Gay Dating 101: 9 Tips for a Successful First Date

Whether you’re technically open to an eventual relationship or just want to keep things casual for now, it goes without saying that first dates never really get any easier for most of us. Sure, we want to have a good time ourselves, but we want that other person to like what they see and be glad they gave us their time as well. After all, no one wants to be the guy that becomes another person’s go-to “bad date” story, right?

Thankfully, dating successfully is a skill that can actually be learned. This is the case whether you’re all about hooking up right now or ultimately looking for something more serious. The following tips can help you make sure you leave your next first date talking about you for all the right reasons.

1. Be safe when choosing who (and where) to meet.

No matter what you’re looking for from the experience, meeting a total stranger online and deciding to hook up is nothing if not exciting. It feels good to follow your instincts and be totally spontaneous. After all, you could wind up having the hottest gay sex of your life or starting your next great relationship and you’ll never know unless you go for it.

Just make sure you’re doing things safely to ensure your evening goes the way you want. If you do decide to meet for a date, choose a public place. Make sure you have your phone with you and maintain easy access to your own transportation solutions at all times whether that means taking your own car or being prepared to order an Uber in a pinch. Last but not least, resist the temptation to get drunk or high before or during your date. Not only will it be harder to take advantage of you if you’re clear-headed, but you’ll be a better date as well.

2. Put some effort into your look for the evening.

When you’re really looking to impress someone, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that looks matter. That said, make sure you’re putting the right amount of sexy guy getting readyeffort into your own look for the evening. Don’t dress in the same clothes you’d wear to lounge around the house, but don’t overdress either. Ultimately your look needs to be appropriate for whatever activities you have planned for the evening.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re on time. Don’t leave your date waiting, but don’t show up ridiculously early either. This person is taking time out of their busy life to spend with you. Be respectful of that fact and show up when you said you’d show up.

3. Act natural and be yourself.

Yes, of course you want to impress your date. Yes, we’re all at times tempted to do this by embellishing or even outright pretending to be someone we’re not. Just keep in mind that most of us also have at least one story we could tell about the time we saw through someone who was an obvious fake. It’s fine to want to put your best foot forward, but do it by being the best possible version of yourself.

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Although it might be easier said than done, try not to overthink every little thing. First dates can be stressful and nerve-wracking for even the most successful daters, but keep in mind that it’s a first date for the other person as well. At the end of the day, you’re both only human and it’s the most human thing in the world to be a little anxious. Just relax, have fun, and focus on enjoying one another’s company.

4. Be prepared to break the ice.

Even if you’re ultimately getting together for a casual gay hookup, it’s unlikely that there won’t be any conversation involved whatsoever. Be prepared to hold up your end of at least a couple of interesting exchanges. You may or may not be interested in truly getting to know the other person just depending on the situation, but conversation is always the key to breaking the ice and getting comfortable with one another.

Ask him what he’s into or what he likes to do with his free time. Then show actual interest in his answers. Share a funny story of your own if you have one that relates to the topic at hand. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always talk about something everyone’s into to one degree or another (i.e. movies, TV, or music). Just make sure you’re not letting your date do all the talking.

5. Put your phone on the back burner.

You probably already know that you should focus on your date instead of your phone if you want your first date to be successful. Tuck it away and save your email checks for when you have a few moments to yourself.

You’ll also want to put your phone on silent. After all, you don’t want a great conversation or a hot make-out session to be interrupted by incoming calls or noisy ringtones. You probably don’t want the telltale “pop” of a Grindr notification killing the mood at the worst possible time either. It doesn’t matter if that’s where you met him. No one wants to be reminded that they’re one of several prospects you’re probably considering.

6. Leave social media out of the equation as well.

two gay men having fun in bedSo let’s say you’ve really hit it off with someone promising. You’ve got that first date all lined up and you’re relatively sure it’s going to be successful because of how in synch your chats so far have been. Don’t jump the gun and add your date on Facebook or Instagram before you’ve even gone out. Don’t do it immediately after you’ve just gotten together for the first time either.

If you haven’t gone out yet, there’s always the chance things won’t go as well as you hope. If you have gotten together, it’s possible that he wasn’t as stoked about your meet-up as you were. That’s when being connected on social media officially gets awkward. Do you unfriend him? Do you wait for him to unfriend you? Do you just suffer through his “why do I always meet losers” status updates in complete discomfort? These are awkward questions no one wants to have to ask themselves.

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7. Take it easy on the labels.

At the end of the day, gay men just plain have a tendency to label other gay men. This one’s a bear while that one’s an otter, a dilf, or a gym bunny. In fact, it’s pretty likely that most of us have personally done it at one time or another. However, it’s also relatively safe to say that we really hate being labeled ourselves.

That said, unless you’ve already heard your date enthusiastically refer to himself as a twink or a chub with complete comfort, stick to generic terms when you’re addressing him. If he expresses surprise that other gay men label him a certain way, feign surprise yourself even if he totally fits the stereotype. Then let the conversation move into territory that’s less likely to result in hurt feelings or lingering resentment.

8. Don’t talk about your exes.

If there’s one dating rule that ought to be number one whether you’re gay, straight, or bi, it’s this one. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s the best way to help him get to know you or if you’re only bringing it up because it’s relevant to the current topic of conversation. No one wants to hear about the other guys you’ve dated or successfully hooked up with in the past on a first date.

If you’re talking about a relationship, you run the risk of seeming like you’re not over the guy yet. If you’re just talking about someone you hooked up with once, you run the risk of looking like you’re trying to come across as a player. Either way, making the conversation all about some other guy is a really bad look for a first date. Don’t do it.

9. Don’t forget to have a blast.

Sometimes we worry so much about making the right first impression on a date that we forget we’re actually there in the first place to have fun. That said, do your best to check your anxieties at the door, get lost in the moment, and have fun. You’ll enjoy yourself more. Plus, fun is contagious, so you’ll increase the likelihood that your date will enjoy himself more as well.

And speaking of fun, make sure you end your first date on a successful note. Thank him for meeting up with you and giving you his time. If you enjoyed yourself, tell him so, as there’s really no reason not to. If he enjoyed himself as well, he won’t have to hesitate about calling you up again sometime. If he didn’t, then at least you know you put yourself out there and didn’t leave the wrong things up for interpretation. Plus, confidence and comfort in one’s own skin are sexy. Try it and see for yourself.


Rob West

Rob West

I worked with Matt to build several hookup apps for gay men, including Guyhop.

I've been in the scene for several years now. Eternally single until I find "him".

My background is in marketing and psychology, which gives me a unique perspective on the LGBTQ dating and hookup scene.