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The Art of the First Impression

  • Hayley DiMarco & Michael DiMarco Authors of The Art of the First Date
  • 2018 22 May
The Art of the First Impression

Impressionism is a style in which the artist captures the image of an object as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it.  How another person sees you after only a "glimpse" is called a first impression.

Most people with any social skills would agree, first impressions are very important.  From job interviews to appearances in traffic court, how you look, how you carry yourself, and what you say all leave a lasting impression, good or bad.  And dating is no different.  How your date views you in the first fifteen minutes of the date will set the tone for the rest of the night.  Not to mention that their quick take will be a determining factor as to whether you have a chance for a second date.

In actuality, most first impressions start before a guy even asks a girl out.  This is true in all asking scenarios except for the "Grocery Store Ask."  Think about it:  when a guy finally gets around to asking a girl from work out for a date, she's already watched him spill copier toner all over his pants, heard him gripe about overpriced Chicklets-style gum, and smelled him when he came back to work without showering after a noon workout at the gym.  Now, does this mean that you have no hope of getting a date with people who really know you?  Maybe!  If anything, it should illustrated the fact that even when you're taking a voluntary break from dating, you're still making first impressions that will influence whether he asks you out and whether she'll say yes once you take the dating ritual off pause.

Guys, before asking a girl out on a first date, ask yourself these two questions:  "What is her current impression of me?" and "Will that stop her from saying yes?"  Be honest in evaluating yourself.  One thing women don't go for is a man who isn't in touch with reality. A  guy like that doesn't make her feel safe.  So if you've been acting like a total whack job around her and you see her dating (or interested in) more serious guys, you're going to have to change her first impression of you if you really want to get to know her more.

Likewise, ladies, if you want to attract a certain someone to make that leap of faith and ask you out, you're going to have to ask the same questions:  "What is his current impression of me?" and "Will that stop him from asking me out?"  If you've been "one of the guys" around the office, the guy most likely will never ask you out until you become "chaseable."  A chaseable girl is one who knows that guys like a moving target and don't want to date a buddy.  Sure, they'll go out with you – that is, until their new girlfriend comes along and you suddenly feel a little less feminine and more like one of the guys.  For more on this topic, read the chapter "How Being Just Friends Is a Waste of Time" in our book "Marriable."

In short, before you ask or get asked, you may have to reframe your first impressions to be more desirable to the opposite sex.  "But shouldn't I be able to just be me?" you ask.  That statement screams, "I think I'm perfect," or "I'm too lazy to change."  Think about it.  Everyone has room for improvement.  We've heard many a lonely single say, "My soul mate will fit me perfectly so neither of us will have to change."  HA!  More often than not, "soul mates" expose our weaknesses so that we actually become stronger people and partners through the relationship. 

For now, though, let's get back to the first date.  Let's assume that the asking is done and the date is today.  Isn't this exciting?

So what makes for a good first impression on a first date?  Here are a few of the basics:

  • Dress for the occasion – Don't show up to meet for coffee wearing a suit or cocktail dress, just like you shouldn't wear shorts and a polo for an evening on the town.
  • Make eye contact – Avoid the "stalker stare," but practice making eye contact both when you're talking and when your date is talking.
  • Take turns talking – Nothing turns a quality date off more than a one-sided conversation.  There's got to be give-and-take.
  • Be sincerely interested in listening to the other person – Active listening involves head nodding, parroting back key words and phrases, and the stereotypical psychotherapist "hmms" and "ahhs."  But sometimes we use those tools to cover and our disinterest.  Just think about the last phone call you got from a relative who never lets you get a word in edgewise or repeats the same story over and over.  If you get busted for "fake listening," the relationship is probably already over.
  • Remember the other person's name – You probably think this last one is stupid, but seriously, we've actually heard of people forgetting.  This guy kept calling his date the wrong name the whole night, even after she corrected him.  Needless to say, not a very good first impression, and one he couldn't overcome for a second date! 

Excerpt taken from "The Art of the First Date."  Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2006.  All rights to this material are reserved.  Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Hayley & Michael DiMarco have more than forty years of dating desperation between them.  After meeting online, they have found wedded bliss (or something like it) and a passion to write and creatively package relevant books through their company, Hungry Planet.  They are the authors of "Marriable" and live in Nashville, Tennessee.

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