First dates are both exhilarating and a bit frightening.  And sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between these two feelings.  No wonder — these emotions arouse virtually the same areas in the brain.

Even more confusing, when you feel anxious, you often don’t think clearly. 

California educator Judy Willis discovered that stress prompts the brain’s amygdala, which regulates emotions, to function in overdrive. 

This increased stimulation impedes your brain’s neo-cortex from performing critical thinking and making sound judgments and decisions.

But what can you do to keep your wits about you when you are excited about going out with a particular man?  

And if you think you always have a clear head about you in the midst of highly charged events, think again.

According to the National Women’s Study one in four women experiences date rape.  Few of these women report the incident, and those that do, say that they were caught off guard.
So, even if you are a savvy, street-smart woman, here are some tips about both your safety and your dating behavior in general on a first date.

5 Tips to be Safe and Smart

1. Don’t think you know the man just because a good friend fixed you up.

Smart women know that even well-known men can have two selves — a public and a private self. 

When notorious serial killer Ted Bundy was convicted, his fiancé, colleagues and neighbors were shocked. 

“He was such a fine and kind man,” they said.

Develop a safety plan that at least includes:

  • You have about $50-$100 dollars on you in a safe place, such as in your socks or pinned inside a pouch in your bra.
  • You tell your friends, co-workers and family where you are going and with whom.  Of course, you can only get this information if you ask your date ahead of time where you are going! 
  • Don’t be tempted to leave all the decisions up to him.  When you are so excited to be going out with him, you tend to not want to rock the boat. But rock it!  Your life is more important than protecting a man.
  • Dial down your enthusiasm and desire to be desired.  In fact, the more you experience excitement about being chosen, the more you should put on your thinking cap.
  • You know how to get home from your date.  You should know the exact address, where to park if you drive, and the availability of taxis and subways.
  • Keep your mind clear and your eye on your food and drink.  Limit yourself to one or no drinks. And don’t leave your food or drink unattended.  Go to the restroom before you get a drink or your meal, and after you finished your entire meal.

2. Don’t wear your most provocative clothes.

You don’t need to entice him with your body.  Let your inner qualities capture his attention. 

You can never go wrong with simple and classic clothes. 

If you want to add a touch of your self-expression, do it by bringing a fun handbag or wearing a distinct necklace or jacket.

3. Don’t waste your time asking less informative questions. 

The goal of a date is to assess your man correctly.

Don’t fall for the typical assumption that you should share lots of common interests. 

As a result, dates waste their time asking about preferences in music, sports, careers or movies.

Yes, it’s wisest to share common values and some common interests. 

However, couples research shows that mutually happy, long-term couples cultivate divergent interests and establish separate identities.

Instead, ask questions that give you a deeper understanding of your date.  Have fun with it.

For example, you could ask:

  • Are you brave enough to give me an honest, undressed up description of a typical week in your life? 
  • If your exes were here, what would they tell me are your best qualities?
  • What don’t you want to repeat in your next serious relationship?

Your goal is to get a living picture of your man.

4. On the other hand, don’t spend too much of your time on dates that involve more talking than doing. 

Actions can speak far louder than words. 

Spend time on your date in the real world so you can observe your date’s interactions with other people—and you.

Pay attention to how he treats others. 

Does he talk too much about himself — or not at all? 

Does he try to impress you with a running critique of things?  Or, is he too much of a charmer? 

Look for that too much-ness factor.  If you come feeling high, be wary!

5. Don’t wait for that feeling of instant chemistry to determine whether you will go out again with this person.

Chemistry for healthy relationships often takes time. 

Chemistry can make you repeat your past choices.

That feeling of an instant connection can come from sources that might not be good for you such as:

  • You are lonely or getting older or you are not in such a good place emotionally in your life right now.
  • You are unconsciously or consciously loyal to unhealthy aspects of your family of origin. As a result, you find yourself attracted to men who recreate maladaptive relationships.

Instead, use this date time to test your intuition

And that means going out on another date to gauge your people-reading abilities.

Most of all — have fun.  Research also shows that mutually happy long-term couples know how to laugh. 

Having a good sense of humor is one sign of someone who can roll with the punches of life and rebound stronger.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. LeslieBeth (LB) Wish, IAAW Premium Expert, is a nationally recognized psychologist and licensed clinical social worker honored for her pioneering work with women’s issues in love, life, work and family. The National Association of Social Workers has named her as One of the Fifty who has contributed to the field, and by Marquis’ Who’s Who publications. Her latest self-help, research-based books are Smart Relationships: How Successful Women Can Find True Love, and The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie, the cartoon companion book where you can follow a year of Cookie’s love missteps and learn about yours! Go to her website