First Date Hacks That Actually Work, According To 8 Women

Life hacks are a true blessing, especially where dating is concerned. Because let’s be real, fam — dating today can be confusing and even a tad stressful at times. Luckily, other daters have been able to glean some helpful wisdom from their experiences and come up with strategies to ease the whole process. For example, there are so many first date hacks that actually work — not only because they help you to feel more self-assured, but because they also encourage you to actually enjoy the date rather than getting too caught up in your anxious thoughts.

First dates are nerve-wracking for even the most confident individuals, in part because there’s a lot of innate pressure to make a stellar impression and snag a second date. But as you probably know, the more you give into those nerves, the less likely you are to feel comfortable in your own skin, and thus, to wow your date. That’s where these hacks come in. While they all differ slightly in purpose, approach, and intention, they’re all meant to empower you from the moment you meet up with your date to the moment you giddily say goodnight.

Naturally, what works for one person may not suit another. But what do you have to lose? These tried-and-true tricks from real women (and non-binary folks) are totally worth trying.

Start the convo before your date arrives.

One of the first date hacks that actually work is starting a convo before your date arrives.

I recommend two things: arrive early, and try starting the conversation via text before they get there. Choose your seat wisely so you feel comfortable, settle in, and send off a text letting your date know you’ve snagged them a seat. If they reply, you can crack a joke (maybe something about your outfit or that you’re five drinks deep already). That way, your date arrives with something to comment on or laugh about right upon meeting.

— Cassandra, 30

Wear a signature scent.

I always have a banging perfume/cologne so there’s something to remember me by.

— Megan, 31

Go to your regular spot.

I like to bring my first dates to my go-to neighborhood bar. Since it’s familiar (as in, it’s a second home), I know I’ll be in my element there. Plus, the bartender knows me and I’m treated like a VIP, so I feel extra cool in front of the date I’m trying to impress.

— Nikki, 27

Make time for some pre-date strength training.

Working out beforehand is one of the first date hacks that actually work.

Lifting weights always makes me feel like a bad*ss who can do anything, so if I have time, I always try to hit the gym before a first date.

— Jill, 28

Have a precautionary snack.

I’ve learned that it’s best to eat a little something light before going on a first date when we’re meeting for drinks. First of all, I can never tell whether we’re going to end up ordering food or not, and I can’t enjoy myself if I’m feeling hungry the whole time (and counting down the minutes until I can get home and devour some leftover). Secondly, I have a tendency to down the first couple of drinks pretty fast (blame it on the nerves), and having some food in my system means I won’t be hit too hard by that liquid courage an hour into my date.

— Erika, 29

Take a bath.

One of the first date hacks that actually work is simply taking a long bath beforehand.

I take a long, luxurious bath — sometimes with a glass of wine. Soaking in warm water reduces my anxiety somewhat, and makes me feel more relaxed before a first date.

— Laura, 27

Enlist a friend to check in.

It makes me feel better if one friend is in the loop about my date, so I’ll let them know where and when we’re meeting up, and I’ll also usually ask them to check in at a certain point. It’s not just a practical safety measure, it’s also just reassuring to know that I’m not totally going it alone. If they text me an hour or so in and I’m eager to GTFO, I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom and we’ll hash out how I can navigate the situation. It’s basically the buddy system for first dates.

— Holly, 27

Own up to the nerves.

If I’m feeling on edge, I find it’s better to just come clean about it to my date rather than try to ignore that feeling, stuff it down, or mask it. I’ll just say something like, ‘Damn, I’m actually a little nervous. You?’ Nine times out of 10, they’re relieved I came out and said it, and can totally relate. Being open usually helps to break some of the tension — we can laugh about it and then move on.

— Chelsea, 28


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Whether you’re single or married, everyone should know these 11 facts about flirting

  • Flirting is important for couples as well as for singles.
  • Business Insider rounded up some of the most fascinating findings about flirting, according to social scientists — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
  • Most people don’t like traditional pick-up lines, and men tend to overestimate how interested women are.

What could be more terrifying than talking to someone you’re attracted to?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to study up on what does — or doesn’t — work when it comes to flirting.

Business Insider found some of the most intriguing facts and social science studies on the art of flirtation, so you can saunter over to the object of your affection with confidence.

People flirt for six different reasons.

flirting whispering secret couple date

In a 2004 review of the literature on flirting, Northern Illinois University professor David Dryden Henningsen identified six different motivations for the behavior:

• Sex: trying to get in bed
• Fun: treating it like a sport
• Exploring: trying to see what it would be like to be in a relationship
• Relational: trying to increase the intimacy of a relationship
• Esteem: increasing one’s own self esteem
• Instrumental: trying to get something from the other person

In that study, Henningsen asked 101 female and 99 male students to write out a hypothetical flirty conversation between a man and a woman, then identify the motivations for the things they said.

