The profile you read sounds wonderful. You’ve emailed, had a phone conversation or two, and now you’re ready to meet your online match — on to yet another coffee date, or a quick cocktail after work. Oh… you’re yawning? Sounds boring? It can be if you’ve been online dating for a while. We think this may be why so many online matches never get past the first date hurdle. It’s hard to stand out from the pack if you’re going on the same type of date time and again.

Putting thought into that first date though, can make all the difference. Yes, it does take creative planning, but in the end it will be well worth it. There’s no need to do an elaborate or even expensive date, you just need to show you’re interested enough to want to make it memorable. Even if the person you meet doesn’t turn out to be someone you’d date long term, you’ll at least have a much better and more interesting time with them. And that, after all, is what dating is really about – having a great time, no matter whom you’re with. Here are three simple tips to help you plan an original first date.

1. Read And Listen

Take the time to read your match’s profile. Often, people will mention favorite activities or places they’ve been and enjoyed in the body of their profile. Noticing these will help you find a date that’s tailor-made for your match. The added benefit of this is that it tells your date you’ve actually taken the time to read their profile and not just scanned it.

When you speak to your match on the phone for the first time (and do make it a point to talk via phone, not just text, before the date!), listen to what they’re saying. Did she write about her love of street fairs and other outdoor activities? Did he tell you on the phone that he loved roller-skating as a kid? Verbal and written clues like these will help you to plan a first date around taking a stroll through a local craft fair, or a date at the nearest skating rink, or around whatever place or activity you know your date will enjoy. Definitely more interesting than lattes at Starbucks… and your date will be impressed that you put care and thought into planning something customized.

2. Plan Your Talking Points

One of the things we hear over and over about successful dates is that the “conversation just flowed.” This is not an easy thing to accomplish on a getting-to-know you date if you haven’t done a little advance planning. Certainly don’t go in with a check-list in front of you. That would be really awkward and odd. But, you can go in with a mental list of questions or funny and interesting stories you think your date will enjoy, and tap into those if the conversation starts to stumble. We have found that if you ask the other person questions about what they like to do, where they have traveled to, about their family or work, then other related topics and stories will arise that will keep the conversation moving forward. It also shows your date that you’re interested in them and in getting to know them and that is really very sexy!

3. Leave Room For More

Most first internet dates are short. You meet, you talk, you go home and assess whether or not you’ll want to see each other again. Once in a while though, you go on that first date and the chemistry is apparent from the start. You’ll want to spend more than the usual hour with this person. You never know when this may happen… it’s usually when you least expect it. We always recommend that you think positively and have “date part two” available if you and your match hit it off and want to extend the date. For example, if you meet at the local botanical gardens, you may find a quaint cafe nearby “just in case” the date leads to dinner. Having a great time at that street fair? Have the perfect little public park staked out where you can have an impromptu picnic with food purchased at the fair.

That’s it! Just three simple steps that will help you plan a unique first date and at the same time show your date you’re interested enough to put a bit more effort into making the day, or evening, memorable. Remember, a memorable date makes a memorable you!

Sharon Sommerhalter and Mariann O’Connor are the writing team behind Lifebytes™, Real Stories. Their first book of dating advice titled “The Man Plan™, A Guy’s Guide To Planning The Perfect Date” is available at where they also share dating advice and personal stories. They also write a regular dating column at Connect with LifeBytes on Twitter at @LifeByteStory.

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