First dates are pretty much a coin toss. They can either be blissfully magical or go horribly awry. It all depends on the guy you're with, the place you go, the conversation, and of course, your outfit… Or does it? What really matters to a guy on date number one? To set the record straight, we asked real guys to give us the scoop on the surprising moves that win them over on that fateful first meeting.
Appreciate His Effort
Odds are, the guy planned the date. He knew from your profile that you liked Mexican food, so he asked all his friends and scoured the web to find some cool new place where he could say, "Try the fish tacos… it's what this place is known for." So let the guy know you appreciate his work on your behalf and the fact that he's taking you out, period. "I love it when a woman is excited to be out with me and is enjoying the spot I found," says Tom, 29. "She doesn't have to go overboard&mdash just something like, -Wow, such a nice spot, with the view of the water… thanks!' is good. Gratitude in general is good. Planning a date can give a guy an anxiety attack!"
Embrace the Awkwardness
A blank stare here, an uneasy silence sounds painful, right? Not so. Even the most successful dates have at least a few awkward moments. The good news is, feeling tongue-tied is normal and usually shows that you care about making a good impression. And while we're not suggesting laying everything out on the table, sometimes revealing your feelings &mdash even when they are a case of the jitters &mdash can break the ice and calm you down. "I was at dinner with this beautiful girl, and it was obvious we were both on edge," says Mark, 29. "Finally, after the longest pause, we looked at each other, burst out laughing, and confessed, -I'm so nervous.' Acknowledging our fears out loud made us much more relaxed, and hearing her say she was anxious too really make me feel closer to her." And what if you're not nervous, but it's obvious that your date is? Don't just talk over him. Draw him out on topics he clearly cares about-why did he have a hard time deciding between the Shiraz and the Pinot Noir? How did he learn about wine? By helping him find his comfort zone, you'll help him feel great about the date.
Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Lots of people are obsessed with their cell phone or Blackberry, but taking calls in front of your date sends serious signals that he's not worth your undivided attention. "I went out with this girl who answered her phone every time it rang," says Jason, 34. "I just sat there while she sorted out her weekend plans. It made me feel like I was one of many things on her to-do list." Same goes for text-messaging or vibrating Blackberrys. But if you must answer calls for work, just clue your guy in ahead of time so he's prepared for an interruption, and make sure to apologize when it does buzz.
Don't Grill the Guy!
Sure, there's basic information that most people like to exchange on a first date: where you grew up, what your job is all about, how many siblings you have, and so forth. But a couple of innocent questions have a way of snowballing into an all-out fact-finding mission…which can get in the way of forming a solid connection. "I went out with this girl who just sat there and fired questions about my career, my apartment, my parents, even my car," says Carl, 25. "I felt like I was on an interview, not a date." So try to tone down the -Whaddya do?' dialogue. If the conversation isn't flowing that easily, try to get your date to ponder fun, feel-good thoughts. Try something like, "What's your favorite childhood memory?" Or, "If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?"
Provide the Positive Reinforcement
Simply put, people like people who like them back. So if you're having a good time, don't be afraid to let your guy know how much you're digging him. "Some guys go for the hard-to-get woman," says Paul, 37. "But even if she's got some of that attitude, sooner or later you want to know that you've broken through, that you've won her over. I love it when a woman who's been a little cool towards me says something like, -You know, you are pretty funny, aren't you?' or -Well, I have to admit, you planned one cool date.' It clues me in that if I asked her date number two, she'd say yes."
Elise Nersesian is a New York-based writer who has contributed to Redbook, Cosmopolitan and other magazines.
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