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7 Ways To Have An Incredible First Date

Dating

Food prostitution. Lawd, have mercy! As I was doing my daily check-in on YouTube recently, this was one of the video topics that popped up on my list of suggestions. Being that I'm pretty familiar with Tonya TKO's channel and content, I decided to check it out. The overall gist was a woman decided to social-media-humiliate a man she went out on a date with because he took her out for pizza. Tonya's overall point is there is some sort of breakdown in the woman's character to want to be so mean to the poor guy; that we shouldn't be out here acting like "food prostitutes".


For the most part, I agree. Although I must say that I think part of the reason why there is so much unnecessary-ness that happens on the dating scene is either because 1) we need to spend more time understanding the differences between dating and courting along with what actually makes for a good date (I'll take manners over money any day!) and/or 2) we jump to go on a date with someone before determining, ahead of time, if there is enough of a connection to even go on a date with said person in the first place (more on that in a second). I personally believe that if both of these points were taken to heart more often, dates would be so much smoother.

If you've got a hot date coming up, but you're a little anxious because you can't remember the last time you actually went on a good one, I've got a few suggestions that can make time before, during and even after the date so much less stressful on your mind, body and spirit. Tips that will keep you and your date from feeling like you both had anything less than a good time.

1.Get Your Mind Right

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A couple of days ago, I checked out a video by a YouTuber named Asha C. The title of it was "5 Guaranteed Ways to Emotionally Detach!" It basically provided tips for how single women can navigate through the dating scene. Although I recommend watching all of it, if you want the bottom line, the tips are as follows:

  • Think with your head and not with heart!
  • Don't just date one person.
  • Keep yourself busy.
  • Reflect on times of premature attachment.
  • Associate emotions with surrender until a commitment is in place.

Whether you 100 percent agree with where Asha is coming from or not, what her advice does serve as a good reminder of is the fact that when you have your own mental strategy in place, that makes it so much easier to handle whatever happens on your date with another person. So yeah, take a moment to see where she's coming from, hold on to the gems that you can get on board with and then tweak where you want. A cool and confident woman is someone who is ready for whatever a date night brings her. And she's ready because she prepared herself before ever going on it.

2.Have a Couple of Phone Conversations—Ahead of Time

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One reason why I think a lot of dates fail to go very smoothly is because, unless two people already know each other pretty well beforehand, trying to establish a connection while sitting in a crowded restaurant can be awkward, to say the least. One way to avoid that is by talking on the phone before actually meeting up. You can even use that as an opportunity to get some of the "standard dating questions" out of the way. If you need a bit of a nudge, there are 137 first date questions to inspire you here.

By the way, if he refuses to talk on the phone or only wants to text, I'd take that as a bit of a red flag. Texting is about convenience, not establishing a true connection. A man who's really into you is gonna care more about the latter than the former.

3.Avoid Movies. Oh, and Drinks.

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While the two of you are on the phone discussing likes and dislikes, it's perfectly fine to slide in that you're not the biggest fan of going to the movies on a first (second or third) date. I mean, how can you truly get to know someone if both of you are sitting in the dark and staring at a movie screen? The only exception in this case is if it's a movie and then something else. But still, on a first date, I'd suggest recommending something with low noise and not a ton of crowds, if at all possible.

As far as drinks go, although having a glass of wine with dinner is cool, tipsy is the last thing you need to be—or should want to see—on a first date. Not only will a sober mind give you both a greater sense of each other's personality, it can also help you to make wise decisions (if you know what I mean).

4.Pay Attention to Your Body Language. And His.

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Most of us have heard that 80 percent of communication consists of body language (from the research I've done, it's actually somewhere between 75-90 percent). What this is a blaring reminder of is actions are truly louder than words. This is something to definitely keep in mind once you and your date are finally face to face.

I've got a friend who used to tell me that I needed to work on developing a better "screen saver". What he meant by that is my face has a tendency to reveal just about everything that I'm thinking (especially the rolling of my eyes). As I've worked on that, I've discovered that other not-so-positive forms of body language are crossing arms (it puts you on the defensive); tapping fingers or feet (it conveys impatience); slouching or slumping (it expresses boredom); not making eye contact (it communicates disinterest) and staring at your phone (it's just plain rude).

If you are or he is doing any of these things, that's sending the not-so-subtle message that the date isn't going very well, whether either of you are verbally saying that or not. If you're the one doing any of this, ask yourself if it's a bad date or your body language is a bad habit. If he's doing it, it's OK to make a joke about reading what certain types of body language indicate and then seeing what he says in response. Hey, truth in all humor…right?

5.Be a Good Communicator

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If someone were to ask me for the top reason why the first three dates tend to be a total letdown, I wouldn't say it has anything to do with attraction or chemistry. I'd say it has to do with poor communication (which is a top reason for why marriages end too). Y'all, there can be all of the physical sparks in the world, but if the two of you are not actually connecting, you're basically wasting your time.

What exactly does it take to be a winner in the communication department? You need to be able to listen (this includes letting others finish their sentences and thinking about what they said before responding). You need to ask questions (for clarification's sake) rather than going on the defensive when it comes to things that you don't necessarily agree with. You need to be tone-sensitive (if you don't want to be yelled at, don't yell). You need to embrace one another's individuality (they are not you, so they are not gonna think or act just like you do). You need to be warm and inviting (who wants to engage a person who gives one-word answers and doesn't have a pleasant attitude?). And, more than anything, you need to have fun. It's not a job interview; it's a date (which is a bit of an interview only, less stressful…if you let it be!).

6.Don’t “Fake” It

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I've got a friend who, unfortunately, is going through a divorce right now. He didn't file; his wife did (actually, 70 percent of all divorces are filed by women). As we were discussing what ultimately got things to that point, one thing he said that I wish the entire world could hear is, "I don't know what makes people think that they truly know someone in a year. So many of us are bringing who we think someone wants to see on a date rather than who they are. Then, once you marry them, you're like 'Who the hell is this?!'"

He's not the only individual who thinks that way. I can't recall if it's Chris Rock or Bishop T.D. Jakes, but one of them said that the individual who typically shows up on a date is not us but our representative. The "best" part of us.

I'm not saying to present the worst side of you when you're out on a date (that's not wise at all). What I am recommending is if you want to start from a real place, begin with acting like a real person. Don't fake a persona, just because you think that's what he'll want to see. By the way, some signs of being fake is agreeing to things that you actually disagree with, pretending to like/enjoy things that you don't or even saying that you'll go on a second date when you know nothing is really going to come from it…ever.

7.Be Polite

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We as women are always talking about chivalry, but it's important that as guys are holding doors open for us that we say "thank you" whenever they do. One of my male friends tells me all of the time that he doesn't care how good a woman looks if her energy is wack. And a person who is impolite definitely gives off bad vibes.

Unfortunately, politeness is a topic that doesn't get discussed nearly as much as it should so, just in case you were wondering what it looks like, polite people—are kind, they respect personal space, they speak the way they want to be spoken to, they don't force their opinions or perspectives on others, they are patient, they say "please" and "thank you" and they try and make others feel comfortable in their space.

We as women can set the tone for how well a date goes, just on the energy we put out alone. Be polite, require chivalry and watch how far this combo takes you—from the beginning of the date until the end.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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