A month or so ago, Emily who writes for U! a pullout of The Sun approached me for some dating tips. The article appeared on Tuesday, 20 Dec 2005, but unfortunately, I did not save a soft copy of it. 🙁

Anyway, here’s my email reply to her. 🙂

1. Getting the date – what’s the best way to go about getting someone to go out with you?

If you are friends to start off with, casually mention a movie that you really want to watch and ask if he/she would like to join you. Well, there’s no easy way out of this, all you have to do is take a deep breath, and ask. 🙂 If you do not ask, you will never know!

2. Before the date – grooming – how should one look for a first date? Calming techniques?

Pleasant and presentable is the way to go. Dress according to the occasion. If you are on a movie date, jeans and t-shirt for guys, jeans and a nice top for girls will do. But if you going to a fine dining restaurant, you might want to dress up slightly, guys in ironed shirts, and in my opinion, a nice sundress for girls does the trick. If in doubt, it’s always good to be over-dressed than under-dressed! Guys, remember to comb your hair, trim your nose hair, shave, and if you have a tendency to sweat a lot, a dash of cologne helps. For girls, do not overdo on the perfume. French perfumer Annick Goutal says, “Once it goes beyond your two-foot to three-foot personal space, perhaps you put on a bit more than you want to.” If you are applying makeup, keep it light and fresh. Guys are usually put off by the caked up look. Wear something you are comfortable with, there’s no point wearing stilettos if you trip over on your first date!

You are bound to have butterflies in your stomach on your first date. That’s a good sign! It means you are excited to meet him/her. Try to have at least an hour or two before the date to yourself i.e. not tied up with work, or right after a soccer match. This will give you time to calm yourself down, relax, and look forward to the date. You can call up a friend prior to the date for moral support as well!  

3. During the date – manners, behaviour… how close is too close? How close can you get? How do you show interest? What should you talk about? (Any other topics?)

Different people have different ‘comfort zone’ level. On your first date, do keep the same distance you would with a normal friend. You could easily gauge how comfortable the person is by observing his/her body language. If he/she steps backward or tilt his/her body to create distance, or perhaps crosses his or her hand to create a ‘barrier’, then you would know that you are too close.

To show interest, you could bend your body forward while you are conversing. By nodding your head while the other person is talking, and tilting your head slightly, you are indicating you are interested in the conversation. For a guy, pay the girl a compliment now and then throughout your date. If she exposes the palms of her hand facing you or twirls her hair around her fingers while she is looking at you, she’s probably flirting with you, hence showing interest in you. For a girl, to show interest, you could also mirror your date’s body language and body positions.

You could always talk about your common interests and hobbies, your passion in life, or swap travel tales. However, always steer clear of the following: politics, religion, sex and ex-boyfriends/girlfriends. And always show your most positive side on your first date. No one wants to go out with someone who’s negative and always complaining about everything and anything.

4. After the date – If it went well and you want to go out again, how do you approach it? Should you call him/her? Should the other one call you? If it didn’t go well. How do you turn a date down?

Well, there are no straight and fast rules when it comes to dating. What works for some might backfires on others.
Some experts advise that the girls should never make the first move. But in this modern day and age, I feel the girl too can initiate the next date. It’s always nice to just drop your date a SMS on the same day, or the day after to thank him/her for the great time you had, and maybe suggest a meet-up sometime soon.
If you are not interested in the person, and he/she asks you out again, always be polite and courteous. The direct approach would be to tell the person that you would like to stay as friends so as to not to lead him/her on. Or if you would not want to hurt his/her feelings, you could gently let him/her down by declining his/her suggestion for another date by telling him/her you are busy or already have other engagements. Most people would get the message after a few declines.