You did your homework, wading through dozens of online profiles to find someone you click with. Then the two of you emailed, talked on the phone and arranged to meet over coffee. But now, waiting anxiously for your date to appear, you may be second-guessing yourself: "What have I done?"
Meeting in person for the first time is like going through airport security: You can't help feeling discombobulated. So if your heart races as you sit across that tiny cafe table from a potential new partner, let it. Just don't forget to smile, take a few deep breaths — and try to dodge these first-date boo-boos:
Spilling your guts. To avoid blurting out embarrassing confessions (or puffed-up pronouncements) on a first date, install a time delay in your head similar to the ones that block expletives from airing on live TV. If your date asks a tough question or makes a bold, challenging statement, activate your time delay. You want to appear ready for prime time, so it makes sense to pause and consider any response before you broadcast it.
Acting desperate. Looking for a phrase guaranteed to make a first date your last? Try "I know this sounds crazy, but I think I'm in love with you." Yes, it does sound crazy — because it is! It's cool to feel excited about being with someone new, but suggesting a profound emotional bond right away will be a warning sign to any rational person.
Suggesting risky business. "How about we go back to my place and get it on?" Saying this to someone you've known for all of an hour is more than just a daft notion; it's also a potentially dangerous one (see Diseases, sexually transmitted). And if a first date agrees to the proposition, you're likely headed for a world of trouble: The 1960s have come and gone, and casual sex is no longer a smart way to start a relationship.
Waging a gender war. You might think it sounds sophisticated to tell a woman, "I won't be doing this again because the sexes are equal now" as you open a door for her. But that's silly, not savvy. Being a gentleman — or, to depoliticize matters, acting polite — has nothing to do with gender equality; it's a gesture of respect. Most women appreciate good manners and like to feel feminine, and most guys like to reinforce those feelings.