Some first-date moves are obvious. For instance, 95 percent of women want you to compliment them on how they look, according to a dating survey from Flirt.com. The same survey found it’s a good idea to call or text her on the day-of to confirm, and to drop more than $30 on dinner.
But there’s a lot that goes into a successful first fling that isn’t so clear. From the size of the restaurant to the color of your shirt, research shows you could be shooting yourself in the foot without knowing it. Follow these first-date guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to landing a second.
Women rated purple and white the smartest shirt colors when it comes to what you should wear when asking her out, according to a U.K.-based poll. Blue and pink were the least appealing. On the other hand, jeans are your go-to pants when asking for a date, shows a study from Miami University of Ohio.
Let the Sun Shine Down
Women are 14 percent more likely to say “yes” to a pick-up request when asked on sunny—as opposed to cloudy—days, shows British research. Sunlight improves women’s moods and sociability, which in turn makes them more receptive to your come-ons, the study authors say.
Read Her Lips
If she speaks loudly and rapidly, uses confident language—like “absolutely” and “definitely”—and connects her sentences with inclusive words like “with,” you’re talking to an extrovert, reveals research from the Netherlands. Take her out to a packed restaurant or a bar during happy hour so she’s around lots of people. If she uses tentative words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” she’s more introverted. Plan a low-key date at a quieter, less-crowded locale.
Go Big or Go Home (Alone)
Wherever you take her, make sure it’s a large space with high ceilings. Small rooms will make her feel psychologically boxed-in and less willing to open up, shows another Dutch study.
Ask the Right Questions
“Have you ever traveled around another country alone?” That question is one of three that men and women agree is most appropriate and illuminating on a first date, according to hundreds of millions of responses collected by the dating site OkCupid.com. The other two: “Do you like horror movies?” and “Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?” If the conversation bogs down, reach for one of these.
Open up Immediately
It’s not enough to be a good listener. If you want to connect, you need to tell her some personal details about yourself, finds a study from Illinois State University. Trading personal info—like how you feel about your bosses or parents—upped a new couple’s sense of liking, perceived similarity, and closeness by 8 to 22 percent, the research suggests.
Just Don’t Be Too Caring
Women are turned off by guys who seem too concerned and emotional early in a relationship, says an Israeli study. It just comes off as desperate, the researchers explain.
Keep it in Your Pants
Leaving your cell phone out on the table during a date could ruin your chances of making a serious connection, finds research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. A cell phone—by reminding you both of your larger social networks and your lives apart from each other—detracts from intimacy, the researchers explain.
In a study at Stanford University, women were more likely to report connecting with a guy if he occasionally interrupted her to agree with her—“That’s so true!”—or finished her sentences. Women tend to cut each other off this way, and so mimicking that conversational style can score you points, the study authors say.
Don’t Swing for the Fences
Couples who wait at least 3 weeks before having sex for the first time enjoy more satisfying, stable relationships, finds a study from the Journal of Sex Research. Having sex creates powerful emotional bonds, which may sound like a good thing. But new relationships are delicate, and may not be able to support that emotional baggage, the researchers say. The good news? The vast majority of women think a good-night kiss is totally appropriate, according to the Flirt.com poll.