How to Greet a Girl on the First Date

Fact Checked by: Rychel Johnson, M.S., LCPC

First impressions are important. This is a universal truth that does not go away when you’re talking about greeting a girl on a first date. Those first few seconds of meeting can set your date up for success or set you both up for an awkward night. In this guide, we’re going to talk about how to greet a girl on the first date. We’ll discuss what you should be doing and equally importantly what you should not be doing.

singles greeting each other at a table in a cafe on a date

To Hug or Not to Hug?

If you notice, we skipped right over “to kiss or not to kiss.” We do not care if you are of French or Cuban or whatever heritage you come from that kisses people when you greet them. Do not kiss someone you are just meeting on a first date. It might be cool in other situations, but you need to be respectful on your first date. You don’t know what your date is going to be comfortable with, and you can really shoot yourself in the foot right off the bat.

Now, when it comes to hugging, that is going to be up to you. What we recommend you do is go with the half hug and commit to it. What do we mean? Well, let’s break it down. When we say the half hug, we mean the one arm, sometimes two arm hug that you’d give to a stranger that you just met or maybe someone at church or a buddy you haven’t seen in a while. The best way to describe this hug is it’s usually at an angle with your head turned to the side hugging half of their body. We hope that makes some sort of sense.

Don’t give them a full on, two-armed, intimate hug that lasts for anything more than just half a second. This will feel creepy and will certainly set your date off to a terrible start. Go with the friend hug, not the romantic hug on a first date. If you’re confused or not sure what is okay, then just opt for no hug.

But, we do feel a quick friend type hug does break that awkward physical barrier that sometimes exists on a first date. Do what you are comfortable with and don’t pressure your date to do something they aren’t comfortable with. If she pulls away when you go in for a hug, abandon ship.

But, as long as she does not pull away, commit to giving the friendly hug. The weirdest thing you can do is halfway commit to giving a hug. You’ll find yourself awkwardly standing there with your arm out, and it’ll look really weird, and you will feel awkward. If you’re going to give the greeting hug, then commit to going for it and only quit if they seem to pull away or act like they’re not feeling it.

Do Not Shake Hands

If you elect not to go for the hug or you go for it, and you jump ship part way through, do not replace that with a handshake. How can we say this clearer? DO NOT SHAKE HANDS WHEN YOU GREET A GIRL ON A FIRST DATE. Sorry for yelling, but this is super important. Shaking hands is something you do with someone at work or your parent’s friends. If you’d like to have a romantic relationship with the girl you’re going out with, then don’t shake her hand when you greet her for the first time. Actually, there are zero times when you’re going to want to shake her hand on any dates ever in your entire life.

Some Great First Date Greetings You Can Use

So, we’ve covered what you should physically be doing when you first greet a girl on a first date, but what do you say? Obviously, you can’t just walk up and half-hug the girl and say nothing. Let’s talk about what you should say by starting with a few example greetings. Let’s pretend your first date is with a girl named Sarah.

“You must be Sarah! Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Sarah? Hey! I’m Bob. It’s awesome to finally meet you.”

“Hey! You made it! It’s great to meet you in person.”

Seriously, it is that simple. You want to confirm that you’re greeting the right person and once you do, you want to let them know that you’re excited to meet them. You’re not really looking for a verbal answer confirming they are who you think they are. But, instead, you’re looking for a physical reaction that confirms or denies you’re talking to the right person. If they start smiling and coming towards you, it’s probably them. If they give you a puzzled who are you talking to look, then you might not have the right girl.

Also, it hopefully goes without saying, but you should be smiling while all of this is going on.

Read: How to Treat a Woman on the First Date

Plan a Detailed Meeting Spot

We unearthed something in the last section that we want to address. If you’re meeting a girl from online dating, there is a chance that she might not look exactly like she does in her pictures. This could be on purpose, or it just might be the fact that people sometimes look different in person. Our guess is that your question is not how to greet a girl on the first date, but it’s in fact how to successfully greet the right girl on the first date.

How can you ensure that you’re meeting with the right girl? Well, we already gave you one tip of how to do it based on what you say when you’re greeting them on the first date and the physical cues that you look for. But, another good thing to do to really ensure things go smoothly is plan a detailed meeting spot.

If you make it very clear where you will be, then it’s a lot more challenging to end up greeting the wrong girl. The key here is the details. For example, let’s say that you decide you’re going to grab drinks for your first date. Instead of saying, “Hey, I’ll meet you at Smokey’s Pub,” say something more specific like, “Hey, I’ll meet you at 7pm outside of Smokey’s Pub. There’s a bench out front I’ll be sitting on so you can’t miss me!”

You’ve also gone ahead and made your date less nervous that they might not find you. Some people get nervous having to walk into a new place without knowing exactly who they are looking for. By giving them exact details about where you’re going to greet them on the first date, you take away this fear. You’ll also notice that we recommend meeting them outside instead of going inside. It just makes things much less nerve-wracking for the woman you are meeting.

Make Eye Contact Not Chest Contact

When you greet a girl on the first date, you are probably going to be tempted to check her out. While there is nothing wrong with that because physical attraction is important, you want to make sure that you don’t look like a perv or a dog. When you greet her, make eye contact. Don’t get caught staring at her chest, her butt, her whatever it is that you’re into. Even if she’s wearing something sexy, overcome the temptation and earn those gentleman brownie points.

Greet Her On Time

The last thing we want to talk about comes straight from our Ultimate First Date Checklist as well as our list of first date mistakes. What is so important that we felt the need to put it in two different guides? Be on time. You have got to be on time for your date. In fact, you’re better off being a few minutes early. Women love men who are reliable, and if she can’t rely on you even to show up on time for the first date, she’s going to wonder if you’re just unreliable. Plan accordingly and make sure you get there on time.

Additional Resources

The above information helps answer the question of how to greet a girl on the first date, but that’s only the beginning of the date. There is a lot more that goes into the first date. If you’d like some more help, check out our first date advice section that is chalked full of guides, tools, and resources to help you have the best first date possible.

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.