Putting your best foot forward? Wear nice shoes.

(This article was published in Republic Magazine – South Central Mindanao under the “You Got Rained” column)

In the dating game, you might want to make sure the impression lasts.

When poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait”, he could have been up to something that we, in the modern times, have to carefully consider: the personality package. Because more often than not, it’s the substance that follows that keeps the attraction going. Here are some points to keep in mind when going out on a date, especially if it’s the first time:

Whoever comes first at the table should always stand up to greet the other one.

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If the date is set at daytime, wear light-colored clothing. Save the darker colors for when the date is set at night.

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Dress up and make it special – like something you wouldn’t look like on a normal day. But don’t overdress. Dress appropriately.

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Don’t be too romantic on a first date, especially if you’re meeting for the first time. The same thing goes for being too interrogative. Try to keep it casual and let the romance flow without too much effort.

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The conversation should always be two-way. There are only two players in this game, and both should participate.

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Always bring breathmints. At some point, your breath might feel stale. If a breathmint is not available, sip on soda. Do not slip into the restroom for mouthwash. Nothing screams “I’m too conscious about my breath” than the smell of mouthwash.

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Always bring extra cash. Typically, the gentlemen pay for the date. But things don’t come as planned sometimes.

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Always load up on mobile phone credits if you do not have a post-paid line. “Can’t text. No load.” is always a turn-off.

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Do not take anything from your date’s plate unless you are offered to.

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In any setting, a lady should not let her date carry her bag or purse unless circumstances deem it necessary. Though often regarded as a sign of gallantry, this act is found improper in some societies.

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Leave your mp3 players, laptops and iPads at home. Bringing them along says either of the two: “I might get bored of you” or “I’m a showoff. Live with it.” And besides, having too much to mind and carry never makes one look sexy.

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A text after a successful date is sweet. A call is always sweeter. However, try not to be too clingy.

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Be confident. Nothing ruins a date as embarrassingly as cold sweat, mumbling words and inappropriate gestures.

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Always have a light meal before heading off to a date. Neither eating like a lumberjack nor looking starved like a dog made anyone look good.

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A small gift for your date says a lot about your character. It also aids in making the date more intimate and engaging.

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Always aim for 0% negativity in your conversations. A date should be fun and engaging, not depressing.

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Try not to be too serious the entire time. Mixing in a little shallow (but clean) humor helps both parties ease up and be open to each other some more. And they did say “someone might be falling in love with your smile.”

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Should you take your date on a motorbike, make sure to have two helmets.

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To put it technically, conversations should be 50% common interest, 25% about him and 25% about her.

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Talk about yourselves, not other people. NEVER talk about previous relationships unless brought up. Should the topic arise, slowly redirect to a different topic.. Talking about the past can easily push your wagon downhill.

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Do not overdo anything about your looks: too much make-up, too much perfume, too much accessories. Being too overdone might make it too uncomfortable for the both of you.

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Try not to be too casual and plain. The essence of going on a date is to show the other party that you are better and above the rest.

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Unless both you and your date are already comfortable with each other, try not to be too touchy. But also try not to be too distant. Body language plays a very important role in dating.

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Don’t drink too much if alcohol is served. You should know why.

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Be responsible for your date. Make sure your date has arrived home safely. Even if you’re the lady.

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Plan a date that’s out of the box.
While nice restaurants, flowers and chocolates always come into mind when the word “date” is mentioned, many think of these as too mainstream. Here are some more ideas on how to make your date more interesting. Try going to your favorite restaurant and order your food “to go” and head off to the beach. Or give your date a gift certificate for two at a spa and take him / her there.

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Dating is very much like shopping. We look at something good, check out how it can be of value to us and basically decide whether to take it or not. As with shopping, the presentation of an item is just as important as the item itself.

Remember, there are only two sides to fall into in the tightrope game of dating – magic or disaster – the result of which relies on its main player, the main item: you.

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