So, you're now in a position to meet one of your online friends in an offline setting. As always, use your common sense to ensure you're first date is a safe and enjoyable one. You're better to be over-cautios than feeling unsafe.

Planning the Date
Continue using your email or mobile-phone to arrange a date. You shouldn't give anybody your home phone number. Similarly, if you're travelling a distance to meet your date, don't give out any hotel name or number.

Suggest a few date ideas and agree on meeting in a neutral, public place. It's best not to choose places that are too noisy, busy and could have too many distractions. You might consider meeting for a coffee at a cafe, lunch at a restaraunt, picnic in a public park, a trip to the zoo or everyone's favorite, dinner and a movie. For more date ideas click here.

You aren't made of money, so don't blow a week's wage on a first date. To avoid any potentially awkward situation it might be best to plan on splitting the costs beforehand. But, remember that a good tip to a waiter demonstrates class.

If you have to cancel the date, be honest and let the person know in good time.

Going to the Date
Having arranged the date, you're now ready to go. There's several things you should ensure before heading out though.

Make your own way to the destination. Don't feel pressured into accepting a lift. You should always feel safe.

Keep other people informed. Tell a friend and family member of your plans: when you're leaving, where you're going, when you'll be home, a specific time you'll call during the date to let them know you're ok, and details about the person, like name, description and if their online dating profile has a photo print it out and give it to your friend.

You may even take a close friend to the date, but maybe just for the beginning and arrange to meet up again and work out a signal to let them know if you'd like them to stay or go.

Don't forget to brush your teeth, take that shower, brush that hair and take it easy on the aftershave or perfume. You want to look your best and impress, don't you?

Men, do clean your nails.

Ladies should consider avoiding wearing anything too low-cut or short as men have been known to be quick judgers.

Always act polite, and smile to those you encounter, be it the waiter, cinema attendant, cafe bar attendant.

Arrive on time. Be punctual by planning well in advance.

During the Date
First date's for many can be quite a nervous occassion, but try not to let the nerves get to you. More often than not your date will be just as nervous, so relax and be yourself. This person has agreed to date you. If you've chatted via an online service before meeting offline then you should know a bit about the other person. Don't try to portray an image of the person you are not - others will see through it and any 'little white lies' usually have a habit of coming back to haunt you later in a relationship.

When it comes to conversation, use what you know about them from your online correspondence and also what you know yourself and your interests. That morning, you could take an extra 20 minutes reading the paper to get a few more 'topics of the day' into your mind.

If you're stuck for topics, then hobbies, work and sport are good areas to start with. Remember to keep the conversation light in tone and don't start arguing. You certainly don't want to bore your date through negativity or me-me-me attitudes, nor do you want to venture into areas that many consider off-ground - past boyfriends, girlfriends etc.

Do take an interest in what they say, be attentive and don't be afraid to give a balanced opinion. Be honest at all times, but don't begin to tell your life story. Too much information is a dangerous thing. You want to intrigue them by giving them a taster. You'll have ample time in successive dates to get further acquanited.

Clock-watchers and over-the-shoulder lookers do not impress. If you're enjoying the date, make it known.

If at any time during the date you begin to feel uncomfortable or unsure about the situation, then you can excuse yourself and make an exit 'via the back door'. Never fear any embarrasment in asking for help if your instincts tell you to get out of there.

After the Date
Men can impress by ending the date first. Know when to end the date, usually it's helpful to do so on a funny note and when the conversation is just beginning to wane. You don't want it to become boring. You want it to end on a high-note.

When asked whether you wish to meet up again be honest and courteous. Treat others with respect and always remember to smile. Don't be overoptimistic in your expectations. Remember the first date for many is a nervous experience and if you're quick to dismiss and not give a person a second chance, that may be your loss.

I hope these tips have been of interest and will help you enjoy your dates.

If you wish to comment, or would like to suggest any more additions to the 'first date tips', please don't hesitate to Email Me

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