It’s date night. You and a gal have been out a few times and tonight you’ve invited her over your place for the first time for a dinner you’re whipping up yourself. The chicken’s in the oven, you look dapper, and you’ve applied a manly aftershave. When you hear her knock, you open the door to your apartment, your date steps inside, and she looks…kind of turned off. What went wrong?! With clear eyes for the first time, you see that your bachelor pad is the culprit. It’s messy, it’s smelly, and it’s uninviting to anyone of the opposite sex.
You can have everything go right on a date, only to ruin it with an unpresentable living space. Making a good first impression with what you call home shows your main squeeze that you care, but it also shows what kind of man you are. It will give her a sense of your personality, and also your personal responsibility. Don’t blow the golden opportunity to impress your date the second she crosses the threshold into your place.
In researching this article, we got information from the ladies themselves via Reddit (fair warning, as with anything on Reddit, it can get fairly vulgar) and Facebook about what makes a good first impression.
We’ll look at a few general guidelines, and then delve into some room-to-room pointers.
Get Rid of the Man-Funk
Smell is probably the most cited infraction for men’s bachelor pads. It has the potential to offend the nose as soon as your gal steps into your home. Follow these tips and you’ll be okay in the olfactory realm.
Start a couple days early. If you know you’re having a lady over to your place in advance, even if it’s just a chance, start right away. If there’s some lingering or deep-seated scent, it won’t go away in the hour before her arrival. Perhaps even bring in an objective party to let you know what/where smells the worst. You’ve been living in it, so you won’t necessarily know.
Eliminate the most obvious smell offenders. If it’s not some mystery banana peel behind the couch, the smell in your place is likely the result of multiple offenses. Do your dirty laundry (including bed sheets). It doesn’t take long for those sweaty gym clothes to reek. Take out the trash. Those fresh vegetables you chopped two weeks ago have gone rotten. We’ll cover the bathroom more in-depth later, but get an air freshener in there ASAP. Do the dirty dishes and run the disposal in the sink if you have one — those are two big contributors to smelly spaces that you wouldn’t necessarily think of.
Go easy on the Axe. Many a well-intentioned man, realizing his place smells funky, will decide to give everything an Axe (or other scent) spray down. Mixing this smell with any other kind of odor is a recipe for disaster. A very light spray after you’ve cleaned is fine, but don’t be tempted to think that a thick coating will cover up the smells of your apartment.
Be Clean, Not Sterile
“All I care about is that it’s relatively clean, but not sterile looking. I do actually want to be in your apartment — not a furniture showroom.”
General cleanliness seemed to be the second biggest offender in a fella’s bachelor pad. A quick look on Reddit will show that ladies have far too often dealt with beer bottles strewn about, unmade beds, used dishes on every surface, etc.
Now, hopefully you know what general cleanliness looks like. But if you don’t, bring in a lady-friend of yours to give some pointers on what she’s seeing.
A few items to definitely take care of:
- Vacuum. No bachelor in the world vacuums his place enough. It really does wonders for how clean a place feels.
- Mop/dust any wood or tile floors. Even baseboards; apparently this is noticeable and makes a difference.
- Dust other surfaces — counters, shelves, wood furniture, etc. Pick up some Pledge and go all around the house. This is an easy job, and contributes greatly to overall cleanliness.
- Have the dishes done and away. All of them. This was perhaps my biggest offense as a bachelor. I would leave dishes out, all over my place, for days, and on rare occasions, for weeks (in which case it was easier to throw the dish away than try to clean it). Don’t do that.
- Make the bed. More on this later.
- Pick up your stuff. Be organized. Have a place for everything, and have everything in its place.
- It’s okay to have some quirk. The quote at the beginning of this section is a good indicator as to most women’s feeling on cleanliness based on the comments we saw. Not every surface has to be totally sterile, just organized. Have a small stack of books on the side table. Feel free to leave some work papers out on your desk. Most gals want a home to look lived in, not like a showroom.
Hint: This job will be easier if you have a weekly cleaning plan in place.
Display Your Personality
“Have something unique that reveals something about your personality: artwork on the wall, books, a modest set-up for their computer/TV/etc, a musical instrument, and so forth.”
You can be sure that once a woman enters your abode for the first time, she’ll be looking around for those things that display your hobbies and interests. She’ll take a look at your bookshelf, your DVD collection, the art/photos on your wall, and anything else she can find that shows your personality.
Get your hands on some manly art for your walls. Lose the posters of the babes. That’s for high school boys. Lose the never-ending sports memorabilia. Having a few pieces is fine, but having your pad draped in your team’s colors will be a turn-off. Don’t leave your walls blank, either. That would contribute to that feeling of sterileness mentioned above. Honestly, a trip to your local Goodwill for some cheap, framed art is one of your best bets. Landscapes are always a manly winner.
