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10 Things Not to Screw Up on a First Date

Increase your chances of impressing that special lady by following these handy first date guidelines.

You managed to convince that cute coffee shop barrista that you're not a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal and she finally accepted your offer for a date. Now the really hard part—to actually show her that you're not a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. Everyone's different. There's no real right or wrong when it comes to the game of love (remember that scene in A Beautiful Mind when Russell Crowe tells Jennifer Connelly that he wants to "have intercourse" with her—shudder—and she still goes home with him?). But there are still some basic guidelines to increase your chances of impressing a pretty lady who you someday hope to see naked.

 

Don't Wear a Suit

You get a pass if you work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and three-piece suits are required office attire, but keep in mind that dressing to impress can sometimes backfire. If you're taking her to the opera and then a Michelin-starred restaurant on your first date, fine, wear a suit. But don't bring her to a dive bar in a tuxedo. If you can't find time to change out of your work duds, at least lose the jacket and loosen your tie a little. On the flip side, don't show up in board shorts and flip-flops. Even if that's how you normally dress, show her you made some effort to look presentable for her and at least cover up your hairy toes.

 

Show Up Five Minutes Early

A simple rule to abide by: you should be at your appointed meeting place five minutes early and assume she'll be five minutes late. If you want to impress her, don't make her sit alone at a bar waiting for you. This will also give you ample opportunity to situate yourself somewhere you feel comfortable. Chances are, this date is just as nerve-wracking for her as it is for you, and for her to walk in and be greeted by you as soon as she arrives automatically alleviates the first anxiety-inducing concern: Is he even going to show up? If you're picking her up, arrive a few minutes early.

 

Open the Door, Pull Out Her Chair

Any guy who says that he has been chewed out by a "feminist" for doing either of these things is flat-out lying. Yes, we can open our own doors and pull out our own chairs, but it's still nice when a guy shows that chivalry is not completely dead. Neglecting to make small gestures like these probably won't ruin your changes with her completely, but when you do, we notice. We appreciate it. We feel a little special. And you score brownie points.

 

Keep Your Cell Phone Face-Down

Look, we understand. Men don't carry purses, and having to sit down with a hockey-puck-sized phone in your pocket is uncomfortable. If it's possible, keep the offending piece of technology out of sight altogether, but if you need to plop it on the table, silence it and put it face-down. Even if you're fascinated by her, a light blinking out of the corner of your eye alerting you to an incoming message is distracting, and we notice when your eyes are bobbling back and forth between your phone and our faces (or any other part of us). Another important piece of cell phone etiquette to keep in mind: if you have to take a call, apologize before you do. Don't hold your finger up to silence her; she's not a dog.

 

Keep the Question Ratio at Least 1:1

If she asks you where you're from, answer, and then accept that as an opportunity to reciprocate with a question as well. Questions serve as more than basic first date ice-breakers, they actually enable you to get to know one another. If she's sitting there, firing off questions, legitimately trying to get to know you, and you don't respond in kind, it's a clear indicator that you're either a) not interested, or b) self-absorbed. And it doesn't matter if you've been Facebook stalking her for the last six months and you already know that her favorite color is green and Muffins, her three-legged family dog, died two weeks ago, ask her questions.

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