Being a matchmaker and a relationship coach, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I am asked this very question. Usually, this line of questioning will come from someone who recently signed up for our services but unfortunately hasn’t been on a first date in years.

More often than not, my response is, “think of it as a conversation about a subject you know a lot about… yourself”.

Make sure you are always ready to discuss things about the person you are on the date with. If you’re really nervous and stuck for words, remember, people love to talk about themselves and what interests them. Make it easy on yourself, have a few topics you know they are interested in to help guide the conversation. A good example is “so, I hear you love to scuba dive, where do you go for that”. This will help start a conversation and give you an opportunity to put together your next question or comment.

Pick a place within your comfort zone that gives you the opportunity to have a private conversation. A restaurant that offers booths, isn’t too busy or noisy and has a relaxed atmosphere is always good choice. Do some research so you can suggest a couple of places that would work when you are the phone the first time.

Do your best to go into a date with zero expectations. Over the years, I’ve had people tell me about the many hours on the phone “getting to know someone” and being sure they are “Mr./Mrs. Right”, but when the in-person meeting finally happens, they are terribly disappointed. Dating is like reading a book and then deciding who you would cast for each role if the book was ever made into a movie. When that movie is eventually made, and the director picks someone else, even if Tom Cruise is the lead, you’ll be disappointed because he isn’t who you imagined in that role. Dating is the same. Don’t spend hours on the phone or the internet imagining you know someone when that can’t possibly be true until you actually meet them face-to-face. I always say, 15 minutes on the phone and if you like their voice and what they’ve said, plan the date!

The first date is going to be a bit hair raising but it’s well worth it if it turns out to be the love of your life. As a matchmaker who spends hours every year coaching people through their first date jitters, I wish I could help you make it even just a little less stressful. However, there is a short jump from nervousness to elation when you find yourself someone you’re really drawn to.