Researchers tell us the science of a successful first date

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Going on a date is one of the most nerve-wracking and unpleasant experiences. You over think everything you do, you don’t want to come across as too out there or too meek and you want to show them a good time without seeming too desperate.

But like it or not, putting yourself out there is the only way to meet new people and find a potential SO. To help you on your Tinderventures, read what some of the experts have to say about having a successful first date. And if worse comes to worse, you can always do a She’s the Man pick up line and ask if they like cheese.

Body language

It should comes as no surprise to most of you that imitation equals affection and sexual attraction. If you’ve ever watched two people flirting at a bar, you’ll notice that if it’s going well, they’ll accidentally mimic each other but they’ll be totally unaware of. It could be you both laughing at the same time or both of you shifting your bodies towards each other. Research shows that men in particular enjoyed the date more if the woman mimics his actions.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jean Decety breaks it down for us.

"When you're being mimicked in a good way, it communicates a kind of pleasure, a social high you're getting from the other person, and I suspect it activates the areas of the brain involved in sensing reward."

So pretty much mimic your date’s actions if you want to let them know you’re interested, but not so much that you look like a creepy mime.

First impressions

First impressions are probably the most important thing on a first date. Good news for the romantics – love at first sight is actually a thing! Research tells us it only takes a tenth of a second to form a first impression upon meeting someone for the first time. So realistically, you’ll know if this person is the one before you’ve even ordered starters!

If, like any woman, your room looks like an explosion of clothes because you have nothing to wear, studies show that wearing all black makes us feel confident on a first date and that our dates are more likely to enjoy it (not that you should be dressing for other people). While red may be associated with passion, it can also be associated with arrogance. At the end of the day, dress in what makes you feel comfortable and confident, because your confidence will leave a better first impression than any outfit you try on!

Eye contact

Studies show that gazing into your date’s eyes for prolonged periods of time will result in increased passion between the two lovebirds. Also, if your date’s pupils are dilated, it could mean sexual arousal or they’re processing a challenging cognitive task. So, if your date’s eyes look like bottomless dark holes, they’re either madly in love with you, solving complex equations in their head, or they’ve taken some sort of drug before meeting you. Good luck figuring out which one.

Researchers also note that smiling while making eye contact has the most power when talking to women. Looking directly at someone dramatically enhances chances of mutual feelings. A strong, steady gaze creates sexual attraction and helps other behaviours like smiling, touching and listening.

The convo

One study reports that empty compliments involving jokes and sexual references were poorly received. Shallow compliments such as “You look good!” and lame dad jokes are probs not the best way to win your date’s heart or even get laid.

Awkward silences in the conversation, on the other hand, are totally normal and nothing to freak about. When we’re on a date, it’s common to tone down our emotions to a “middle zone”, where we don’t voice what we really think in order to not come across as too over bearing on the first date. This leads to a lot of hedging around the conversation. Phrases such as “Sort of”, “Kind of” and “Maybe” can actually be a massive turn off according to research.

Garth Sundem, author of Your Daily Brain, says “If an opinion is ‘challenging’ to a date, that could actually be good for the chemistry.”

So basically, instead of presenting yourself as agreeable to everything your date says, be different and challenge him/her. The conversation is bound to be more interesting and you’re showing your true self, which is more important than seeming compliant.

Sophie Nicolas

Sophie is studying a bachelor of Arts in creative writing and is an aspiring writer, dog enthusiast and thrift shop fashion icon.

Image: Girls official Facebook page