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‘I’m a matchmaker and here's how to have a successful first date in 2023’

couple on a first date
Forget dinner and a movie, a matchmaker has revealed the key to a perfect first date. (Getty Images)

The world of dating has changed dramatically over the past decade, mostly thanks to the introduction of dating apps.

Yet, it’s not just the way we meet people that has changed, but how we date too. While a regular first date used to be dinner and a movie, one matchmaker has said that going to dinner on a first date is a tradition that is ‘dying’.

"Dinner dates are increasingly being viewed as a trickier first date option," Michelle Begy, founder of Ignite Dating, says.

"To start with, you are committed to spending a certain amount of time at the table which you need to fill with small talk with a near-stranger. It can be excruciatingly awkward if you’re not hitting off, but you’re committed to three courses."

Begy adds that there can also be some doubt about how to address the bill, and fears that your date will have picked a venue that is out of your budget.

Two young smiling women sitting on a restaurant table
Begy recommends against dinner dates as they can often be awkward. (Getty Images)

"For this reason, many daters prefer casual first date ideas which are more relaxed, such as a walk in the park or a coffee meet-up, or a more exciting activity they can both share as they get to know each other better," she says.

How to have a great first date

Instead, Begy says a perfect first date should consist of an activity that you can both do.

"Sharing an experience gives you plenty to talk about and can help you relax because you are both doing something you enjoy," she adds.

"It can feel a lot more natural to break the ice with a shared activity rather than meeting solely face-to-face across the dinner table, politely trying to keep the conversation flowing. People tend to be themselves when they are in the moment, truly enjoying what they are doing, which can really help in getting to know somebody better and eliminate the nerves that can strike when you are dating."

Begy says that one of the most important things people can do is to be yourself and "let the real you shine through".

first date rollercoaster
Begy recommends doing an activity you both enjoy for your first date. (Getty Images)

"Dating jitters can hit even the boldest person, which can inadvertently lead to you adapting your behaviour to try and impress a date or, even worse, clamming up completely," she explains.

"Luckily there are a few steps you can take to help you relax and be yourself. Pick clothing that makes you feel good because you won’t relax if your chosen outfit makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t reflect your true style. Ensure you are well prepared and avoid last-minute stresses by having your outfit laid out ready, ensuring it is ironed or dry cleaned."

Begy also recommends coming up with a pre-date ritual that can help you to relax before a date, which could be anything from chatting to a friend on the phone, to playing your favourite music or even doing some breathing exercises.

"When you meet [your date], ensure you don’t fall into the trap of constantly assessing how things are going, as this can lead to you feeling even more nervous," she adds.

"Instead, try and be in the moment and just go with it, to be in with the best chance of having a good time. Pick a venue where it’s easy to talk (no extremely noisy bars or gigs) and be careful how much alcohol you drink to ensure you keep a clear head."

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