Online Dating? 6 First Date Tips
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By Erina Divorce Coach, Guest Author - October 19, 2016

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Much of the success of your online dating experience will be determined by you beforehand, with decisions you make about your own boundaries and preferences.

Online dating sites have absolutely changed the game. My divorced friends and clients now go on more dates than you can shake a stick at, thanks to the matchmaker that never sleeps. An infinite string of guys seem to be available on the never ending merry-go-round.

My friend Nell (we'll call her that) is hoping to meet Mr. Right sometime soon and has collected some first date experiences on her quest. They often go like this...she agrees to go on a date and they seem to be having a great time. Some dinner, a drink, a lot of chat, a little kiss goodbye, a text or two, and then...crickets.

Do you have trouble getting to date number two or three? Here are a few basics that every girl approaching a first date should review. These will help you stay out of the quicksand in the event that you WANT to get to phase two with Mr. Let's-see-how-this-goes.

6 Online Dating, First Date Tips:

1. Treat it Like an Interview, not a Date.

Oh, and by the way you are the interviewer. It's not a date until you decide you want to go out with this person. Technically, the first meeting is more like an interview than a first date. This is your time to gather information, get your 'spidey' senses working and see if this is really someone you could truly benefit from spending more time with.

2. Go Dutch on the First Bill.

Again, your first date is more like an interview. You're not really dating yet because you haven't decided if you want to. Plan to pay for yourself. This way, if you don't want to see him again, you will avoid those weird 'I owe you' dynamics and can go your separate ways guilt-free. One friend liked a guy really well right up until the end of their first date when he dropped a comment about his shoe fetish. This was a deal breaker for her. Let him earn his second date and don't agree to see him again until you are 100% sure you want to.

3. Keep it Light, Short and Sweet.

Perhaps you are the intense type and can't do small talk. That's fine, but be clear - there ought to be NO major unloading and absolutely NO weeping on the first date. It's not your opportunity to be heard and understood, it's an interview for both of you. Focus on covering the basics. Gathering information should keep you busy for an hour or two, which is as long as a first meeting ever needs to be.

4. Don't Fail to Cover the Basics.

Decide what you need to know about him before you go out. This will help you make a decision whether to see him again. If he's socially able, he may guide the conversation himself. Nonetheless, make sure you figure out before your date, exactly what you need to know by the end of it. Be reasonable about this too. Yes, you probably should know if he's married or has children. You'll probably want to know if he's employed. You probably don't need to know yet if he wears boxers or briefs or how his first heartbreak went. Keep the conversation light and informational rather than emotional.

5. Go for 50/50 Talking.

You don't want to hog the conversation and neither should he. People do get nervous on first dates. Sometimes they over-talk or under-talk because of it. If he's an over-talker, you'll have to interrupt him in order to try and get 50/50 time. Don't hesitate - he's probably used to it. If he's the reserved type, ask him questions. Not sure what to ask him? Again, you want to cover the basics. "Where do you work?", "Do you like it?" "Have you ever been married?", and definitely "Do you have kids?". It isn't necessary to delve into his deep past on a first date, but there should be plenty of things to ask him about his current position, mindset, and place in the world. Don't expect him to handle you with social brilliance at the first meeting, he will likely be nervous too.

6. Decide BEFOREHAND How You Want Him to Feel about You.

Think about this carefully. Let's imagine that you hope he feels intrigued, respects and likes you. If this is the case, you probably won't want to get intimate with him or overshare right away. How you handle yourself will also set the tone for how you expect him to behave towards you as the relationship progresses. If you respect your own boundaries and hold yourself with dignity, he'll get the message, "This is how I am accustomed to getting treated". He can then determine if he is up for it or not. If he isn't - maybe he's not the guy.

Above all, make sure you make your first meeting a safe one. Meet in public, in the daytime, in a place with lots of people where you can get in and out quickly.  Keep it light, like coffee or lunch.  Plan to meet for a limited amount of time, and make sure someone knows where you are, and checks in on you to make sure you get back safe.

Much of the success of your online dating experience will be determined by you beforehand, with decisions you make about your own boundaries and preferences. If you've already been divorced or wounded in relationship, you may want to do some inner work at this crucial time with a Life Coach to figure out where you've been, what you've been practicing in relationships, and what you hope for the future.

Remember, your past doesn't determine your future.  You do.

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