Enter the dating scene with clear goals and motives in mind. Know what you're looking for before you go on a date. Spend some time thinking about what qualities you value in a partner; decide which are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves, and stick to your decision. Figure out whether you want to get married within a couple of years, enjoy a long-term serious relationship or just keep it casual. Be upfront about both your goals and motives with each date.
Choose a locale that neither of you have been to — perhaps a restaurant that recently opened. Ask if she has any dietary restrictions or allergies to help narrow your choices. Pick a low-key, non-threatening environment where you'll both feel comfortable. Make any necessary reservations well in advance. Read up on current events before your date, and have a news item or two on hand if conversation stalls. Learn a little about your date before meeting, if possible, so that you can ask better questions. Plan your outfit a day or two ahead of time to avoid rushing. The day of the date, give yourself an ample time cushion to ensure you arrive on time.
Your appearance is a powerful indicator of who you are. Dress neatly and practice good hygiene. For a guy, consider a clean-shaven look. For a woman, avoid excessive makeup or jewelry. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable and attractive in — not too tight or too loose — and shoes that you can walk in easily. However, consider adding a conversation piece to your outfit; a button advertising a favorite cause or an eye-catching necklace, for example. Decide what you want your look to say about you, and ask close friends or family to help you give your look an update if need be. During the date, do not mention your or your date's body, but do compliment his stylish jeans or her pretty dress.
Focus on the other person throughout your date. Ask open-ended questions to get your date talking, but don't pry. Listen respectfully without interruption or argument. Avoid complaining about anything, which is frequently construed as unattractive or high-maintenance qualities. Discuss current events, but keep it friendly and neutral. Avoid hot-button political issues, such as abortion. Share some of your plans and goals, and encourage your date to do the same. In addition to providing insight into your date's values, this can help you decide if the two of you have long-term compatibility.