  3. If you turn up looking like you made an effort and with a distracting bouquet of flowers, bottle of wine, or other knick knack, you’ll pretty much be set on a straight path to Good Impression. Throw in a compliment (about her) and some gentlemanly behaviour (open the door for her) and you score big points on the first date scale.


Now you know what to wear, it’s just a question of checking out our guide of 10 Things to Remember on your First Date for some pre-date nerve busting (if you’re really shaking, make a martini). If you’re looking for more last-minute  tips and tricks before you head out of the door, why not look in on our list of 20 Top Tips for Meeting your Internet Date for the First Time.


Good Luck! (Let us know how it goes in the comments – your story could feature right here in this very blog!)