Meeting Mr. Right: 10 Ways to Make a Great First Impression

Picture this. You and the cutest guy you've ever glimpsed are on an elevator speeding down to the ground floor. Or the scene is the grocery store and the handsome hunk of your desires is squeezing melons in the next aisle. Your palms are sweaty; your mouth is dry. If you don't say or do the right thing, your window of opportunity to hook this handsome stranger will close. What's an interested singleton to do?

For advice on guerrilla-style flirting, we went to Adele Testani, cofounder of the fun and ever-expanding HurryDate franchise. You've probably heard of the speed-dating program, where singles gather to meet and greet for designated eight-minute intervals. At HurryDate events, hopeful singles participate in a succession of round robin three-minute dates. Talk about the boot camp of first impressions: Theoretically, each person could score 25 matches in one night! Testani, who oversees the action, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly antics of those pushing (perhaps too hard) to make a connection.

In the tradition of profiting from other's mistakes, here are Testani's do's and don'ts of making a good impression with the opposite sex:

  1. Relax.
  2. Catch the "fun bug."
  3. Don't knock yourself out trying to be clever.
  4. The eyes have it.
  5. Use the magic touch.
  6. Be ready for viewing.
  7. Slouch not.
  8. It's not all about you.
  9. Have opinions but don't be too opinionated.
  10. Be yourself.

1. Relax.
Testani has seen those overeager to impress make many mistakes, ranging from talking way too fast to spilling a drink on their intended to tipping over a table. She says, "Before you launch into your clever spiel that you are sure will attract the other person, take a deep breath. Have a brief reality check. What happens in the next few minutes is not that important in the scheme of things. Just try to have fun and not be too tied to the outcome."

2. Catch the "fun bug."
Don't be Serious Sarah. Surely you've noticed how everyone gravitates to the person in the room who looks most like she's enjoying herself. Testani says, "Looking like you're having a good time is contagious. Besides, you're probably cuter when you smile."

3. Don't knock yourself out trying to be clever.
Think about how much you hate guys' lame pickup lines. That's because they're usually forced and unnatural. The best line is no line. Try, "Hello, my name is ..."

4. The eyes have it.
"Looking in the direction of a guy's crotch is as rude as him staring at your bosom," warns the dating expert. She adds, "It isn't much better to look off to the side or at another person." Gaze warmly into his eyes and hopefully one day soon you'll be gazing together at the moon.

5. Use the magic touch.
Lightly, lightly now. You don't want to frighten the person by being aggressive, but if the situation warrants, it's fine to reach out and give a casual pat. Testani says, "For example, if he says something funny (there could be humor in melon-squeezing), you can touch his arm. His reaction will be a good way to gauge if he's interested." If he doesn't lean in toward you or touch you back, he's probably not into you. Sorry. Even if he is interested, you should confine the touching to nonsexual areas. Testani laughs, "I've seen couples who hook up at our events necking in the bathroom. That's too much touching too soon."

6. Be ready for viewing.
It sounds obvious, but whenever you go out make sure you look your best. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, slap on that coat of lipstick, and don't wear clothes with holes, even if you're just going to the grocery store. The HurryDate head explains, "Men don't like high-maintenance women who take nine hours to put makeup on but it's a huge turnoff if you don't think enough of yourself to take care of yourself."

7. Slouch not.
Just as good posture shows confidence, slouching or standing with your arms folded across your chest sends an insecure message. Testani says, "You emit a stronger, more attractive aura when you sit or stand up straight."

8. It's not all about you.
Especially in situations where every second literally counts it's good not to monopolize the conversation with tales of your remarkable exploits. Testani says, "During HurryDate parties I walk around the room and sometimes hear people putting themselves out there like Mother Theresa crossed with Gandhi. The other person's eyes are usually glazed over. Save some stories for the first date."

9. Have opinions but don't be too opinionated.
Strike that balance between agreeing with everything the other person says (being a blank slate is boring) and attacking everything he says as being wrong-minded. Testani says, "Just because someone's -- gasp! -- a Republican doesn't mean he doesn't belong on the planet."

10. Be yourself.
"Mom was right about this one," Testani says. "It will eventually boomerang if you package yourself in a way that's an exaggeration or an outright lie." Put another way: Don't say you're a vegetarian if you really eat meat.

11. Close with confidence.
Okay, we lied. Here's an eleventh tip for the price of 10. Offer your hand for a shake and say with assurance (even if you're quaking inside), "It's been nice talking to you. Maybe we can do it again -- for a slightly longer period. Here's my card." And you're outta there. Always leave 'em wanting more.

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