How To Impress Her On Your Date

Guys, are you worried about impressing your next date? We spoke to five women to find out what makes a date truly cringe-worthy… and offer tips so you don’t make the same mistakes.

By Dave Singleton

uys, experts say that your date forms her opinion of you in the first few seconds. No pressure, right? Wrong. Unless you’re on a reality TV show, chances are you can’t ask for a retake when you meet your date for the first time. How can you guarantee you’ll make an impression that dazzles? Listen to the unvarnished truth from five women who reveal
I showed up and he wasn’t even smiling — not a good sign.
what turned them off the most (and the quickest) when they met Mr. Maybe for the first time. Then, follow the accompanying tips to avoid making the same mistakes these men made.

1. “He was uptight and couldn’t carry on a conversation”
“I showed up and he wasn’t even smiling — not a good sign. We’d met online and his emails were fairly engaging. But in person, he stared at the floor and couldn’t think of a thing to say. When he finally coughed up a couple of questions a few minutes later, one of them was, ‘Why’s a lady like you still single?’ I think he thought it was a compliment, but I was uncomfortable with him jumping into a question like that.”
– Mary Ann, 38, Baltimore, MD

Tip: Focus on making your date feel comfortable. That means smiling, relating to her and asking questions…as long as they are the right kind of questions. Ask about her interests and passions, but don’t pry or ask anything that will make her squirm.

2. “He brought up an ex who’d done him wrong”
“In the first few minutes, he said it was important to let me know that his last girlfriend treated him badly and that he ‘might be a little gun-shy with all this.’ What do you say after that? He then tried to smooth things over and change the subject, but my first impression was of this wounded bird that was definitely on the defensive and carried too much baggage.”
– Laura, 36, Washington, D.C.

Tip: To make a good impression, ax the word “ex” from your vocabulary. Face it: “Ex” is a loaded word. There is no way to bring it up in small talk on a first date without creating an awkward moment. If you’re friends with your former paramour, she’ll have questions about your boundaries or whether you’ve really moved on. If you slam your ex, she’ll assume you have “issues” that are best dealt with in therapy or with your buddies, not on a date with her.

3. “He made zero effort with his appearance”
“If he’d just been unshaven for a couple of days, it would have been fine. An unshaven guy can look hot if he’s tended to other aspects of himself, like his clothes, hair and shoes. But my date showed up
I kept thinking he was either arrogant or uninterested in our date.
unshaven at a nice restaurant in cut-offs, hiking sandals and a sleeveless shirt. I was wearing a dress and had gone out of my way to get a manicure and my hair done. It was a bad move on his part.”
– Marlene, 35, Boston, MA

Tip: Men and women both judge books by their covers, especially on first dates. So make an effort in your appearance and, if there’s any question about attire, check in with your date before you meet so you’re on the same page. For lots of dos and don’ts, read Undateable by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle. These ladies cover just about everything obnoxious or lame that a guy can do to sabotage a first impression.

4. “His smart phone was glued to his hand during the entire date”
“At first, he kept checking his phone. I asked him if he was expecting a call and he said no. Then during dinner, he thumbed through his emails constantly. I kept thinking he was either arrogant or uninterested in our date. Neither was a good option, so my first impression was also my last impression. I left dinner as soon as I could and he seemed puzzled as to why I did it.”
– Linda, 34, Richmond, VA

Tip: Keep your technology toys hidden. Trust me, being a slave to some device won’t impress her or make you look important in her eyes. If you’re worried that you might miss an important message or call, let your date know that beforehand and take care of business as soon as possible so you can refocus your attention where it belongs — on her!

5. “He was late and kept me waiting in a crowded restaurant”
“We agreed to meet at a restaurant, but at the appointed time, he wasn’t there. I dislike waiting for a guy, especially one I don’t know. And I really hate waiting for a date in a crowded public place, especially when I’m stuck there alone. By the time he showed up full of excuses, it was all about him, his demanding job and the slow cab ride. He was cute, but his lateness without calling made a terrible impression and ruined the date for me.”
– Theresa, 32, New York, NY

Tip: First dates are no time to get lax about…well, time. Show up when you say you will, and if you can’t, call or message your date as soon as you know you will be late. Not only does it demonstrate respect, but also it allows you a chance to stay relaxed so you’ll come off well during your first meeting. Flying through the door out of breath is hardly the kind of first impression you want her to have. If you do show up late, don’t compound the problem by explaining what terrible circumstances prevented you from getting there (terrible boss, awful subway, etc.). Instead, quickly adjust your attitude and focus on creating a fun evening for both of you.

For the other side of the story, read Impress Him On Your First Date.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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