The following interview is part of Out's "Dating PrEP" series, in which four notable experts from various fields offer advice on how to prepare for dating as a modern queer man.
A first date is like a job interview, says David Cruz.
"You're going to show up. You're going to look great. You're going to smell great. You're going to come prepared," the founder of Finding Cupid, a resource for love and dating, told Out's David Artavia in a new video interview.
Cruz, an alumnus of Bravo TV's The Millionaire Matchmaker with a specialty for LGBTQ+ singles, knows a thing or two about matchmaking. And he has a "controversial" piece of advice for a first date: get coffee.
"I'm all about going for coffee," he says. "Coffee is about the interaction, the being present for the person that you're there with, digging in, right? After all, you're there for trying to identify if this is a good match for you."
"If it progresses, you have my permission to go to lunch," he adds with a smile, before dinner, drinks, and "the fun stuff."
And about that fun stuff. Go to a date prepared. "Create space within your head for happiness" by listening to your favorite music or exercising, Cruz advises. And embark on a date for the right reason. "No matter what happens in that date, you are not there for validation. You are there to find a partner," he advises.
Ultimately, it is also important to realize that you can set the tone and the pace of the budding relationship. "You are in the driver's seat. Nobody else is in control but you," Cruz says. "When you realize you have that power, you become more confident."
And when it comes time to get physical, it's important to boost that confidence. Looking cute by getting a haircut ahead of time is one way, but health matters too, such as taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a treatment shown to be up to 99 percent effective in HIV prevention if administrated daily.
"Look your best. Feel your best. Let's get prepared for our return into the wonderful world that we missed," says Cruz, adding, “Take your time. Do what’s comfortable for you. And do it at your own pace. And have fun."