The first date.

It’s a brave new world out there for dating. Whether you’re swiping, matching, or liking, you can’t deny that the process for meeting people has massively changed in the past five years.

As someone who really values authentic relationships, I’ve found the dating app train hard to jump on. It’s definitely convenient to “shop” for people, but once you have each other in your respective carts and you’re ready to check out, you realize that you want more organic produce after all.

The good news is that you’re not alone. Humans are social beings, and this method of relationship selection feels awkward to others too. Once you take the plunge, you can turn that seemingly processed first date into something organic and juicy after all!

Here are some tips…

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Meet in-person.

This is the most important (and natural) way to get to know each other. Plus, realizing you don’t click with someone after a 30 minute coffee chat wastes a whole lot less time than realizing it after 3 weeks of texting.

Don’t make it all about you.

This sounds easy to avoid, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. Express genuine interest in what the other person is sharing. Before you interject, take a moment to pause and absorb. Make sure you’re actually listening and understanding what they’re saying, instead of just thinking the next impressive thing you’re going to mention.

Avoid using their profile as a crutch.

Sure, referencing someone’s photo or asking them something about their bio can be helpful in getting the ball rolling, but we’re all much more than 100 characters.

It’s easy to move past the whole bio thing with simple follow-up questions. It gets old talking about how great pizza is for an entire conversation, but it’s interesting to see why they love pizza so much. Did they grow up with a family pizza night? Have they been to Italy? Where would they like to travel? Do they like to cook? What’s their favorite thing to make?

Make sure it’s a balanced conversation.

One trick to keep yourself from over-talking or over-interrogating: If you’re having a meal, make sure that you both have had time to eat. If one person has been talking the whole time, they’ll still have food on their plate!

Don’t play games.

There’s no point in playing games. If you like someone and you want to have a second date, tell them! Alternatively, if you don’t think it will work out, politely let them know. Again, it’s always better to be on the same page than to waste time. In dating and in general, you might as well be yourself, because they’ll find out sooner or later!

Now, go forth and mingle! Be your amazing self, and the right people will love you for it.

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