The behaviors broke down along gender norms: Men were significantly more likely to have a sexual motivation, while women tended to have a relational one.

Couples need to flirt, too.

happy couple
A couple. 
Getty Images

Like Tinder, cats, and dying alone, flirting is usually associated with single people.

But couples need to know how to flirt, too.

After studying 164 married people for a 2012 study, University of Kentucky researcher Brandi Frisby noted that most of them flirted — by playing “footsies” or whispering in their partner’s ear, for example — as a means of maintaining and emphasizing intimacy. Oftentimes, she wrote in her paper, married couples flirted to “create a private world with the spouse.”

People feel connected when they get past the small talk.

couple talking on steps
Making a connection. 

You probably already know that asking questions of the person you fancy is a good idea.

But it’s all about the kind of questions you ask.

According to a widely cited 1997 study by State University of New York psychologist Arthur Aron, people feel more closely bonded when they ask each other intimate questions, as in “What roles do love and affection play in your life?” and “What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?” 

Six months later, two of the participants (a tiny fraction of the original study group) even found themselves in love — an intriguing result, though not a significant one.

Men overestimate how interested women are.

Fed up. 
jazbeck/Getty Images

Evidence from multiple studies supports the idea that, among heterosexual people, men tend to overperceive sexual interest from women, while women tend to underperceive sexual interest from men.

A 2014 study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology surveyed hundreds of undergraduate students from Norway, which according to the UN is one of the world’s most “gender egalitarian nations.”

Researchers found more women had been subject to instances where men overperceive sexual interest from them than men. Young, single, and sexuality-fluid participants also experienced being over-sexualized more often.

The most attractive characteristics depend on gender.

jay beyonce
Beyonce and Jay-Z. 
Win McNamee / Getty

According to a 2011 study led by University of British Columbia psychologist Jessica Tracy, heterosexual men and women diverge greatly in the facial expressions they fancy.

After showing 1,041 people images of different facial expressions, Tracy found that:

• Happiness was the most attractive female expression, but one of the least attractive for men.
• Pride was the most attractive male expression, but one of the least attractive for women.
• Interestingly, an expression of shame was relatively attractive on both men and women.

Flirting can enhance your attraction.

woman flirting
Talking in a coffee shop. 
Ranta Images / Shutterstock

University of New Mexico evolutionary psychologist Steven W. Gangestad told Psychology Today in 2016 that flirting is a “negotiation process” that happens after the first moments of attraction.

It’s a subtle sort of testing the waters. You don’t just say, “I’m attracted to you; are you attracted to me?”

“It works much better to reveal [your attraction] and have it revealed to you in smaller doses,” Gangestad said. “The flirting then becomes something that enhances the attraction.”

It’s not about being the most attractive person in the room.

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai. 

It’s about signaling that you’re available.

According to research from Webster University psychologist Monica Moore (who studied people’s flirting behavior at singles bars, shopping malls, and other places where young people meet), women who smiled and made eye contact with others were more likely to be approached than those who were simply good looking.

There may be five main styles of flirting.

millennials dating apps
A couple talking. 
Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

When it comes to flirting, everyone’s got a different M.O.

In 2010, Jeffrey A. Hall and Chong Xing published research that suggests there are five different styles of flirting. In 2015, they followed up on this research by breaking down each style into a series of verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Here are some key behaviors of each type, as described by Susan Krauss Whitbourne on Psychology Today:

• Physical flirts tend to subtly touch the person they’re interested in.
• Traditional flirts believe men should make the first move.
• Sincere flirts get other people to open up to them.
• Playful flirts see the interaction as a game and may be using the flirtation as a means to another end.

The best flirters shift their strategy depending on context.

Gay couple same sex dating flirting
A couple at a restaurant. 
Fergus Coyle/Shutterstock

If you’re flirting with someone perceived as higher status than you, being more subtle will lead to more success, according to research.

A 2014 study conducted by University of Pennsylvania professors found flirters who can adjust how overtly they flirt will have the best success. “Presence of rivals, the potential for an advance to be considered inappropriate, or the higher social status of the receiver” are all situations where you’re better off being more subtle.

If successful, flirting can lead others to think you are also funny or creative, as well as attractive.

If you’re flirting on an app, there are some words that work better than others.

dating app
Looking at a dating app. 

Compliments over text go a long way, dating website Plenty of Fish finds.

The website analyzed 60,000 messages on dating apps to find the words that got the best responses. For men, calling a woman “beautiful” led to a conversation 20% of the time. Women messaging men first receive responses less often, but using the word “nice” works best.

