5 things you should do on a first date if you’re looking for a relationship that will last

How wonderful would it be if we could all have a glimpse into the future to let us know whether a blissful first date will lead to a lasting relationship? Like, someone get a psychic on the line ASAP. We’ve seen all sorts of expert advice about what to do if you want a lasting relationship, but like any well-meaning tips on navigating the dating scene, they’re not always fool-proof. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it feels physically impossible to avoid getting into a relationship with a jerk or a person who’s just not on the same page with you in terms of what you need from a partner.

Perhaps they’re still interested in playing the field but feel it’s necessary to conceal that on the first date (ugh, why?!?), or maybe this wonderful individual who agreed to meet you for coffee has a gnarly commitment phobia that makes even looking you in the eye a monumental task.

You obviously can’t control all of your first date circumstances, but there are some things you can do if you’re looking for a relationship that will last.

1Make your intentions known.

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A first date definitely isn’t the time to whip out the wedding magazines or have the “I want kids ASAP” convo, but it’s appropriate to let the person know you’re looking for something long-term. This keeps you from wasting your precious dating time (and theirs, too) if you find out upfront that you’re not aiming for the same outcome.

2Steer clear of the ex talk.

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You want your date to know that you’re searching for a stable relationship that will last — not something that’s in your past. Even if your ex stalks you on social media and threatened to crash your date, resist the urge to babble on about how they’re a shitty human being who deserves to rot alone for eternity.

If the subject of your ex comes up on a first date, feel free to answer honestly…but not in a way that gives the impression that you’re not ready for something serious with another person.

3Be your authentic self.

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This is pretty general, solid life advice, but being your authentic self is even more important on the first date, specifically if you’re interested in a relationship that will go the distance.

We all tend to present the best version of ourselves on first dates, but be sure that ideal image you present isn’t a complete farce. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you’re completely mesmerized by the Greek god(dess) sitting across from you, who also happens to loathe all of your favorite foods/TV shows/clothing/hobbies, realize that hiding your true self only makes it that much more difficult to attract a partner who likes you for you, and not some false stand-in who you think makes you appear to be more likable.

4Ask thoughtful questions.

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These questions should be introduced a bit after the ice-breakers and the vapid filler convos, but way before the check comes. Sometimes those personal questions you ask on a first date can be the determining factor between whether you want to keep dating this person or swipe left IRL.

5Pay attention to red flags.

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In a perfect dating world, you would automatically find the ideal long-term partner who meets all your criteria on the first date. But since searching for that right one tends to be hella complicated (if you’ve ever watched an episode of Catfish, you know this to be true), the onus is on you to spot the signs that something just isn’t right with your first date.

Pay close attention when you notice things that let you know the person sitting across from you definitely isn’t The One, and don’t hesitate to move on. We often put so much energy into finding that long-term situation that we ignore obvious red flags and wind up sabotaging ourselves in the process.

If you’re looking for that someone who will make your heart sing for a long time to come, put your best first date foot forward, keep your relationship priorities in mind, and make sure you don’t settle on something that just feels right for the moment when you’re truly in search of a person who’s in it for the long haul.