17 First Date Rules Everyone Should Follow

When it comes to first date etiquette, it's usually all about trying to take your awesome self up a notch. Not because you have anything to prove, but because first dates are about putting your best self out there. You need to be on your toes and up for anything, but you also need to keep your faculties in check, because this person — even if you’ve chatted with them for weeks through an online dating service — is still ultimately a stranger. It's a delicate balance of being open, and keeping your wits about you.

But while you’re there to make a great first impression, you’re also there to be honest about yourself and what you’re looking for. You don't want to be fake your behavior or manner in any way, because really, what's in it for you if you do? In our opinion, true first date etiquette is all about putting your needs first in a way that has consideration and respect for the person sitting across from you.

Although old-fashioned first date etiquette will tell you to spruce up, be polite, and cross your legs, there’s so much more than that archaic nonsense. Here’s your updated version of first date etiquette — because even a jungle can have rules.

1. Always Make An Effort To Be On Time

Yes, things happen, but you really don't want to keep your date waiting. When people wait too long they immediately go into "OMG. I've been stood up" mode. That's not fun for anyone. If you're running more than 10 minutes late, be sure to text and keep them posted.

2. Put Your Damn Phone Away

Unless you're waiting for your best friend to give birth because you know she's in labor or there's some other dire emergency, put the phone away. All your friends know where you are, so if you don't get back ASAP to a text, they'll understand. You want to make sure you date knows that they have your full attention. If if your phone is out and you're not texting, you're conveying to them that something else is way more important.

3. Acknowledge That Awkwardness Is Just Part Of The Game

First dates can be so awkward. When you find yourself in the middle of a pregnant silence simply saying something like, "Wow. So this is awkward. I'm sure there will be even more awkward silences to come," is actually the kindest thing to do. Addressing the elephant in the room is always a good idea. Even better? It also creates a sort of bond.

4. Be Honest About What You’re Looking For

The first date is the place to bring up what you're expectations are for the future. If you met through online dating, then take the opportunity to talk about why you're both online and what you hope to gain from it. If you met in person or because you were set up, again, then get straight to the point of what you ideally want to get out of all this dating.

If you're hoping to find true love and they're looking to just hookup, you need to know early on so you can bail if you need to.

5. Come Clean About Your Circumstances

If you're in between jobs or currently sleeping on a friend's couch for whatever reason, put that all out there. While it's always a good idea to keep some things to yourself on a first date — especially in regards to your romantic past, but we'll get to that in a minute — when it comes to things that could possibly create problems while you're dating, you want to put that out there. Encourage them to do the same, and you'll save each other a lot of time.

6. Don’t Be Too Judgmental

It's important to stick to your standards, but it's also important to have a open mind. If your date shows up in an outfit you detest or has some sort of physical thing that you don't find completely attractive, don't immediately throw in the towel. Judging is totally normal, but judging to a point where you're not even giving your date some slack or the benefit of the doubt is a shi*ty move.

7. If You Like Them, Make A Lot Eye Contact

Your eyes can really let the person know you're interested or, as the case may be, bored as hell. If you know that you're one of those people who has a hard time making eye contact, tell your date. It's better for them to know it's difficult for you instead of them thinking you're just uninterested and rude.

8. Really Listen To What They're Saying

So maybe you've stumbled upon a topic that is slowly killing you because you have zero interest; that's fine. At least listen to what they're saying so you can more than give a "Mhm."

9. Ask Questions

In asking questions, you're also creating a dialogue. When one person is just going on and on, and there's no feedback on the other end, things can go south fast. You want to pay attention to whether you're asking questions about them, and noticing if they reciprocate.

10. Be As Open-Minded As Possible...

While you may not love everything they're saying, you need to be open about it. You can't really get to know someone if you can't be open-minded enough to give them a shot. It may be your initial reaction to shut them down when they say like country music or that Obama is ruining the country, but give them a chance to talk about it. It may be rare, but sometimes total opposites do fall in love and make it. Be open to the fact that the night could take you anywhere.

11. ...But Don’t Stray Too Far Outside Your Comfort Zone

If your date suggests something that doesn't sit right with you, don't do it. While they may think it's a great idea to do shots or skip out on the bill (yes, that was once suggested to me on a date), don't succumb to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You're under no obligation to do something you just don't want to do, date or not.

12. Take A Stand If Things Get Weird

If your date crosses one of your person boundaries or does anything else to make you realize they might just be the antichrist, don't be afraid to tell them so. You have nothing to lose, because you're probably not going to date them anyway. Think of it as a favor to their future first dates.

13. Don’t Dwell On Your Ex ...

I mean, that's just a given. If they do ask, be as honest as you're comfortable with, but be wary of talking smack. This date is about a new beginning, and there's plenty of time to rehash your past if you get involved.

If they talk about their ex, just smile and make a mental note. If they talk poorly about their ex, then ugh. They've just kissed a second date goodbye.

14. ... But Do Disclose If You're Not Emotionally Available

While you don't need to reveal your full history, if you know you're completely on the rebound and have no interest in a relationship, you should be honest about that — especially if you can tell they like you, or want something longterm.

15. Never Feel Like You Have To Justify Your Beliefs

If you're faced with a bit of negative judgement because of something you believe, don't feel like you need to explain yourself. Your beliefs are yours, and you're not under any obligation to justify anything. If you think Obamacare is great and they harp on you for that, don't let them feel like you're in the hot seat. We're all entitled to our opinions. End of story.

16. Don’t Fight Over The Check Just For The Hell Of It

If they offer to pay and you're comfortable with that, then let them. But if you offer to pay half and they won't let you, don't fight about it too much just to prove you're nice, especially if it was a great night. Ending on an argument will leave a bad taste in both your mouths. Of course, if you feel like they truly aren't respecting your preference to pay, that's not cool either — and you should tell them so.

17. Don’t Be Scared To Cut The Night Short

It's your life, your valuable time, and you have a couch and sweatpants waiting for you at home. Don't force it if you know it's just not right for you. You don't need to grab another round, or stay any longer than you want to. That's the ultimate rule you should follow — for yourself, and for them.

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