Flirting could be all about biology.

couple bed sex unhappy
A couple. 
Vasiliy Koval / Shutterstock

Flirting may have less to do with words or body language, and more to do with biology.

Scientists have long speculated on how pheromones, or chemicals released by your body that have an impact on people around you, contribute to physical attraction. A 2011 study out of Florida State University found men who were exposed to pheromones released by ovulating women were more likely to drink alcohol and flirt with women.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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What To Do When You’re Feeling Extra Lonely After Your Divorce

Divorce is hard, but it gets better.

Divorce catapults you into a stormy sea of emotions. Anger, disbelief, and feeling lonely are just a few of the overpowering emotions you experience as you deal with the end of your marriage.

Learning to deal with each of them is critical to your ability to move on, but learning how to deal with loneliness is one of the most difficult.

Dealing with loneliness is especially challenging because it’s a self-perpetuating emotion. It’s not energizing, like anger, so you can’t just work it out of your system by constructively expressing it. And it’s not like disbelief that you can conquer by consistently being presented with facts to the contrary.

Loneliness feeds upon itself. The more you experience it, the greater it becomes and the more difficulty you’ll have trying to conquer it.

Loneliness grows deeper and more profound the more you experience it.

But feeling lonely as you deal with divorce is normal. You’re not really destined to be alone and lonely for the rest of your life, no matter how you feel right now.

“Feel” is a keyword here because loneliness is a feeling. It isn’t a fact. And since it’s a feeling, you can change your feeling by working through it instead of being trapped by it.

Here are 11 tips for how to deal with loneliness so you can move on from your divorce:

1. Connect with others who have also been through a divorce.

Despite how unique your circumstances or how different you feel, there are plenty of people who can easily empathize with your situation — everyone who is going through divorce gets what you’re dealing with. And the quickest ways to find these people are in online divorce communities and in divorce support groups.

2. Get clear about what’s making you feel lonely.

You probably spent time alone when you were married and didn’t feel the same sense of overwhelming loneliness you feel right now. That’s because you’re feeling like there are things missing from your life now that weren’t before.

By coming face-to-face with exactly what’s missing, you’ll be able to start grieving the losses instead of staying stuck in them. And once you start the grieving process, you’ll be gain clarity about how you want to either replace or eliminate what’s missing.

3. Be compassionate with yourself.

Getting through a divorce is tough. Have patience as you find your way through yours. Do little things to pamper yourself every day and be sure to reward yourself for achieving the goals you set.

4. Create a new routine for yourself.

Mourning the loss of a shared routine (like talking about the day’s events with your spouse over dinner) can trigger loneliness. So instead of focusing on the old routine, create a new one for yourself.

5. Disconnect a bit from social media.

You don’t have to go ghost on your friends, but it wouldn’t hurt you to stop using their lives (or your ex’s life) as reasons to feel lonely.

6. Move on from your toxic relationship.

Letting go of your marriage (and what it represented to you) is a process. But the truth is that if it ended, it wasn’t a good relationship for you. And the longer you hold on to it, the more toxic it becomes to you.

7. Practice gratitude.

It is incredibly hard to feel grateful when divorce has ripped (or is ripping) your entire life away from you. But the thing is that as you start to appreciate what you still have and look at the obstacles ahead of you as challenges to overcome, you’ll have conquered one of the keys for learning how to deal with loneliness.

8. Focus on your kids and what they need to deal with the divorce.

Taking care of them will automatically force you to stop ruminating about how lonely you feel because taking care of your kids is a whole lot of work. And as you work to help them, you’ll naturally experience other emotions than loneliness.

9. Choose to learn something.

Learning is a great way to shift your emotions from loneliness to curiosity. You might choose to go back to school to improve your earning potential, or to use your divorce as a reason to pursue personal growth, or even to learn new skills to make your new life easier. (You’ll be surprised at the joy you can feel when you learn how to do things on your own!)

10. Avoid inactivity.

Being inactive or feeling bored is like putting out the welcome mat for loneliness. Instead, make a list of things you can do for fun or to just finally get done. So, the next time inactivity contributes to your loneliness pick an activity and get busy.

11. Talk with someone about your feelings.

Sharing your emotions with a friend or caring professional is great because they’ll often have insight into how to deal with the loneliness that you don’t.

These tips are just the beginning of things you can do as you learn how to deal with loneliness when you divorce. So, experiment with them. One may work better for you today than tomorrow. And try new ideas for breaking through feeling lonely as you discover them.

The more often you can acknowledge your loneliness as emotion and then choose to do something to shift that emotion, the quicker you’ll conquer it and move on from your divorce.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy the book, Phicklephilly now available on Amazon!

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly       Facebook: phicklephilly     Twitter: @phicklephilly

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