10 Online Dating Tips For A Successful First Date

Your dating profile is your first chance to impress — make sure you get it right.

10 Online Dating Tips For A Successful First Date Anthony Fomin/unsplash

Let’s be honest: Nobody likes the thought of going on a first date.

Dating in general is stressful and a little awkward, especially when you're meeting someone for the first time, even if you’ve been chatting online and talking on the phone a few times.

How do you get off the starting blocks and across the finish line in one piece?

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There's a 5-3-1 approach to online dating: 5 emails, 3 phone calls, and 1 quick meetup (like for coffee) before investing your time on a full-blown first date.

Here are 4 tips for creating an ideal online dating profile and to making a great impresison.

1. Check your dating profile.

When you decide to get into the world of online dating, take time to proofread and check your online profile for grammatical errors.

And remember: Before someone even gets to the part of the profile where you describe yourself, they often have to look at your online dating photos, your username, and your headline first.


You only have a few chances to catch someone’s eye and entice them to read further, so you need to think carefully about each element of your dating profile.

Online Dating Photos

Make sure that your photos are fairly recent.

Try to make sure that you are the most important part of the photo. Pictures, where you are surrounded by a number of people or objects, can be distracting

Try not to use photos where you need to rip off or cut out part of the image since these do not make the best first impression.


On a number of dating sites, people are first introduced to you through your username, so you want it to be something accessible.

It’s okay to be clever, but don’t be too clever. If your username refers to an inside joke or a nickname that you use with friends, that may turn people off rather than excite curiosity.


Be careful with usernames that are provocative. In an article for Oprah, a dating expert said, "Using something like ‘legsfordays’ as a username is probably not the impression you want to give if you’re looking for a serious relationship."


Some people use their headline to describe themselves, while others use it to tell online daters what they want on a date.

An attention-grabbing headline won’t be too long. It can be short, however, if it says just enough to draw someone in.

You shouldn’t agonize over your headline, but take some time to think about what would make someone click to know more.

If possible, ask a friend for help in composing your headline.


2. Be flexible when setting up the first date.

When you've met someone you would like to date, you may find that in some cases, deciding the details of your first date can be trickier than you imagined.

If you’re lucky, one of you can propose an outing. And if the other accepts, you are ready to meet.

If that does not happen for any number of reasons, remember to be flexible and not to get frustrated.

3. Offer more than one option when setting up your first date.

There is nothing wrong with proposing one outing on a certain day at a certain time, but keep in mind that people are busy with work and previous social obligations.

If you get the idea that your date is an active person after reading your date’s profile and corresponding online, you may be able to easily set up the first date if you offer more than one option.


That way, you seem more flexible and you may be able to avoid some of the back and forth of trying to manage schedules that can make dating seem like a chore before you have even really begun.

However, if you find that there is a lot of back and forth without the two of you reaching an agreement, you may want to reconsider.

If you've demonstrated flexibility and your online interest does not seem to be trying to suggest alternatives or seems unwilling to make an effort, you may want to move on.

You are one of the many singles out there who are willing to meet people after initial contact online, so don't feel obligated to try to make it work if it seems one-sided.


There are a lot of people out there who would be willing to take the time to get to know you.

4. Consider giving them a second chance if the first date was bad

In an ideal world, the moment your first meet up with someone you’ve met on a dating site would be the kind that inspires love songs.

The chemistry would be electric and your compatibility connection would be off the charts. It’s a nice fantasy, but the perfect synergy of chemistry and compatibility rarely happens on first dates.

In most first date situations, daters usually feel more of one than the other. Even more confusing, you and your online dating partner may not experience the date in the same way.


You might be immediately attracted to your date and experience mind-blowing chemistry.

But, your date could be majorly turned off by your overenthusiastic tongue action during the good-night kiss and give your dating chemistry a "slime toad" rating.

The unequal balance between chemistry and compatibility is what keeps most first dates from becoming second dates and third dates, and maybe developing into something more.

Fragile egos, dating insecurity, and unhappy previous experiences can keep us from seeing the possible partner potential in someone we’ve met online and are meeting for the first time.

