First dates are as nerve-jangling as they are exciting. The prospect of meeting a potential soulmate can put a lot of pressure on one’s shoulders, starting from choosing the right outfit to finding interesting conversation topics to overcoming moments of awkward silence in order to make it or break it.

Every date is different. It all depends on the place, the mood, the ambiance, and of course, the chemistry between the two people trying their luck at getting to know each other through meaningful conversations laced with flirtatious innuendos.

Here is some advice on how to get through that first date with dignity and humor – regardless of whether this tête-à-tête will turn into an epic or ill-fated love story.

Wear Something Comfortable
Finding the perfect outfit for that first date is a tedious task: obviously, you want to look your best, but you don’t want to wear something that makes it impossible for you to walk, eat or breathe. Therefore, your best bet is to wear something you feel comfortable in – no, not that reindeer sweater your grandmother gave you for Christmas, but perhaps that feel-good dress that never lets you down?

Be on Time
This might be a challenge, especially for Jakartans and Indonesians who indulge in the art of jam karet, but arriving on time makes a good first impression, showing your date that you are taking this seriously. Excuses like “I am stuck in traffic” or “It’s raining cats and dogs in my area” do sound pretty lame. Just make an effort to be on time. Your date will appreciate it.

Put Away Your Phone
This is a date. Therefore, it is not necessary to update your Facebook status, check in on Path, post a photo of your delicious-looking dessert on Instagram, or tell your best friend how the date is going. Put away your phone and resist the temptation of social media for a couple of hours. Trying to have a conversation with someone who is constantly glued to his or her phone is the biggest turn off – especially when it is a first date.

It’s Perfectly Fine to Have a Drink
To overcome that feeling of nervousness. We are not saying that you should drink Tequila like there is no tomorrow (you don’t want your date to hear you slurring or see you stumbling to the taxi stand – that can be saved for later dates). But there is nothing wrong with having a drink or two on your date if it helps you to calm your nerves and feel a little frisky.

Don’t Talk About Your Ex
The topic of past relationships might come up. But don’t dwell on your ex. Don’t tell your date about all the reasons it didn’t work out the last time, don’t obsess about the nasty break up, because your date might either think that you are not over your last relationship yet, or that you are a bitter petty person – either scenario does not bode well for you.

Ask Questions
It is great and a good sign if your date asks you all these insightful questions about yourself, your job, your upbringing, your family, your friends. But be sure to return the favour – you don’t want to end the evening having only talked about yourself and not knowing the first thing about your date (“wait, what was your name again?”). Ask questions, listen intently, pay attention, show interest.

Keep an Open Mind
Remember that your date is probably just as nervous as you are. So keep an open mind and don’t be too judgmental about the things he or she says (unless these things are really preposterous). So what if your date enjoys playing video games or religiously watches football every weekend or has a really large stamp collection at home? It doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t still hit it off.

Have Fun
So what if the movie you watched was really crappy, or the service at the restaurant was poor, and the food didn’t taste as good as you expected? This is not what this date is about. It’s about putting yourself out there, spending quality time with another person and having fun.

Don’t Argue About the Bill
When the waiter brings the bill to your table, simply make a reach for it. If your date insists on paying, offer to split, and if they still refuse, just let them pay, leave the tip and say that the next dinner will be on you (if you think there will be a next time). Don’t make a fuss about the bill – it’s simply unnecessary.

Be Honest
Honesty is always the best policy. If you enjoyed yourself, felt a little spark and would like to see the other person again, tell them. If you, however, think that there is no chance in hell that this is ever going to work out, tell them too – in a polite and friendly way, though, because getting a brush off is never fun.

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge is a previous editor of NOW! Jakarta. An experienced writer and avid bookworm.