First Dates; A Guide

Written by Liv Talley, LDS Dating Coach & Expert

Dear Singles,

It’s a commonly held belief that a first date should be casual, cheap, and short.

But how can you really get the most out of them?

Dating is an INVESTMENT.

Look at every first date in business terms: long-term investments are made with a certain amount of money that grows over time. Your interest and overall financial return *typically* rises in conjunction with how much you invest.

IE: the greater the investment, the higher the return.

The thing is, all first dates don’t have to be extravagant, Bachelor-esque trips to Belize.

However, the first dates that lead to second dates are thoughtful and unique.

Consider what you like doing, or ask your date what their interests are! This is a good basis for which to navigate your date, and to see if you are compatible!

Still lost?

That’s ok, I’ve outlined the logistics for successful first dates for you below:

*WARNING*: Planning a date according to the person you’re going out with, may yield successful results.

You aren’t going to work with every person you go out with. But if you have the right chemistry, and you plan an interesting/engaging first date, YOU’LL WIN ALL THE POINTS.

In fact, did you know that active dates usually elicit a better connection because your date will associate that adrenaline rush to you? That’s spicy.

But if you’re both more the reading type, then chill dates like painting, will trigger that “hey we can do what I like to do together and it’s fun,” part of the brain that develops crushes.

Ask a doctor. (Really. I’m not one and that’s just a situational observation.)

And don’t overthink it, either. Thoughtfulness towards a date doesn’t mean you have to psyche yourself out.

The purpose of this post is to elevate the pressure–not add to it.

How long should your first date last?

First dates do NOT have to be a marathon. Statistically speaking, first dates that last between 2-2.5 hours are key for both people to leave the date happy–whether they end up being interested or not.

Reason being: at 2ish hours, if one or both of you ARE interested, you’ll want more. On the other hand, if one or both of you are NOT interested, it’s short enough that neither feel trapped!

(Nothing is worse than dropping hints that you’d like to go home…for 5 hours…trust me.)

Spend money.

Chances are, your date probably just assumes that you aren’t going to buy them a car and fly them to Paris for a weekend.

Realistically though, life costs money. Dates cost money. You deserve to spend money on yourself, and the experiences you want to have! This isn’t about gold-digging or making you feel bad about your financial situation–

This is about reality.

There are LOTS of low-cost dates to explore if needed but don’t make dating or your own value/self-worth about money.

If you need an idea for a budget-friendly date night, check out mutualDates for discounts in Utah county!

Having it or not doesn’t matter as much as the story you tell yourself about it and what YOU believe it means.

It’s ok to keep things low-key if you need/want to.

The value of asking the person what they want to do on a date (if you’re the one planning it,) is that you get to figure out the best way to execute it in accordance with your bank account!


Showing interest in your date is just as important to make a real connection as being interesting. Ask your date questions, and generally show excitement to be with them! (I mean, if you ARE excited to be with them–if you’re not, probably best to not go on the date in the first place.)

Have you ever been on a date where you were asking all the questions and never get to answer any about yourself?

Or where your questions only got one-word responses?

A simple lesson for engaging on first dates: the more genuinely interested you are in someone’s life, the more interesting they’ll become. And if they’re a good match for you, the more interested they’ll be in learning about YOUR life!

Additionally, LOOK interested. Not just in your face–I’m talking the entire ensemble.

Putting effort into getting to know your date, (and how you present yourself,) is so attractive. No one wants their first date to feel sloppy or unkempt.

**That goes for how you show up physically as well**

Trying to both look good, and be an engaging date are just small investments that show interest, and could pay off BIG in the long run.

That’s where real connection forms.

Even if you decide after your date that you don’t make a good match, you can both walk away with a positive impression–which will improve your overall mindset about dating…and in turn, attracts better dates!

Invest in having good experiences with people you enjoy. Plan original dates. Be considerate of the other person while mindful of your own situation, and be interested!

Stop treating dating like a conveyor belt, and you might actually get married.

Just do your best to make the other person feel like you want to be around them. That will make ALL the difference. It leaves room for reciprocation, so they’ll want to make YOU feel special.

That’s what you’d call a win, win.

Liv Talley Dating Coach


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