First Date Swag

By Nicole Honchariw

Swag 1: Start things right. When it comes to making plans, Make. A. Plan.

It might seem obvious, but showing your potential new love interest that you put thought and consideration into your first date will create an instant impression, setting the tone even before the date officially begins.

This doesn’t mean you need to go all The Bachelor and deliver some elaborate evening with helicopters and cooing doves and pixie dust; on the contrary, even the simplest plans can work wonders, so long as they demonstrate a respect and awareness for your date and their tastes.

You nailed the introduction, you got the digits, you asked for their time. Now you’re ready to take the first real step- here are a few quick Do’s and Don’t’s when it comes to planning the first date.

If you’re going the drinks route…

Do– Ask your date for her preference in terms of neighborhood and type of drinks. You’re showing you can work around her comfort and convenience, while also dialing in on the kind of vibe she wants- all of which is building a better foundation for the first date (and will give you a keener sense of who she is, to boot).

She lives in Russian Hill and likes craft cocktails and a scene? Suggest Harper and Rye. She lives in the Mission and loves margaritas? Try something old school cool and quiet like Velvet Cantina. She lives in the Marina, has long extensions and a Louis bag, and says she likes Bud Light? Take her to Bar None and buy her a brew, but please, resist the urge to play Beer Pong.

Don’t– Go to the same convenient watering hole for every first date. But it’s a block away from your house? That’s great. The bartender sees your routine and chances are, they’re making this known when you’re not paying attention; not to mention, telling your date that you happen to live right nearby makes you sound a) lazy and b) like you’re just trying to ease her into the short stroll back to your place.

If you’re doing dinner…

Do– Same rules as above when it comes to asking location and taste preferences (and yes, that should be your top consideration as you pick a restaurant). And please ask if they have any dietary restrictions; this is San Francisco, after all. Make sure your date isn’t a vegetarian before booking a table at Bobo’s or gluten-free before booking at SPQR.

Don’t– Play the first date safe and steer clear of any popular spots that don’t accept reservations. Sure, there’s always the option of ordering a drink while you wait, but making sure you have a table ready upon arrival will make for a much smoother start to the experience (not to mention, “Hanger” is a real thing, and we’re not talking about closets).

If the two of you decided on a still unspecified day date…

Do– Bring a few options to the table when you call (yes, call,) her to confirm your date. The Bay Area is chock full of fantastic daytime ventures, be it perusing a local farmer’s market with a great cup of cold brew or snacking al fresca in any one of the gorgeous parks. (If you need some tips, look no further than our Date section.)

Listen to what your date has in mind, as well. Perhaps she has a gameplan of her own; if you get the sense she’s already particularly inspired by one idea, graciously agree to it. You can make up for her handling the planning by covering the day’s costs.

Don’t– This goes for all first dates. While we’re all appreciative of someone taking the time to create a great experience, things sometimes will go awry. If things don’t fall perfectly to plan, don’t fret! Take a deep breath, reassess the situation, find a backup, and roll with it.

One of the best first dates I’ve ever been on was intended to be a night listening to live jazz; only, despite my gent’s best efforts and plans, we realized upon arriving at the venue that he’d been misinformed about the show’s start time. The night ended, instead, with us drinking caipirinhas and dancing like fiends to Brazilian music at an underground club down the street- and with me loving his ability to stay calm, collected, and most importantly, fun.

Extra note– A common theme amongst the Do’s is asking questions; also known as, communication. It’s ok to ask a few questions in order to get the first date right! You’re not only ensuring your date a better, more personal first experience with you, but you’re organically easing into getting to know one another. And isn’t that what this is all about?