Kissing, hugging, holding hands: what exactly do people expect on a first date?

First dates can be a little nerve-wracking, especially when you don’t know what to expect. Questions like: “Will he like me?”, “Can I kiss on the first date?” and “When should I get back to you about a second appointment?” they often fill any single’s mind before meeting up with a Tinder match over coffee. Dating has always had its challenges, but with endless apps and an inevitable hookup culture, it seems dating now comes with an even larger gray area.

Before you agree to drink with a match you met on Hinge, it’s worth knowing the kinds of things you can expect on a first date. We chatted with relationship experts to make sure every first date goes smoothly.

What makes dating so awkward in the first place? Well, for one thing, we may be putting too much pressure on first dates. Really, a first date is simply the time we take to get to know someone. Is the conversation flowing? Are you comfortable with them? Is a second date even worth it?

There are two main fears people have before going on a first date: What if your date doesn’t like you? What if the date was horrible? Gina Hendrix, a matchmaker in Los Angeles, suggests keeping an open mind. She thinks of every first date as a new experience, rather than trying to get approval from others.

“To overcome those nerves, you don’t have to think too much about it,” he said The independent. “They shouldn’t put too much pressure on this one interaction and should instead look at it as going out for the experience as a whole — enjoying meeting a new person, regardless of the outcome. Check out a new bar, restaurant or whatever the location is. Be there for the experience, not necessarily the person, because it puts too much pressure on everyone.

Sure, that might be easier said than done. The only way we can relieve the pressure on a first date is if we take the pressure off ourselves first, and that starts with building your confidence and self-esteem. “The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the better it will be. Just remember that the other person is definitely nervous too,” said Kate Durocher, a dating coach who lives in Los Angeles The independent. “Dating isn’t easy for anyone and the people that make it easy for are probably the people who need to take a step back and not date as much.”

Another important step before going on a first date is to make sure you know exactly what you want out of dating. Are you looking for a serious relationship or just want to have fun?

“Some people are just looking to date for fun, and I’m not necessarily OK with that, because there may be someone on the other end of the spectrum who isn’t looking to date just for fun,” Durocher said. Be direct, not only with your date, but with yourself as well.

Now it’s time for the first date. How should you greet your date, especially if the two of you have been talking online and it’s your first time meeting in person? In some cultures, it’s normal to greet with a kiss or two on the cheek, but for others, it may be too much. In that case a simple handshake or even a casual hug will suffice.

According to experts, one of the most important dating reminders is measuring your date’s comfort levels. If the conversation flows freely and there seems to be a spark between the two of you, then perhaps a nice hand over the shoulder on your way to dinner will feel natural for both of you.

“Everyone has different comfort levels,” said Sabrina Alexis Bendory, a New York City-based dating coach and co-author of women’s relationship site, A New Mode. “I personally believe you should keep physical affection to a minimum because it can cloud your judgment and create a false sense of closeness. A first date should be a time to establish fundamental compatibility and whether you have some level of mutual attraction. If you are on top of each other all the time, the chemical side of things will override your ability to see compatibility.

However, there are many debates that have stood the test of time and kissing on the first date is definitely one of them. Deciding whether or not to kiss on a first date is tricky, but experts say just trust your gut. “I don’t think there is right or wrong when it comes to kissing on the first date; it’s just how you feel, what the vibe is, what the connection is, what you’re comfortable with,” Durocher said.

Really, building a kiss should feel more like a natural progression and less like something you feel like you have to do. If you share a kiss at the end of the night because it feels right, then go for it.

“Appointments should be – there should be a cadence. It shouldn’t be something you rush into,” she added. “It has to go slow so you can build the foundation. That way if there are any red flags, you can see them.

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