I’m an iterative learner. I learn best by doing things and then reviewing them so I can do them better next time (though I don’t usually present post-coital surveys for completion before breakfast).
Here’s what I’ve learned so far, based on my limited experience.
Have high standards – If she says yes to a date, would you be happy to actually go on it? If not, don’t swipe and don’t make arrangements. Be picky.
Plan swipe time – Women are not going to come to me. If Iyou don’t swipe, you won’t match. You need to plan time each day to swipe and put yourself out there.
Move it offline quickly – Moving it away from the dating app to Whatsapp shows that you are interested in dating them rather than dating in general. Get the conversation to a better channel as soon as you can.
Keep chat light and brief – This isn’t an activity to find a new penpal. Keep messages light and short and filled with things to make her smile, intrigue her and questions. And don’t reveal that you are just coming out of an 18-year relationship and have four kids in the third message. Yes, that advice is based on first-hand experience.
Once a date is set, check in beforehand – A message or two between setting the date and going on it shows you are actually interested and gives you the chance to both learn more about them to prep yourself as well as stoke the conversation a little. Don’t chat too much though, otherwise you’ll have little to talk about in person.
Daytime dates are good – They are a bit different and give you reasons to leave if they don’t go well (work meetings, evening commitments, etc…). Of course, if they do go well you can extend it to the evening too…
Don’t get deep and meaningful – Remember, this is a first date not a Parkinson interview. Flirt, smile and avoid serious topics unless they initiate it themselves.
Listen more than you talk – Two-to-one is the ratio of ears to mouth, and is also a good ratio to how much you should listen rather than speaking. Yes, you’re full of anecdotes and jokes, but if you rush and share them all on the first date you’ll have nowhere to go for the second date.
Avoid going into detail about your ex – You’re there to meet someone new, not dwell on the past. All outline, no detail is fine, but if you mention your ex every other sentence then you’re doing it wrong (and probably aren’t ready for dating too).
Treat the children conversation with care – You’ve got kids, she might have too, but some people are a little picky about the topic. If you’re trying to find a new step-mum for them then by all means make it one of the first topics of conversation, otherwise don’t reveal or pry too much.
Always have an “oh no, what’s happened?!” get-out – Sometimes things don’t go as well as you’d hope, so having the option of getting out quickly and easily is useful. Line up a friend to call or message at a certain time or after a sign from you and you have your excuse to beat a hasty retreat.
Cinemas are bad for a first date – You can’t see them well, you can’t talk and you can’t even enjoy the movie as well as you’d like to. Leave the movies for a few dates down the line.
What else? Share your own advice below and I’ll try and learn from it. I’ll probably still mess up, but at least then you can say you told me so!