Let’s get you to the first date faster.

You can message back and forth all day long, but when it comes to an actual date, you have to put yourself out there. While the rom-coms make asking someone out look like second nature, we know there’s usually some anxiety involved. No shame.

Meet Match’s Dating Expert: Sylvi

With over 25 years in healthcare, Sylvi has dedicated her life to helping others. This passion eventually evolved from a focus on physical health to emotional health as she helps singles navigate relationships. Sylvi’s specialty is perfecting members’ profiles to attract who they’re looking for.

Q: How do I ask for a date without coming off as pushy or too eager?

A: Let your match know that you’re enjoying getting to know them and would like to meet up sometime soon. Ask them what their schedule is like. This confirms your interest in spending time with them and is a low-pressure invitation. It’s also a great way to feel out if the interest is mutual without making it awkward.

Q: I was turned down. What should I do?

A: We’ve all been there. If it’s clear that there will be no further contact, let them know that you appreciate their time and wish them well. If it’s a temporary situation – for example, your match is going out of town or has previous plans – ask again in a few days or sooner if your match brings it up. Life gets busy, so “no” doesn’t always mean never.

Q: My match accepted the date. Now how do I know who pays?

A: It’s 2021, so there’s no more hard-and-fast rules on who pays. However, if you initiated the date, be prepared to pay for both of you. If you didn’t initiate the date but feel strongly about paying or splitting the bill, feel free to let them know how you like to handle things beforehand. For example, you can work into the conversation, “I’m old school and pay for all of my dates. I hope that’s okay with you.” Or, “I know you asked me out, but I picked the restaurant, so can we split the bill this time?” If it doesn’t come up naturally and you feel strongly about paying, you can always excuse yourself to the bathroom and quietly take care of the check before returning.

Q: My last date didn’t look anything like their photos. How do I avoid this happening again?

A: Start by looking at your match’s photos and asking them to tell you about them. For example, if they have a lot of travel pictures, you can ask when they took those trips. Due to the pandemic, some photos may be over a year old. You can also look out for signs of discrepancy, such as obvious or heavy editing, super close headshots where you can’t see their entire face, and no full-body photos.

I also always recommend scheduling a Vibe Check prior to setting up a date. Video chats not only give you a chance to talk and see each other live, but can ease some of the anxiety that comes with meeting in person for the first time.­­

How To Have a Great First Date

By Julie Spira, Online Dating Expert and CEO, Cyber-Dating Expert

You passed the profile test, mutually “liked” each other, and have decided to meet IRL for the first time. Now what?

How can you make sure you’re date-ready, and ensure your in-person dialog helps you get to a second date?

First dates can make even the best conversationalists nervous, with many singles defaulting to an interview-style meeting, or ending up with long moments of silence, where you can hear a fork drop on the floor. Both of these scenarios can take the romance out of dating, and make someone ask, “Check, please?”

If you’ve had this happen before, chances are you could use a cheat-sheet or a little coaching on how to get started and keep the convo going.

Here are five tips on how to break the ice, remove the pressure, and have a first date worthy of putting a second one on the calendar before you leave.

Take a Screen Shot of Your Date’s Profile.

Preparing for a first date takes more effort than putting on lipstick or pressing your pants.

I know that dating can be overwhelming, and you don’t want to call someone “Jimmy” when his name is “Johnny.” If you take a quick peek at their profile before the date starts, you can welcome them with a personalized “hello,” to get your date started.

Plus, you won’t be asking embarrassing questions like, “So have you ever been married before?” which might backfire, as your date might feel as if he or she is under the microscope.

You’re on a Date, Not in a Deposition

Too frequently people get nervous on a date and default to a job interview-style list of questions that feels as far away from romantic as it gets.

I suggest asking questions that don’t require a “yes” or “no” answer, such as “What’s the last concert you went to, and what did you love about it?” or “What movie do you have a burning desire to see?”

Both topics can easily lead to asking someone for a second date.

[Cue smiley face. :)]

Leave the Drama Behind

I’ve read too many dating profiles where someone writes they’re looking for someone who is drama-free. Besides being cliche, everyone’s had life experiences that involved drama, so it’s an unrealistic request.

I recommend keeping your first date conversations on the lighter side, which means don’t start comparing your date cards, talk about work problems, or complain about your ex. I promise you the date will go south quickly, and you’ll go home with regrets.

If you’ve had a bad day at work, don’t let that mood tag along turn into an unpleasant date. Both you and your date’s time is precious and valuable.

Instead, take a deep breath and remember the memories that made you smile. Talk about those with your date. Even if you go down job history memory lane, talk about something you accomplished and are proud of.

Be Up on What’s Newsworthy

While you don’t have to read a newspaper from cover-to-cover or be a journalist, it’s a good idea to take a quick peek at an online news or entertainment site to know what’s happening in the world.

It can be as simple as knowing what films topped the box office the weekend before, to an understanding of climate issues. Being up on world affairs helps the conversation if it should slow down, plus being smart is super-sexy

If you’re still stuck on what to say, try spending more time listening and being interested, than talking and being interesting.

Julie Spira is America’s Top Online Dating Expert and Digital Matchmaker. She’s the founder of Cyber-Dating Expert, and has been coaching singles on dating online for over two digital decades. Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and Instagram. Sign up for the FREE Weekly Flirt newsletter.