05/31/2012 05:08 pm ET

A Guy Reveals How to Have a Great First Date

The following comes from one of the real-guy bloggers in the Dating Without Drama community.

When it comes to dating, there's nothing that can strike fear and trepidation into the hearts of the hopeful quite like the first date. It feels like there's so much riding on this first date that it's enough to make even the most experienced dater a little white in the knuckles.

We've all heard the horror stories of awkward moments, fake emergency exits, excruciating goodnight kiss fails and the like. Here are a few dating tips as you wade into the murky waters of the first date.

Pick The Right Activities
Now this one may not always be in your hands. However, it's probably wise to have some say in the planning of the night. Where does he want to take you? What kinds of things will you be doing? You don't want to be in a little black dress when he takes you for a night of bowling and beer, for example.

If you have some input, try choosing an activity that will give you a good balance of activity time and conversation time. It's a first date, after all, so it would be nice to have some get-to-know-you face time, but having a pre-planned activity relieves the pressure to fill the whole night with conversation.

If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, make sure you let him know. It would be sad for him to plan (or even cook) a nice meal, only to find out you're allergic to it.

Keep it Loose and Fun
Maybe you've done the whole dating around thing. Maybe you're past the whole "keeping it casual" thing now and you're looking for something serious. Maybe you're really ready to settle down now. That's great. But the first date is not the best time to talk about all that.

I know you're ready and you don't want to waste time on something that isn't going anywhere, but still, maybe you can save some of that excitement for date #2? There's enough pressure during a first date as it is. Keep it loose. Just try to enjoy yourself. Enjoy getting to know a new person. Have fun.

There's nothing worse than a first date that feels like a contract negotiation: "Are you looking to settle down? Do you want to have children? Where do you see this going?" Relax. Take it easy.

Offer to Pay
This is a little tip, but a good one. I think it's best if you are prepared and offer to pay. Perhaps you believe that a guy should pay when he takes a lady out. I totally agree with you And most likely the guy you are going out with thinks the same thing.

But, as a matter of courtesy, it's better if you offer to pay and let him say, "No, please let me." This just always feels better for everyone. But what if he actually lets you pay? Well then, you've found out a valuable piece of information about this guy, haven't you?

Send Signals
One of the most difficult parts of a first date is trying to figure out if the other person is feeling you or not. I find that guys have a particularly difficult time with this. Try to send some signals out, because most likely he has no idea if you're into him or not.

If you're having a good time and you're into him, flirt! Looking into each other's eyes and smiling, a light touching of the hands or arms, laughing -- these are all very clear, universal signals of attraction.

Also, it doesn't hurt to just come right out and say, "I'm having a really good time." This brings me to one of the more awkward moments on a first date -- the goodnight kiss. This one's always a little hard to read.

When you've come to the end of the date and you want to send a signal that you're open to a goodnight kiss, you can say, "Will you walk me to the door?" Or maybe it's the opposite and you're dreading the possibility of having to dodge an unwanted kiss from this fool. Try saying to him, "It's okay, you don't need to get out. Thank you for tonight." That's classy and effective.

If he doesn't take the hint and still makes it out to your doorstep, try to preempt his advances by offering your hand for a shake goodnight. Sending signals will help move the date in the right directions.

Be safe and have fun!