There are some surefire ways to turn off a first date – having your cell phone out on the table, drinking excessively, or being rude to the wait staff, to name a few.  But just as important as knowing what not to do, is knowing what to do on a first date to increase your chances of making it to the all-important second date.

1. Ask questions

Before I met my boyfriend Jeremy, I went on so many dates where the guy talked the entire time.  Even if I tried to get a word in edgewise, the conversation somehow had its own way of settling on him again. I know the art of asking questions, but sadly, some people don’t. I remember one date in particular with a guy we’ll call “Paul.” It wasn’t until the check came for our drinks that Paul said, “Oh, so tell me about you.” At that point, I was already turned off. Conversations are a give and take, especially on a first date, so remember to ask some thoughtful questions.

2. Be optimistic and happy

It’s important to have a good attitude on a date, even if your happy face is only covering up the fact that this is your third date this week, and the rest have been, well, sub-par. People smell negativity, and it creates an unpleasant aura on a date. In other words, try not to be “J-Jaded,” and if you are, fake it ‘til you make it. (Or, take a Guy-atus, or Girl-atus, from dating until you’re really ready to get back out there.) A simple smile goes a long way.

3. Discuss issues that are important to you

I’m not talking about politics or anything, but if there’s something you’re passionate about, it’s going to come out sooner rather than later, so it might as well be sooner. A lot of my female clients worry that a guy will judge her for her interests. One in particular takes a pottery-making class. She was concerned a guy might find that lame and grandma-like. My response: Who cares? It’s what you like to do, so own it. If a guy couldn’t handle that I like doing my daily crossword puzzle, religiously watching Glee, and reading the occasional US Weekly (ok, ok – I read it every week), then he wouldn’t be getting the whole package. (Lucky for me, Jeremy doesn’t mind… and he even helps me with the last few clues of the puzzle when I can’t get them.  As for Glee, I’m on my own with that one.)

4. Walk her where she’s going

Generally, it’ll be dark out by the time you end your date, especially as we enter fall and winter. Men, it’s important to walk your date to where she’s going – her car, the entrance to the train station, or home. Even if it’s not a love connection, let chivalry be alive and well.

Much of a first date is less about the actual words you say and more about your attitude. Are you listening, being nice, and making the effort? These things go a long way. Even if you’re perfect for each other on paper, the attitude makes all the difference.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating. Her services include: writing unique profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.
  1. It is very frustrating to send flirts or e-cards or emails and find that 90% of the women don’t even open them to read them and of those who do maybe 5% will respond. Meaning around 0.5% of women will respond at all!!
    Maybe you can explain this to me. I try to answer every type of communication with at least one or two lines as a manner of common courtesy. Please explain why most women do not respond in the same manner,
    like “I read your profile and I don’t think we are compatible. Good luck”.
    It only takes a minute and it leaves a nice feeling with the person who receives it.
    Looking forward to your response.
    Shauva Tov
    Dr. Barry Nadel

  2. Be yourself always, that how I feel, no pretentious.
    That what you see that’s what you get.
    If you are a nice person, you will always be nice.
    Live by the golden rule… It always works.

  3. Barry:
    Women have a very different experience online than men do. If they have a half-decent looking picture, their inbox is flooded with replies. If they were to respond politely to each one of them they’d be on all day, replying. In addition, many people confuse sending a message on a dating site as sending an email. Remember, these are complete strangers. They have never met you, and don’t owe you anything. Not even a polite ‘no thanks’. So practicality wins over common courtesy.
    Finally, not everyone who has a profile (and pictures) bought a membership. So they are online but can’t read the message you sent them. Try buying an all access pass, that way you may go up from 0.5% to maybe 1 or 2. But as always with dating in general, keep your spirits high and your expectations low. Most of the time, the lack of a response will save you an annoying date with the wrong girl, because she’s not into you anyway, and likewise you wouldn’t be into her.

    Barry, do you always sign your name ‘Dr.’? It’s kind of pretentious and not really relevant to a dating thread. If you were writing a letter to the editor of a medical journal, sure, why not?

  4. YOUR entire article is slanted to the woman dater and shows no knowledge or experience or difficulties of the man dater!

  5. Dave/Barry/Mike,

    These are all insightful comments, and I appreciate your taking the time to read my article. In terms of the male dater, it is true that women will receive more e-mails. And, like Dave said, the protocol is not to answer if there is no interest. Does that make it nice? No. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. You cannot take it personally since they may not answer for any number of reasons. (I used to make myself feel better by telling myself this:

    In the e-mail you send, just make sure to keep it brief, light, and mention something that caught your eye in her profile. And for your profile, having proper grammar and punctuation goes a long way to show that 1) you’re intelligent and 2) you care to put the time into the process.

    I’d be happy to answer any additional questions:


  6. It’s because of the economy that people are not signing up now more than ever people should come together as life is short and everyone deserves to love and be loved

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about expert advice.

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