With the New Year upon us, every single guy or gal is looking for that special someone to pair off with. Perhaps you didn't have someone to kiss when the clock struck twelve, or you're hoping to have a Valentine this year -- a new year means a new beginning. Navigating the dating scene can be difficult and while first dates can be very exciting, sometimes they are nerve racking and scary. I consulted Meghann Novinskie, dating expert with Mixology -- a completely offline matchmaking agency catered exclusively to the LGBT community -- for some advice for our LGBT friends who are going on first dates in the New Year. "It goes so far beyond not talking about sex, religion and politics on a first date these days," Meghann says, "The rules have changed quite a bit in the past few years. Most of us know these, but sometimes we simply need a refresher."
Let's take a look at five first date tips to make sure you're dates in 2014 are successful.
1. Don't (Under Any Circumstance) Talk About Your Ex.
"First dates are new beginnings," Novinskie says, "So there is no need to revisit the past, no matter how positive or negative it might have been. I believe people use ex-talk on first dates because it's easy, and both of you have 'that horrible ex' in common."
Working to not repeat the mistakes of the past with new people can be hard work, but don't unload the issues on date number one. "Obviously, down the line we can discuss our past relationships with our new partner, but the there is a time and a place for it, and a first date is not that time," Meghann continues.
So if your ex lost your dog, cheated on you with your best friend or stole a client for you -- save the discussion for another day. First dates should be light and fun, and not dramatic story time.
2. Don't Get Drunk.
"Many first dates can take place at happy hours or bars in order to keep the mood light," Meghann says, "But getting drunk completely ruins any chance you'd have with the person you're interested in. Have a cocktail or two and leave it at that. First impressions are key so make a good one."
Sure, we've all been that person who has gotten sloppy drunk on a date, or have been on the other side of a drunken date. You don't want to be that guy or gal who drinks too much on their first date and cannot remember what they said to their new love interest the next morning. Better yet? Avoid drinking at all on your first date.
3. Don't Interview Your Date.
"Remember, if you're on a first date, you're trying to find a new love interest, not a business partner," Novinskie adds. "Ask questions, but also allow your date to get to know you as well."
So many times on first dates we can grill the person we're out with or bombard them with questions. This isn't a job interview or a college application. Ask questions about their hobbies, their hometown, college, etc. Keep it light -- you can get into the bigger questions a bit further down the line. And let your date get to know you too!
4. Engage Your Date.
"Don't sit there checking off a list of things that you are looking for," Meghann says.
Eye contact is key. If you're interested in your date, look at him or her in the eyes, don't slump in your chair and note your body language. Don't name drop, or rattle off a list of your accomplishments. Confidence is good -- arrogance is not.
"Sex, politics and religion," Novinskie adds, "try and stay away from those talking points on a first date as well if you can."
5. Dress To Impress and Go Somewhere You Can Afford.
"It's always a good idea to dress to impress on your first date," Meghann adds. "Don't wear shorts, make sure your shirt is tucked in and ironed and free of any stains."
A general rule of thumb in making a good first impression is never to wear shorts or athletic gear on a first date. Google the restaurant you're going to beforehand and make sure you're dressed appropriately.
"Dating can be expensive," Novinskie adds, "so make sure you can afford the restaurant you've agreed on meeting at before you go."
No one likes a cheap person, so complaining about prices or the ambiance during a date can be a huge turnoff. Taking someone to the nicest restaurant in town is not going to impress them if you complain about the prices the whole time. "Pick a place you both agree on," Meghann says. "And if your date can't think of something, have a few places that you know you like and can afford in your back pocket, just in case."
Cheers to the first daters in 2014! Remember, no one likes a cheap, drunk, disheveled shell, so dress to impress, be yourself and keep the conversation light and breezy, and hopefully you're first date will turn into a second!
Follow Mark Brennan Rosenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markbrosenberg