dating advice
mental health
BY: LBL Team

How to Date Like a Champ

Dating 101: Tips for dating like a pro

Dating apps have made setting up and going on dates easier than ever—but navigating an actual date can be tricky. That’s why we put together a dating cheat sheet so you can feel your best on dates, find the right kind of connection, and have more second dates with people you’re actually compatible with. Once you have a few tricks in your back pocket, you’ll save yourself time and effort and feel more energized and excited about dating. On your mark, get set, swipe.

First things first—as in the first date. The decision-making when it comes to dating can be exhausting. What do you wear on a first date? Where should you meet? One word: automate. Pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident and designate it as your first date outfit—every single time. That shaves off time when you’re running from work to drinks and want to make a good first impression by not being late—no more standing in front of your closet in a state of decision paralysis. The same thing goes for your go-to first date spot. Have a cozy cocktail bar near your place you can suggest so you don’t have to travel far to get back to your couch and Netflix if the date doesn’t go well. Plus, you’ll know the vibes there are always on point if things are going great and the chemistry is flying. Or pick a coffee spot near a good bench in the park, that way, you can chill and chat or take a walk and talk, depending on how you feel. Swiping through apps and choosing who you want to go out with is tiring enough. Taking a little guesswork out of the planning and prep for a first date means you’re less likely to burn out while you’re trying to meet someone you click with.

So you’re in a great outfit, the light is just right, and you think you might be into the person—whatever you do, don’t let the date turn into therapy. Too often when we’re getting to know someone, we go deeper faster than we mean to and forget to keep it cute. There’s connecting, and then there’s…crying on a stranger’s shoulder. When you’re asking about each other’s family, it can be all too easy to slip into complaining about the friction you’re having with a sibling, your strained relationship with your dad, or the gritty details of your parents’ divorce. You might bring up work and then realize they’ve been complaining about their job for 30 minutes or telling you about the trauma from the evil boss who fired them. Which is not just a bummer, but a total vibe killer. The point of a first date is connection, but when we overshare about the hard stuff, it can be a turn-off for both sides. Try as much as possible to keep topics light and keep the vibe sexy. Chances are good you won’t be in the mood to kiss someone who was just crying over their daddy issues or the fact that they’re in a professional rut. It might even turn you off from wanting to see them again, even though they might have been a great match for you. Save the tough topics for the 4th date, when you know each other better and have established more of a rapport and a bond.

If you’re an extrovert, make a point to let them drive the conversation as much as you do. Sometimes a date seems to go really well, and then you realize afterward you don’t know anything about them because they let you do all the talking. Maybe they weren’t actually very interesting, or maybe you have next to nothing in common. Of course, you still had a great time—you were practically on a date with yourself. Be willing to let silences exist without jumping in to fill them if they’re not carrying their end of the conversation. The goal is to see if you two have common ground, and if you don’t jump in to save the day, you’ll find out if you’re compatible (or not) faster. It will also give you a better indication if the date is going well or not—that way there are no surprises if it wraps up early.

Dating is a marathon, so it’s important to conserve your time and energy in any way you can. That’s why it’s more than fine to leave after one drink if you’re not feeling it from the very start. Don’t burn yourself out by having three drinks with someone you find boring, grating, or don’t have an ounce of attraction to. Too often, we feel an obligation to spend hours with this person we don’t know (and don’t owe anything) simply because they showed up. It’s actually kinder to save both of your time and not to lead anyone on if you know ultimately it’s not going anywhere.

When dating is at its best, it’s fun, sexy, and exciting. Keep these tips in mind to reduce stress and get to the good part faster so you’re not wasting your time (or anyone else’s). That way, you can just relax and enjoy getting to know someone new. Another round, anyone?

Elle Kensington is a lifestyle writer based in NYC.

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