How to Date

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Are you ready to conquer the dating world? Or maybe you’ve been out there for a while – and still don’t feel like you’re getting the hang of it? Not to worry – we’ll give you the key intel you need to learn How to Date.

Stepping into the dating world can feel like wandering through a maze blindfolded. But understanding the nuances of dating isn’t as daunting as it seems. From the psychology of attraction to the unspoken messages of body language, this guide is your beacon through the foggy paths of the dating scene.

How to Date For The First Time

If you are brand new to dating or you’ve been in a long-term relationship that has recently ended, your head may be spinning. Embarking on the dating journey is akin to exploring a new city: both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

With the plethora of advice floating around, how do you sift through the noise to find what works for you? 

Young couple on a first date

The Key to Authentic Dating: Being Yourself

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to prepare for a date and what to do when you get there, let’s start at the beginning: being yourself. You may have heard it so many times that it sound trite. You might not even know what that means when it comes to dating.

After all, we all market ourselves to some degree when we first meet and start getting to know someone. During the early stages of connection, most of us naturally hold ourselves back from spilling everything. And, honestly, this is part of authentic dating. It is part of being human to try to make a good impression.

That being said, if you put yourself out there on a dating app in a way that doesn’t represent who you are at all, you will probably end up having dates with a lot of people who you are not compatible with. (Hot Tip: here are 4 Ideas to Succeed with Virtual Dating)

So, even though you might not tell a new person all of your deepest darkest secrets and challenges, remember that the most magnetic trait one can possess is authenticity. Being authentic starts with knowing yourself – both the great and challenging parts. By embracing your imperfections and being honest about your interests, you not only set the stage for genuine connections, but also attract those who appreciate the real you. A facade might attract, but only authenticity can sustain.

Honesty is Sexy

Also – when you’re up front about your intentions and desires and the other person is as well, you can find out more quickly what you’re both seeking from dating.

For insights on pacing your dating journey, check out how many dates before sex to clarify the pace of intimacy that’s right for you.

Dating, at its core, is about connection, exploration, and mutual respect. By incorporating these insights, you not only enhance your dating experience but also increase the likelihood of building meaningful relationships.

And while the journey may seem daunting at times, remember, every great story starts with a single step — or in this case, a single date.

Cute lesbian girls on a first date.

Dating Safety: Tips for a Secure Experience

The other piece that is essential to consider before going on a first date is safety.

Dating safety is key to making sure that you can have as much fun as possible. The digital age brings the convenience of online dating, but it also necessitates a new set of safety measures. The number one rule of dating safety tip is to meet in a public place where other people are around. 

It’s often nice to just make a plan to grab a beverage at a cafe or bar. Don’t go for a secluded hike on a first date. If you do decide to drink alcohol, avoid drinking too much on a first date so that you can keep your wits about you and your spidey senses intact. Drinking too much can often make you more attracted to someone than you actually are, so staying somewhat sober will not only help you stay safe, it will also help you see if you have authentic attraction between you. 

Another level of safety is letting a friend know that you are going on a date and making a check in time for after the date. This can be especially helpful for the first time you decide to be intimate with someone. Keeping a friend informed about where you are as well as establishing a check in time after the meeting are other great ways to stay safe.

For more on navigating online dating effectively, check out this guide on writing an engaging online dating profile.

What to Wear on a First Date: Dress to Impress

Choosing your outfit for a date might feel like preparing for a high-stakes interview. Yet, the essence of a good impression lies not in extravagance but in authenticity and comfort. Choose an outfit that showcases your personal style and see if you can wear something that shows you took some care. 

You will also want to make sure that your outfit is situationally appropriate. If you are going to a dive bar, keep it casual. If you are going to a nice restaurant, dress up a bit. You being aware of where you are speaks volumes before you even utter a word. Also, regardless of gender, jewelry can sometimes be a nice conversation starter.

What to wear on a first date isn’t the only thing to consider. It’s also important to make sure that you are clean, your breath is fresh and you are wearing deodorant. Also, be careful of using products that have too much scent like Irish Spring – you don’t want to smell like chemicals. And, if you are wearing perfume or aftershave, go gentle. Too much can be overwhelming and some people are sensitive to scents. 

Stylish man in a store, deciding on what to wear on his first date.

The Art of Conversation

Your conversation on a first date shouldn’t be a monologue. It’s a dance of words – each partner needs to have a turn to be able to share who they are. Also, don’t get so caught up in asking questions, that you forget to flirt and enjoy the moment. Sometimes an awkward silence can create an opportunity to gaze in someone’s eyes for a moment – and take in what it feels like to be with them, in the moment.  

When you are talking about your own life, make sure to not only talk about facts and figures but also feelings. If you went on a trip somewhere and climbed to the top of a mountain, tell your date what it felt like to be there. Did you feel accomplished, in awe of the view?

When you paint a more nuanced and feelings-based picture for your date, they will be able to empathize and connect with you more. Your stories will also be more engaging.

Understanding Body Language

As much as words convey, the silent whispers of body language often tell a more profound story. Be it the sexy flirty blink, reassuring lean-in, or the distant cross of arms, understanding body language cues can significantly alter the course of your date. An attuned awareness to such non-verbal communication not only aids in navigating the date more smoothly – but also in connecting on a deeper level, beyond words.

Here’s a fun fact: sweet tastes can also boost attraction. If you are enjoying your date, don’t be afraid to share a dessert and up the chemistry.

Two men reading each other's body language on the first date.

Creating a Genuine Connection

Being genuinely interested in your date transcends the confines of basic attraction. The mantra “Be interested to be interesting” not only makes for a lively conversation, but also lights the spark of connection. 

Remember… your date’s tales and insights offer a window into their world; showing curiosity can turn that window into a doorway.

Work with a Dating Coach

If you are uncertain about what you want out of dating or how to date in a way that will get you what you want, the best thing to do is hire a dating coach.

A dating coach can help you really clarify your desires and approach. And, perhaps even more importantly – they can give you great tools and honest feedback about how you are coming across.

An experiential dating coach can help you practice step-by-step for a first date. They can give you feedback on what to wear, help you write your profile, and help you choose photos. They can help you learn how to flirt, tell inspiring stories about your life, and make a first move. It’s never too late to get out there and get what you really want!

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman is the is the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She received an MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Women’s Students from UCSC.

In her teaching and coaching, Celeste routinely draws on her extensive training in attachment psychology, sociology, gender studies, and body-based modalities like Hakomi. She uses these embodied learning principles to help students and clients tap into their own somatic wisdom, deepen their experiences of pleasure, and realize their full personal and professional potential.

A prolific writer, Celeste researched and published a defining paper on adolescent sexuality development in 2006, during her tenure at SFSU’s Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

Since then, she has co-authored 3 books with Danielle Harel: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. She writes frequently and is generally the first expert journalists turn to for quotes and information on sex, dating, and relationships.

No matter what she does – whether she is co-producing the sex-coaching-based TV series Here She Comes, or teaching at the legendary Esalen Institute – Celeste always brings her unconditional love, scintillating presence, erotic energy, and insight to every part of her work.

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