How Do I Make a Good Impression on a First Date? The Answer Is Surprisingly Simple

We’ve all been there: It’s date night. Not only that, but it’s first date night with that really awesome guy or gal you met online/at pilates/the coffee shop/Coachella/Blockbuster Video. You really, really want to make a good first impression, and you're freaking. The heck. Out. In the words of 4chan, what do? Easy: You calm down. In fact, we can all relax, because apparently all it takes to make a good first impression is to, y’know, be a decent human being. Surprise!

According to a new study commissioned by French global investment group AXA (ah, the romance of France!), we’ve only got about 12 minutes to impress our dates — but luckily, those 12 minutes should be a breeze. People tend to most immediately judge people on whether they smile, whether they make eye contact, and how pleasant their tone of voice is. Body odor and bad breath are both no-nos, while dressing sharply is considered a turn-on.

These… are really all just things people with good social skills and hygiene do as a matter of course, no? Psychologist Donna Dawson told the Daily Mail, “It is the little things you can do that will mean a lot and will put you ahead in the dating game” — but really, they’re true for life in general, too. Who would you most want to be friends with: The guy who probably left his clothes in the washer for three days before transferring them to the dryer, or the one who is pleasantly odorless? Who would you most want to hire: The gal who ironed her shirt that morning, or the one who threw on whatever happened to be lying closest to her on the floor that morning? Who would you most want to hang out with: The person who genuinely smiles a lot, or the one who’s a total Debbie Downer all the time?

The Date Report notes that while AXA seems to find the results both “significant and alarming,” they’re actually quite possibly the most encouraging outcome we could reasonably expect. “If these findings are correct,” writes Rachel Sugar, “then dating has literally never been easier.” And she’s right — dating should not be like running a marathon. It should be like taking a gentle stroll in the park. And anyone who makes it into a marathon? Well, you probably don’t want to be in a relationship with them anyway.

So, to recap, DO:

  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Take a shower
  • Wear something nice

DON’T:

  • Forget to brush your teeth
  • Neglect to put on deodorant
  • Fail to dress yourself
  • Behave in a sullen fashion

Now go forth and have the best first date of your life! And have a few more hilariously fossilized dating tips while you're at it!