Congrats, you’ve got a first date coming up. You may have some jitters but don’t let them deter you from the task at hand: trying to have some fun while getting to know your date a little bit This means getting the vibe as well as the whole person.

The Vibe: Do you feel a connection? A spark? How does it feel to be with them?

The Whole Person: What about their friends, their family, their relationships, their values, their interests, and activities?

Break the Ice

First things first: establish rapport. Don’t assume that your prior text and phone conversations created some sort of connection. You’re face to face, and it’s different.

It’s easiest to establish rapport with someone else when you’re relaxed. Calm your nerves by using deep breathing (or another technique, but preferably not shots of tequila). If you’re anxious, it’ll make your date anxious. If you’re at ease, it will be easier for your date to be at ease.

Once you’re together, pay attention to what is said, and what isn’t said. Notice body language. Most human communication is non-verbal. Keep it light, and stay away from questions. Instead, notice something praiseworthy or notable in your date. Make observations and compliments, e.g., “I love this idea of going for a walk for a first date,” or “You have such great hair!” Yes, it’s banal but you’re at the earliest stages of getting to know someone. Play it safe, and notice how your date responds. If you see a face that lights up, or animated body movements, press on. If you see broken eye contact and body stiffness, go another direction.

Once there is a good flow back and forth, you can start the with non-threatening questions, such as “What’s your favorite movie,” or “Who is someone you admire?” Those easy ice-breakers may carry you through most of the date, and that’s fine. But, If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, follow with a question or two about childhood and growing up, or about prior relationships. If you pay attention, you’ll gain a trove of information that will help you decide if you’re up for another date.

Good luck and have fun!