How to Make a Strong First Impression on a Date

First dates can feel intimidating – and rightfully so. If you want there to be a second date, you have to pull off a successful first date. In other words, you have to make a strong first impression.

Why the First Impression Matters 

First impressions aren’t permanent, but they might as well be. Because in a dating scenario, a poor first impression could prevent you from ever getting a second chance to change someone’s opinion about you.

Research shows that it takes eight subsequent positive encounters to reverse someone’s negative first impression of you. In other words, if you have a bad first date, you’d need eight positive first dates after that. 

Not to be disheartening, but there’s little chance you’re getting eight more dates if you screw up the first one! So if you want to land a second (and third) date, you must take the first one seriously. 

First impressions are formed on multiple levels. The initial impression is formed within seconds. All it takes is three to five seconds and they’ve made an initial judgment on who you are, what you’re like, whether you’re attractive, and whether they could see you as their partner. 

Then there’s the secondary first impression, which is the next five minutes where you talk and interact. During this time, it’s possible to overcome or reverse the initial first impression (good or bad) with what you say and how you carry yourself.

Then there’s the final first impression. This is where your partner takes the entire experience of the date and forms an overall opinion of you based on all of the information they have available. 

The initial first impression is like drawing a quick outline. The secondary impression is responsible for filling in the color. And it’s the final first impression that sort of adjusts and tweaks everything until it makes sense in the mind. 

They all combine to produce an overall first impression. If it’s a good one, then there’s a pretty good chance there will be a second date (assuming you like them). If it’s a bad one, then it could spell the end of the relationship.

First Impression Tips for First Dates

Forming a strong first impression isn’t rocket science. It really comes down to a few key ingredients. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Dress well. Before you even open your mouth to say a word, it’s your visual appearance that’s going to impact your date’s first impression of you. So make sure you dress well. While it obviously depends on where you’re dining for your date, a guy can never go wrong with wearing men’s chino pants. They’re formal enough to wear to a nicer restaurant while casual enough to ensure you come off as relaxed and personable. For women, a casual blouse or simple dress works well.
  • Show up on time. There’s nothing worse than showing up for a date late – especially a first date. It shows a lack of respect for your date and makes you appear rude or unreliable. It’s much better to show up early than late.
  • Ask questions. Everyone likes talking about themselves. Make it a point to ask your date questions and then intently listen to what they have to say. To show them you’re engaged, ask follow-up questions. Let them drive the conversation by leaning into the topics they want to discuss.
  • Put the phone away. There’s absolutely no excuse to have your phone out during a first date. If you have a tendency to pick up your phone and check text messages and notifications, you’ll want to just keep your phone in your pocket or purse. Should you need to use your phone, excuse yourself to the restroom.
  • Two drinks max. Should you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to a two-drink maximum. You might be able to handle more than this, but save it for subsequent dates. You need all of your faculties and focus and don’t want to come across as sloppy.

Follow these tips and you’ll significantly increase your chances of making a positive first impression.

Put Your Best Self Forward

We’ve covered a lot in this article, but don’t let it intimidate you. At the end of the day, you really just want to show off your best self. You’re not trying to be someone you’re not. 

Instead, you’re being conscious of how you’re portraying yourself, so that you can put across the best version of yourself. If they don’t vibe with that, then it’s not meant to be. You can’t control how they react, but you can control how you act.

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