No matter how you look at it, the concept of ‘dating’ is a bit strange – particularly at the beginning. You meet up with a virtual stranger for a few hours and hope to walk away knowing something about who they are, relay something to them about who you are, and get an idea of whether or not you have a possible future together. Come on, how nutty is that? Wouldn’t some first date tips be helpful?

Nutty, maybe – and often intimidating. Maybe this is why so many of us hesitate to move into a face-to-face meeting and cling to email and text conversations as long as possible. But intimate relationships do not thrive via email and SMS, so if you want to move forward, you’ve got to meet in-person. But what do you say? What do you wear? What if you talk too much? What if you embarrass yourself? What if he/she doesn’t like you? What if you don’t like him/her? The mind races with questions!

You’re overthinking. It doesn’t have to be this stressful, and one of the best ways I’ve found to overcome overthinking is to have an outline for the first date – some guidelines to follow so that I can relax and enjoy the experience. So without further ado, here are my top 10 first date tips:

1) Advance preparation: What’s the connection between the Boy Scouts and your dating life? Two words, ‘be prepared’. This motto rings true in most situations and your social life is one of them. Do you find it hard to think of topics of conversation? Then be prepared for your date by having a few ‘stories’ to share. Think of something funny that happened to you this week, or something interesting you read or watched – any personal anecdotes that will reveal a bit about your personality, interests, or sense of humor. Have a few of these in mind to share when the conversation stalls or you’re feeling tense.

2) Choose a neutral location: Don’t meet at your place, don’t meet at his/her place and if one of you traveled a long distance for the date, don’t meet at the hotel. If he wants to be a gentleman and pick you up from your home, decline the invite and either drive yourself or take a cab. Remember that even if you’ve been communicating and/or talking on the phone, this person is a stranger and your first priority is to keep yourself safe. And no matter how strong the physical chemistry may be, I highly suggest you do not go home together.

3) Dress for confidence: Clients often ask me what they should wear on a first date (full disclosure – this is usually only female clients, although some men could use the advice). My answer? Wear something that you think looks GREAT on you – something that gives you confidence and swagger because confidence is extremely attractive. You don’t have to dress ‘to the nines’, but don’t show up in sweatpants and an old t-shirt. Choose something comfortable (so you’re not adjusting it all night), and makes you feel like a million bucks. And don’t forget to ‘dress for the date’ – meaning, if you’re going to a baseball game, don’t wear stiletto heals and an evening dress.

4) Ditch technology: We’ve all been with dates who can’t stop checking their FB feed or responding to messages. Did you know that this is an addiction? FACT: messaging, FB likes, and emails are supplying us with a dose of dopamine everytime we respond and that’s why we are glued to our devices. Dating is detox time, so make an agreement either prior to the date or at the beginning that you will BOTH put aside your devices for the evening.

5) Don’t overshare: Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge how much information is ‘too much information’ on a date and we often ‘vent’ our thoughts and frustrations when we find a sympathetic ear. First dates are not the venue for this. Some people are more reserved than others, but if you’re someone with a history of oversharing, be aware of this in yourself and try to be conscious of it during your date. ‘Check’ yourself during the conversation and observe whether or not you are crossing the line between ‘getting acquainted’ and ‘sharing state secrets’.