What A First Date Is — And Isn’t — According To A Dating Expert

The first date is only to see if you want to have a second date — that's it!

man and woman drinking coffee getty

You might think you know what a first date is for — getting to know someone and seeing if you're compatible as a couple. But it's actually simpler than you think.

I hear a lot of stories of first dates and a lot of myths about what a first date should be like. I'm here to bust those first date myths.

In truth, the first date is only to see if you want to have a second date. That’s it!

First dates are not the time to talk about your ex, vomit your problems, or be so vulnerable that you divulge all your issues so you get it all out on the table upfront.


It’s just a time to chat, do something fun and keep it light, usually in a place where you can actually talk.

RELATED: 9 Life-Altering Things I've Learned From Going On 100 First Dates

First dates don't have to come with so much pressure!

People put so much pressure on themselves and their prospective dates, based on social myths about dating and what a first date is for.


There's plenty of poor advice from both friends and family.

The first date should be easygoing. Of course, you want to put your best foot forward, but not to the point of being fake.

You also don’t want to focus so much on vulnerability that you vomit out information before it’s time. There's a time for everything — and it isn’t all on the first date.

What should you not do on a first date?

A few things should be off the table of discussion, including talks about finances, exes, past bad relationships, traumatic events, and sex.

Yes, sex.

Unless you're only seeing this person for sex, then keep sex off the table. If, of course, you're looking for a hookup, that would be the time to let the person know.


Just be honest. Say something like, "I’m only looking for something casual right now with physical intimacy. I’m not looking for emotional intimacy and a committed relationship. What do you think?"

However, if you're looking for something more long-term, a first date might be a good time to say it, if you haven’t already in the pre-date chats.

The point of a first date is to just see how it feels, connect with the person, talk, make eye contact, and listen to their voice, watch the body language, and see if you have an interest in learning more.

It’s really not that difficult.

RELATED: 15 Men Reveal What It Means If They Kiss You On The First Date


Remember to stay focused on what's really important to you.

Don't be nitpicky just because you're nervous. Don't decide not to get to know someone because they had food on their teeth or a pimple on their nose.

Often, people reject someone because of basic human traits that everyone has been through at one time in their life. They might be nervous and, therefore, make mistakes, be clumsy, or forget.

But this can be a good sign. So, try not to allow your mind to turn you off with the little unimportant matters.

If you still need some first date vetting, here a few pointers to consider:

Did they arrive on time? If not, did they have a reasonable reason?


Did they make eye contact and greet you warmly?

Did the conversation seem to flow or become awkward and silent for long periods?

Did you have things in common?

Did the person seem open and receptive, or close and guarded?

Do your lifestyles seem to compliment each other?

Did you feel comfortable enough to talk?

Did you feel judged?


Did you hear any deal breakers?

Did you feel strong chemistry? Was it attraction?

Were there smiles and laughs, or was it serious the whole time?

First dates are for vetting the person and also for knowing if you want a second date. This means you're looking for signs that the relationship won’t be healthy or right for you, in the long run.

So, while you’re (hopefully) having fun on your date with someone new, keep this info in the back of your mind.

RELATED: 9 Questions You Should Ask On A First Date

Lisa Hawkins is a certified life coach, certified cognitive-behavioral therapy coach, and a dating and relationship coach. She has 26 years of experience in personal growth and development, psychology, and human behavior with an emphasis on relationships, which includes the most important one: with yourself. For more information, visit her website.