Blind dates are something of a relic now, thanks to the Internet. A quick Google search can reveal the basics about the person you’re scheduled to go on a date with: appearance, interests and profession, providing a rather detailed glimpse into his or her life. Dig even deeper and you might find photos of their pets, arrest records or what they had for lunch last Tuesday (thank you, Instagram).
But even with this advance knowledge, first dates are intimidating. That’s the appeal.
“Part of the joy of a first date is the unveiling of the mystery of another person,” said Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University Los Angeles. Learning new details about someone piques your interest and fuels the conversation.
If you research them extensively beforehand, perusing every photo album on that person’s Facebook page or reading every post on their blog, some of that mystery disappears.
“It takes away from the spontaneity of getting to know someone,” Durvasula said.
But the reality is, most people will inevitably do a little online research.
“I suspect it’s rare for someone not to Google the person they’re scheduled to go on a date with before the actual encounter,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, an etiquette consultant. If you do, don’t play dumb. Use what you found out to further the conversation. (But within reason. If you do stumble upon sensitive information — he was jilted at the altar, she just lost her job — the first date is not the time to show your hand that you’ve discovered, much less care to discuss, what may be a painful topic.)
So, although the Internet has altered the dating landscape, the secrets of having a successful first date haven’t changed all that much. Experts shared their tips for how to help your odds of scoring a second date:
Center the date around conversation. “With the first date, you don’t want to make it so activity-focused that you lose the ability to get to know the person,” Durvasula said. While it might seem charming to go rock wall climbing or attend a concert, a sit-down meal gives the two of you the best opportunity to talk without much interruption
Set limits beforehand and stick to them. Make a mental list of your boundaries for the date: how much you’ll drink, where you’re willing to go — and how intimately involved you’ll get, recommended Tina B. Tessina, a licensed psychotherapist based in Southern California and chief romance officer at LoveForever.com. Set a standard for your date’s behavior too. “If your new date shows signs of rage, drunkenness, hysteria, disrespect or other dangerous or embarrassing behavior, don’t be polite or tolerant,” she said.
Convey interest. One of the quickest ways to win someone over is to compliment them, said Fran Greene, author of “The Flirting Bible” (Fair Winds Press). “The best compliments are genuine and have the element of surprise.”
Have a sense of humor. “A sense of humor is more important than it seems, and it’s what your date will remember when they think about you later,” said Ken Solin, a baby boomer dating expert and author of “The Boomer Guide to Finding True Love Online” (21st Century Lion Books).
Delve into heavy emotional topics. “A first date is not a therapy session,” Smith said. It’s not the appropriate setting to reveal demons from your past or spill your heart about emotional struggles.
“While emotional honesty is the goal in relationships, oversharing on a first date can be frightening and off-putting,” Solin said. Avoid discussing divorce, death, sexual experiences and voicing other deeply personal confessions, he said.
Be too self-conscious. Don’t obsess the whole time imagining what your date thinks of you, Tessina said. Your concern should be what you think of your date. “If you spend your time essentially trying to look at yourself through your date’s eyes, guessing what he or she is seeing when looking at you, you’ll miss what’s really happening,” she said.
Dominate the conversation. Remember, there are two people on this date. “Don’t boast and brag about how fabulous you are without coming up for air and asking your date about themselves,” Greene said.
Of course, share stories about yourself, but punctuate the conversation with inclusive questions like, “What do you think?” and “Has it been that way to for you?” to try to elicit responses from the other person, Tessina advised.