An embarrassing fumbled kiss doesn’t mean there isn’t a chemical spark there.


Maybe you got an awkward peck on the cheek instead of the full-body kiss you were hoping for because your date is so overwhelmed by your beauty and personality that they're embarrassed they won’t measure up.

Dating insecurity — not lack of chemistry — made them fumble the kiss. If you never say "yes" to a second date, you’ll never discover your strong mutual attraction.

Unless the date is a total bust, chemistry alone shouldn’t preclude a second date. Give your online sweetie another chance and see what happens. Don’t be shy about giving your date a few tips before your second date.

If your date is moving too fast (lizard tongue), tell him you want to slow down until you know each other better.


If your date is moving too slow (launch failure), take the initiative and plant one square on their lips!

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Lady Antebellum sings soulful duets about first dates. Caustic comedienne Chelsea Handler shreds them with razor-sharp wit.

Everyone who’s been on a first date knows that the first face-to-face meeting with someone you’ve been dating online can run the gamut from magical to a nightmare, although most fall closer to the middle, somewhere between nice and awkward.

Truth be told, when online dating moves offline, your first meeting is apt to be both kind of nice and a little awkward.


If love wins out, those initial moments of nervous awkwardness will turn into endearing chuckles when you look back at how you met. But first, you have to make it through that first date!

When you hit it off with someone you met online, the moment eventually comes when you’re ready to move your relationship offline.

Even if you’ve become comfortable chatting with each other online, you’re apt to feel a few butterflies in your stomach when it’s time for your first in-person meetup.

It’s normal to be nervous about getting up close and personal with someone you’ve only known at the safe distance afforded by online dating.

Many people find it much easier to be charming and self-assured online. In person, self-doubt can make people feel embarrassingly awkward.


A first date needs to get you and your crush past that initial crisis in self-confidence so you can relax and get to know each other.

Here are 5 first date tips that will help you and your online sweetie transition successfully from online to offline dating.

1. Be safe.

Even if you and your new squeeze feel comfortable with each other online, you need to put safety first.

When meeting someone new for the first time, always meet in a well-lit public place where there will be plenty of other people around.

Restaurants, coffee houses, and neighborhood taverns are safe meeting places. You want to meet where help is at hand if something goes wrong.

2. Be prepared with conversation topics.


Arrive at a first meeting prepared with a few conversation starters you can use if the conversation comes to an embarrassing pause.

A funny comment you heard, something interesting you saw on the internet, or a question about something they said in a recent message are good ways to keep the conversation going.

On a first date, you want to keep it light and fun. Steer clear of controversial topics — you’re looking for ways to connect not disagree.


3. Don’t let the date linger too long.

It's better to keep your potential honey wanting more.

If you let the date drag on, it takes some of the fun out of it.

4. If you had fun, let them know it.

Feedback is important so you know if you should ask for or expect an invitation for another rendezvous.

Just follow your "gut" and you’ll be just fine.

5. Have fun and keep it light.

It’s just a first meeting for you two decide if there is a spark worth pursuing, and it is good not to get too hung up on a single date.

After all, if you're following all of our advice, you’ll want to go out on many dates to find the perfect match for you!

6. Wait until you're ready.


Online dating can be nervewracking for anyone. So, if you're still worried, wait to schedule your first meeting until you’re both ready for a face-to-face meeting.

Spend time getting to know each other before agreeing to meet in person. You don’t need to know your date well enough to write his life history — save some mystery for the first date!

But don’t let yourself be pressured into meeting before you’re ready. Beware of online daters who try to pressure you into meeting right away.

Before agreeing to meet someone you’ve met online, it’s smart to do a little research to protect yourself from predators and scammers.

Do a Google search and look up the person on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also use a people-search site such as 123people.com, which conducts simultaneous searches of popular internet and social sites.


There’s no need to be paranoid, but exercise a healthy dose of suspicion. If something about the person seems off, pass on the next meeting.

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Claire Bahn is the CEO of Online Profile Pros, the largest network professional photographers, writers, and coaches across the U.S. and Canada, all dedicated to making sure your personal brand is the best it can be.