Our advice for successful dating

Article 13

Inviting your date to your home for the first time

One small step over the threshold is one giant leap in a new relationship. A date at your place is quite different from a date in a pub or restaurant, where you can present the side of yourself that you want your companion to see. Your home reveals much more about the real you.

This may sound like a nerve-wracking experience, but chances are it'll be thoroughly enjoyable for you both. Your date will feel far closer to you than before, you'll get to show off your home, and your budding relationship will take another step forward. Here are a few guidelines for making the most of your evening at home.

Present a clean home front

A dirty or untidy home is a serious turn-off. Your home is a reflection of you, and you don't want your new date to associate you with being disorganised. Tidying up for visitors is a common courtesy, and failure to do so suggests that you don't care about their comfort or approval.

Don’t tidy away your personality

It's tempting but unwise to edit your bookshelves, decor and music collection to fit in with your date's own tastes. Hide a few embarrassments if you must, but don't mould your home to fit what you think your companion is looking for. If he or she genuinely likes you, they'll embrace the tastes you don't have in common as well as the ones that you do. Your home environment is part of who you are, so be proud of that.

If they’re not local, help them get their bearings

Unless they live round the corner make an effort to go and meet them at a local pub or station so that they don’t feel pressured to navigate their way to your home unaided. They'll appreciate the gesture and are sure to feel more relaxed.

Give them space

You might want to give your guest a quick tour of your humble abode, but don't follow them every time they get up for the loo. And if they want to look through your books or CDs, let them, they are all part of who you are. Resist the urge to tidy up around them. You should aim to make them feel comfortable around you, and you won't instil comfort by fussing and fretting (“are you alright? Honestly? I can change the music if you like?” … you know what we mean).

Keep dinner simple

It's a lovely idea to cook a meal for your date, but not if it means leaving them alone and hungry while you busy yourself in the kitchen for hours on end. Have most of the cooking done by the time they arrive, and then enlist their help with the finishing touches. Or get a takeaway. It's not “cheating,” and your date will probably welcome the chance to choose what he or she eats.

Keep you invitation exclusive

If you share your home with your children or housemates, let them know beforehand that you'd like some time alone with your date. Introduce them, of course, but don't invite them to join you (this is what babysitters are for). Their presence at this early stage could be quite uncomfortable for your guest, especially if they represent an ongoing link to your ex.

Dogs and cats needn't be banished, but warn your date of their presence beforehand. Phobias and allergies are not conducive to romance!

Saying goodnight

Depending on how long you’ve been dating, you and your partner may see the invitation to spend a romantic evening at your house as an invitation to stay the night. If the evening has gone well, you may feel ready to take this step, but if you aren’t, don't feel guilty about putting the brakes on. If your new partner is right for you, they’ll be ready to take things at your pace. However, it’s important that your date knows that you’ve not lost interest in them. Be frank about your reasons for not being ready, and reassure them that it's a timing issue. Hopefully you'll get a cuddle for being so honest and can arrange another date within a few days.

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