Making The First Move: What Comes After “Hi”?

Admit it: While your friends are speed-dating – moving much too fast to be appropriately depressed over one unfulfilling one-night stand after another – you’re a hopeless romantic who believes in “happily ever after.”

You’ve already figured out that finding your soul mate takes time and hard work. What you haven’t learned is how to create the right opportunities.

“Expecting that, someday soon, a hunk-a-chunk-a-burnin’-love will fall from the sky into your martini glass is human nature, so congrats on being human,” says Southern California humorist Laurie Frankel, author of “It’s Not Me…It’s You!”

If You’re the Shy Type…

Initiating first contact may feel daunting if you’re already antsy at a crowded party or dissecting a total stranger’s profile at an online dating site.

Fear not, say the experts. There are foolproof ways to break the ice, without resorting to tawdry pickup lines or tripping over your tongue.

Instead of the overt “walk up and ask him/her out” approach, start with a series of short, low-key conversations, advises Dr. Rachna D. Jain, a practicing psychologist and professional relationship coach in Columbia, Maryland.

“Talk about activities you are planning, which you might invite the other person to participate in. For example: ‘Bob, did you know there is a great movie coming to the local theater? Do you ever see movies there? What do you think about the place..?’ Then, maybe the next day, follow up with: ‘Bob, I decided to go and see that movie – was planning to go on Sunday. Any chance you’d be free to go with me?’”
Dr. Jain calls this “warming them up” – checking to see if potential dates are interested before taking the full-frontal risk of asking them out.

Group events may be a more comfortable prospect if you want to delay intimacy.

“Keep the focus on doing some activity together, rather than planning a date where there is nothing else to do but sit and talk,” Dr. Jain says. (Example: “Sarah, my softball team is playing a game on Friday night and then going out for pizza. Would you want to come and watch the game and then go out with us for something to eat afterward?”)

Just for Women

If you prefer the notion of a man making the first move, you can help him along by nonverbally inviting him to approach you. It takes three simple steps, according to Dr. Jain:

  • Show interest.
  • Give him the opening.
  • Accept the opportunity.

“Show interest by looking at him and smiling, and then slowly looking away,” she says. “You can hold yourself slightly away and apart from the conversation you’re in, and give him an opening to come up to talk to you. You can break free of your group of friends to give him a chance to approach you. Good eye contact, smiling widely and facing him directly will show your interest.”

Once he approaches, accept the opportunity to speak. Stay calm, open and interested – even if you feel shy or are tempted to turn away.

Initiating contact isn’t much different.

“First, see if you can get him to talk to you,” Dr. Jain says. “If that doesn’t work, wait for an opening to go up to him. A good way to open a conversation is: ‘I don’t think we’ve met yet. Hi, I’m ___,’ – and put your hand out for him to shake. Most men will respond positively, and you can gauge his interest from there.”

Just for Men

To show interest in a woman, use your eyes to your advantage.

“Start by catching her eye and smiling,” Dr. Jain recommends. “If she seems interested – catches your eye, smiles, seems open – you can go up to her and say the same thing: ‘Hi, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m ___’ – and continue from there.”
It helps to understand how a woman thinks. She will usually make the first move under two conditions, according to Dr. Jain:

  1. You’re standing alone.
  2. You’re standing next to one of her friends.

“So, if you want to give a woman the opening to speak with you, break away from the crowd or group periodically to give her a chance to come up to you,” she says. “You might also try going up to one of your mutual friends to see if he or she might introduce you or smooth the way for a conversation.”

If There’s No Chemistry…

Once you initiate contact, be prepared for a welcome reception – or the brush-off.

“The first few minutes of contact are always delicate and should be treated gently, even if there is no interest on both sides,” Dr. Jain says. “At least be kind.”

Frankel compares the experience to shopping for clothes.

“Some things look great on the hanger or good on others, but when you actually try them on they look hideous on you,” she tells “Your bootylicious butt is about to split the seam or your less-than-endowed bust is letting you – and your neckline – down. Personal style is all about finding what’s right, which requires exposure to a wide variety of ‘fashions.’

“Chalk it up to experience, and then get shopping again! A salesperson at a very
prominent jeans store once told me women try on 15 pairs of jeans for every one pair they buy. So, start getting in and out of your ‘pants,’ and assume a similar ratio for finding compatibility and love!”

First dates are important but it’s also important not to get stressed over them. By the time you’ve got to the point of your first date you should know your date has already started to get to know you from your profile and they are interested in you. This is always a helpful reminder as it is easy to worry “what if they don’t like me?”

If it doesn’t work out you haven’t lost anything. Nothing ventured – nothing gained. Now all you have to do is relax, be yourself and have fun.

Where to Go

It’s always best to discuss this choice together.

Make sure you will be going somewhere that both people are going to enjoy. If you’ve talked about the things you like to do then find out what is in common or something new that you both want to try.

Make it something memorable as, who knows, you might be reminiscing about your first date years into the future.

Here are some ideas to get the creativity flowing

Learning a new skill together (pottery/archery/drawing/rock-climbing/painting)
Ice Skating/ Art Gallery / Museum / Sports Event
Going to see a play/concert
Going to a theme park
Dinner Date/ Lunch Date

It is always better to have a first date somewhere where you can extricate yourself easily if needs be. A boat ride or a picnic during the day may end up being quite painful if you aren’t having a good time.

It can be a good idea to engage in an activity like a movie/play/concert which then gives a main topic to talk about later and that you can enjoy even if you aren’t enjoying the company. Do whichever you (and your date) feel most comfortable with.

Talking to Your Date

First dates are meant to be fun. Enjoy your time with the other person. You can follow on from the conversations you have had online (which means you need to have been paying attention!) and there should be plenty to talk about from that.

When you are talking to the person, try and find out who they really are. Ask them more questions about themselves. If there is one topic that anyone can talk about it is themselves and many of us find that very easy to talk about!

People love to have others show an interest in their beliefs, goals and interests. Most of all, be honest with them. Your date wants to be treated with respect, openness and honesty, just as you do!

The End of the Date

By now you should have an idea of how your date is feeling. If you are unsure about how the other person is feeling, always be respectful and always err on the side of caution. Feel free to make some progress but go slowly.

For guys, this means that even if your date has displayed some interest, don’t go in for a big sloppy kiss. A small peck on the cheek or on the lips will show you as a true gentleman.

For women, be upfront and polite with your date. Men thrive on certainty. Many guys may not get the subtle hints of interest or disinterest that you’ve been dropping. If you do or don’t want to see him again, politely let him know and be honest else you may have to tell him again in another weeks time.

If you’re feeling comfortable with the person at the end of the date and you want to see them again, exchange numbers and continue your relationship offline.

Enjoy your date and good luck!

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