There’s nothing necessarily bad or wrong about being intense. When you think about it, we’re all intense in our own way—but often that’s only when we’ve got to know and trust someone enough to let them see our vulnerabilities. However, if you have a habit of being intense on a first date, you’re sending off warning signals that you’re not relationship material, because if everything is all-or-nothing when you barely know each other, your date is going to be wondering how it would be if you did start dating.

Intensity on a first date can manifest in all sorts of ways. It might come in the form of wealth flaunting—that is, planning an unnecessarily lavish or extravagant date when the whole point is just to get to know each other. It might appear physically, with excess touching or overtly flirtatious or sexual body language. Or someone might be too emotionally intense, coming across as needy, desperate or lacking in confidence.

And let’s not mince our words here—we have all been guilty of having been too intense. It’s understandable: we go into a first date full of hopes and expectations, and if we’re already a little unsteady from past relationships or dating experiences then it can be hard to come across as cool and level-headed. But if this is you, don’t worry—as a matchmaker, I see clients struggling with their own intensity all the time. And that’s why today I’ve laid out 5 ways to manage your own on that all-important first date.

1. Avoid intense eye contact

Excessive eye contact is seriously unnerving, and it’s a surefire way to put a date off for good. Some people seek to maintain eye contact almost like they want to lock it into gear. This makes people nervous because it implies possessiveness or a domineering attitude. So don’t switch on the laser beams with your date—because you may end up not seeing them again.

2. Don’t focus too much on the future

If your first date’s going well, it’s only natural to jump ahead and start envisioning future dates and other shared activities. But try to keep that stuff in your head for the time being. Too much future talk is a sure sign of intensity, because it can come across like you’re attempting to secure a verbal agreement for your date to see you again, even if that’s not remotely what you’re trying to do. Play it cool as best you can—if the date has gone as well as you feel, they will want to see you again. Don’t rush.

3. Don’t be overly emotional

Let me be crystal-clear here: going on a first date is not about presenting a facade of yourself whereby you appear to have no flaws, no baggage, no insecurities. Unless your date is on another planet and has begun romanticising you into an idol, they will know that you have your own issues just like everyone else. The key isn’t to shy away from these, but rather not to dwell on them as your defining characteristics (even if deep down you feel they are). By presenting a healthy and balanced version of yourself, you’re not lying either to yourself or to your date, but rather showing them all your best bits. And if you get to know each other further, that’s when any remaining pretence will slip organically away, and you can start to be truly vulnerable in one another’s company.

4. Know the line between physical affection and inappropriateness

Take things slowly. Incidental moments of touch heighten the romance on a first date: a hand on the back as you walk through the restaurant; your fingers lightly brushing against theirs as you both reach for the menu; a hand on the arm to emphasise a point. Touch is inevitable, even desirable, when two people spend time together to assess their romantic compatibility. And when it happens lightly and spontaneously, it’s a flash of evidence that you’re both willing to honour one another’s boundaries while still acknowledging the possibility of future closeness. But if someone is clearly after only one thing (and it doesn’t take a genius to work out when they are), the date’s probably hurtling towards a premature end. Or even if they’re not overtly sexual, they might be excessively touchy because they mistakenly believe they can ‘force’ the affection merely by going through the motions. But genuine affection can only grow through emotional intimacy, and the desire for touch comes thereafter.

5. Don’t flaunt your wealth

A first date is basically a chance to see if someone is a reasonable person or to be avoided like the plague. So if you pick them up in a limo, take them to the glitziest restaurant in town and let off ten doves as the after-dinner coffee’s brewing, you’re conflating a flaunting of your wealth with coming across as a desirable partner. It’s best to start off with something low-key, relaxed and inherently inexpensive. Of course, it’s nice if someone does incidentally have money, but you can show that in other ways, most notably by dressing well or turning up in an amazing car. But by ensuring the date clearly centres around getting to know each other rather than admiring your stacks of cash, you show that you don’t think money is the be-all-and-end-all, and that you’re looking for romance above all else.

Enthusiasm is key on a first date—but it’s not the same as intensity

Giddiness doesn’t read as enthusiasm on a first date—it reads as anxiety. And anxiety isn’t sexy. Why? Because it implies that you’re not confident in yourself, and therefore that you might be prone to latching on to someone else to make you feel good. So if you struggle with being a little too ‘into’ first dates, try mitigating that by planning a date with a distraction: the cinema, a play, a concert. You still have the opportunity to talk and get to know each other, but there will also be space for you to calm down in the gaps. And remember: dating someone intense isn’t sustainable. So don’t be that person—because it’s not only that your date deserves better, but that you deserve better, too. Work on yourself first, and the romance will follow in good time.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.