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How to Ensure First Date Success

23/04/2013 17:03 BST | Updated 22/06/2013 10:12 BST

Whilst my business is in the dating game, I appreciate that first dates can still be nerve-wracking: What to wear, what to say, when to say it, how to sit, who'll pay etc. The list is long and can be overbearing for many. So, to gain an insight, we recently carried out the annual Lovestruck survey to find out what's important when it comes to dating and relationships. We had some very interesting results, which I'd like to share with you in the hope that it will help you to succeed on that first date.

The Date

Even though it can be a major time and financial sacrifice if there's no chemistry, the traditional evening date is the overwhelmingly popular choice. However, the survey results suggest that females also like the option of meeting straight after work (perhaps due to their 'checklist'). This quick 'chemistry test' after-work drink can save time and money so pre-empt this by proposing it.

Money, Money, Money

Although we live in an egalitarian society, chivalry still rocks - especially when making a first impression. So, for first dates, I believe that the guy should always pay. It also shows that you're solvent and appreciate the social conventions of dating - qualities that females will be assessing. Even though the survey suggests that a quarter of women would be happy to 'go dutch', rest assured your chances of first date success will be diminished if you don't settle the bill.

First Impressions

Three words: First. Impressions. Count. The survey suggests that the vast majority of daters will have come to a decision as to whether there'll be a second date under 30 minutes into the first date. It's even more important for the guys to put their 'best foot forward' as women are twice as likely to be able to tell if there's chemistry instantly. And because you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, it's important to hit the ground running and follow my advice in the next few sections.

Essential Aspects

Judging by our survey results, if there are three qualities that you simply must possess, it's cleanliness, good manners and a sense of humour. It sounds obvious, but you're already halfway there if you ensure 'the holy trinity' are well and truly ticked.

Of course, it's not just about the 'holy trinity' (especially for ladies). Women also tend to look for height, kindness, generosity, wealth, success and.... good shoes. Some say that you can judge a man by his shoes, so choose and look after them carefully, gents! Also, as a rule of thumb, I suggest that you avoid discussions on religion and ecology, both of which didn't fare too well in the survey.

Deal-Breakers

In direct contrast to what I suggested you should possess for a first date, key deal-breakers on first dates were body odour, bad breath and rudeness. Not far behind this trifecta of first-date horrors are nose-picking and constant phone-checking. The final one is a real sign of the times: Your date should be your sole focus for the next few hours, so don't check your smartphone unless you absolutely have to as it will make them feel unimportant and a waste of their time.

We've all got aspects of ourselves that we'd like to improve - after all, nobody's perfect - but if you can avoid all five of the above, then your chances of first date success are looking good. To really ensure it's not a first date fiasco, we advise you to turn up on time, avoid splitting the bill, dancing (if you can't) and kissing badly.

Sleeping Together For The First Time

Great chemistry is pretty elusive, so when you meet someone you instantly click with sleeping together on the first date may feel totally acceptable. However, if you really like your date, my advice is to hold out a little longer. This is because, as cliché as it sounds, men like the challenge. And what comes from having to wait to sleep together is the slow-but-sure formation of the opinion that this one is worth waiting for.

Conversely, waiting too long can be the kiss of death in the early stages of the dating ritual. Like most things in life, it's all about timing - so trust your (usually correct) instincts to make the right decision.

It's Not You, It's Me

Let's be honest, finding the love of your life isn't an overnight job. Simply put, you've got to slay a lot of dragons to get to the princess / kiss a lot of frogs to get to the prince / other silly phrases. So it's not uncommon to have to let the other person down gently. Or, in some cases, a little harder.

From our survey, we found that texting was the favoured method, with face-to-face explanations a very close second. The 'cold shoulder' - where texts, emails and phone calls are completely ignored - is the preferred method of 14% surveyed. Of course, I'd like to discourage use of the 'cold shoulder' (there's a reason why it's referred to as 'cold') and, whichever method you choose, be respectful of their feelings and make it as quick and painless as possible.

Brett Harding is the Managing Director and Co-founder of Lovestruck, an online dating site. He understands how first dates can be nerve-wracking but believes his tips can help you toward first date success and beyond.