1. Relax. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be witty, smart or alluring. Don’t get caught up in the version of yourself you wish you were. He wants to date the real you.
2. Dress smart. First impressions matter, yes, but so does comfort. Don’t wear heels to a picnic date, for example. Pick an outfit that makes you feel great, look great, doesn’t reveal too much and is age-appropriate.
3. Show respect. Show up on time, be polite to the waitstaff, and give your date your undivided attention. (Don’t worry. If you don’t hit it off, you don’t have to date him again. But while you’re on the date, show off your social etiquette skills.)
4. Turn off your phone. Your friends and Twitter followers are not invited on the date.
5. Let him lead. If he wants to pay, let him pay. (Note: If you offer to split the bill, be prepared to actually split the bill. Don’t play games.) Remember that he’s likely nervous and is trying to figure out first-date rules, too. You’ll have plenty of time in the future to figure out gender-role stuff if you develop a relationship. In the meantime, respect his wishes to lead. Let him follow up after the date, too.
6. Be decisive. Hemming and hawing all night — “I don’t know, what do you think? What do you want to do? It’s your call.” — isn’t attractive. If your date gives you options, pick one.
7. Be present. Show interest in your date and be an active listener. Don’t let it be all about you. (If you talk non-stop when you’re nervous, try to be aware of this and intentionally refocus the conversation on him.)
8. Address the elephant in the room. If something feels awkward, if you wish you could take back something you said, or if your mind just went blank and you can’t remember your mom’s name, speak up. By acknowledging that your brain just failed you, you’ll be breaking the ice and making him more comfortable, too.
9. Establish boundaries. Be careful to not share too much on a first date. This isn’t an arranged marriage; you’ll have second and third dates to share more. Be clear about physical boundaries if he’s over-eager. Sex on a first date is never, ever a good idea.
10. Don’t drink too much. A glass of wine is fine, but try to get to know each other sober. You can always drink on your honeymoon.