Put up some photos. In addition to hanging up some manly art, display some photos on your shelves or wall. Pick photos that say something about your life — you and your family, you in a different country, you at the finish line of a marathon. Pictures are some of the easiest conversation starters — your date will be sure to look them over and ask you questions about them.
Don’t hide things. Unless it’s a large photo of yourself above your bed (yes, one woman mentioned that), it’s probably okay to keep your nerdy collection/hobby out. Don’t feel the need to hide yourself. If there is something you enjoy, you’ll want your date to be okay with the things you care about and like to do. One woman mentioned she knew her boyfriend was the one when she got a look at his stash of board games; you never know what’s going to turn someone on. Just don’t go overboard. If you’re questioning whether it’s too much, it probably is.
Be prepared for some snooping. I don’t mean she’ll look through your closets or drawers. But you can bet that she’ll have a gander at your bookshelf or vinyl collection when you aren’t looking. Heck, maybe even when you are looking. One of the first things I do, almost by instinct, when I’m in a new place is check out their books. Don’t have anything in eyeshot that you’d be embarrassed of. Many ladies mentioned how impressed they were with a manly collection of books, so if you’re lacking, consider a trip to your used bookstore. It may even inspire you to actually read them!
Be aware of pet sensitivities. It’s a good idea to have your pet corralled when a date first comes over, letting the critter out once you’ve given her the heads up. Ask ahead about pet allergies, and be sure to vacuum your furniture if you have a pet that likes to lounge with you on the couch.
Now let’s move on to specific rooms to pay special attention to.
“I asked him why he didn’t have toilet paper and he told me he only pooped at work so he wouldn’t have to buy any…I don’t even…”
Don’t be that guy.
Of any single room, the bathroom was mentioned as being the biggest offender in the first impression category. There are a lot of very simple considerations that men too often neglect. It often comes down to basic hygiene and common sense, so don’t get caught having not taken care of the following bathroom essentials:
- Clean it. This is first and foremost. Wipe down every bathroom surface with a multi-purpose cleaner. Clean the toilet bowl so it’s sparkling white. Keep the vanity tidy.
- As mentioned in the beginning, keep an air freshener in the loo. (Use one that’s subtly scented – not overpowering.)
- Have toilet paper. Don’t let your date find an empty roll.
- Have soap and a dry hand towel. Make sure the soap is fresh, and the hand towel laundered.
- Have a trash can. This should be obvious. A woman might have a sanitary item she needs to throw away and if there’s no trash can, she’s really in a pickle.
- Wash your hands. It’s obvious that you lack basic hygiene when you pop out of the bathroom immediately after the toilet flushes.
When I was a bachelor, I think I had one plastic cup, a few mismatched bowls, and a couple forks and spoons. I also had a nice collection of Pop Tarts, Chef Boyardee, and cheap coffee. How my then girlfriend married me is beyond me.
Have, at the very least, the essentials in your cupboards and pantry. Don’t know what the essentials are? Good thing AoM contributor Matt Moore has already helped us with that.
Have at least one set of matching dishes. That aren’t plastic.
Have more than just junk food. When you offer a snack to your date, you don’t want your only options to be Cheetos and instant mac and cheese. Have some fresh fruits and veggies on hand, pita chips and hummus, etc. Anything to class it up a little.
Offer a variety of beverages. One of the first things you should do when a date comes over is offer her a beverage. If your only options are water and beer, your gal won’t be too happy. Having juice, wine, mixed drinks, soda (bonus points for unique, craft varieties), etc. available conveys your thoughtfulness. As a bonus, you’ll be prepared for guests that drop by at other times as well.
Keep it clean. This has already been mentioned, but it’s worth mentioning again to keep the kitchen spick and span and smelling nice.
The bedroom is the most personal of all the rooms in our home. It can also be where we tend to let ourselves go a bit. An unkempt bed and clothes strewn about is a common find in men’s bedrooms. Don’t let that be you. If your most personal space is messy, it’s a good bet that’s closer to the real you than the rest of your place.
Make the bed. It’s good habit to do it every morning anyway, but it’s even more important when you’re giving your date a tour of your place. It shows that you care about the details.
Pick up your clothes. Have the laundry done so you don’t have an overflowing hamper, and have all your clothes folded and put away. Again, this is good practice anyway.
A bed frame and headboard helps. I never did this as a bachelor, but I found quite a few ladies who ran into fellas with mattresses simply on the floor. This is okay for a short period of time when you just move in, but head to Craigslist and get yourself a bed frame. It won’t be very expensive. If you want to splurge, get a headboard too. Both convey an impression of stability and put-togetherness that the mattress on the floor does not.
Many of these guidelines, if you’ll notice, are common sense. They force you to grow up and become an organized, disciplined man. Following these tips is good practice, period. You’ll impress not only a date, but your mom, your friends, and even that door-to-door salesperson (don’t buy a magazine subscription from him though – another lesson learned as a bachelor.)
What tips do you have to make a good impression for a lady coming to your place for the first time? Ladies, what tips do you have?