Despite the myriad of changes in society over the years, particularly within culture and technology, the art of dating has retained its rather paradoxical nature; the specifics of it have shifted, but the inherent mystery and confusion it generates still very much remain. And let’s face it, there are very few hard and fast rules when it comes to courtship:
· is paying for the entire restaurant bill by yourself chivalrous or insulting?
· is it best to go see a movie then dissect it over dinner, or vice versa?
· is it acceptable to allow your romantic interest over the threshold before the third date?
To be fair, these sorts of questions have existed for a while but the phrasing of them (and their resulting answers) have transformed over generations.
Furthermore, these types of questions are often more complicated when applied to dating in the LGBTIQ community; for example, when it comes to planning a romantic getaway, I don’t know if it is rude to expect my partner or I to fully foot the bill, or whether we’re best to just split the cost equally.
In the case of heterosexual couples, there is often more of an established precedent for dealing with such situations (sorry boys, this romantic spa weekend is on you), but even here the rise of feminism and egalitarian economic theory (I knew my economics degree would eventually come in handy) would argue that such a mode of behaviour is outdated to say the least, and offensive at most.
While I’m not professing to have all the answers for such dating dilemmas and courtship conundrums, I find there are a few basic guidelines that, when followed will result in a more enjoyable date for both parties. And remember kids: the happier your date is at the end of the night, the better your chances for securing that all-too-elusive second date.
1. Don’t sit on your mobile phone.
Now you may feel this one goes without saying, but I’ve seen it so much I feel the need to state it here: do not sit on your mobile phone throughout your date! In fact, don’t even do it when hanging out with your friends or having dinner with your family! It’s just rude, and if you’re not showing any interest in what your date has to say, then they will be quick to call time and say “G2G, CYA L8R LOSER!
Also, on a related note: don’t sit scrolling through dating apps and chatting to other potential romantic interests online while actually on a date. This has actually happened to me before, and I have to say little has turned me off more.
2. Do plan something nice.
In this case, the actual evening you plan may depend on what you feel best represents “nice’, so there’s not really a textbook example to follow. However, perhaps a better way to phrase it is “Do Plan Something”. By this I mean do make an effort to find a nice date activity to partake in, whether it’s bowling or going to the cinema to see that new film you have both been waxing lyrical about; at the very least, find somewhere nice you and your date can relax, chat and just get to know each other.
Be warned: choose poorly, and your evening really won’t “go to plan”!
3. Don’t drink too much.
Some recent studies have said that one glass of wine improves your looks. While I feel this research project did not take its participants from a Wetherspoons on an average Saturday night, having a drink may indeed improve your date night in other ways.
However, be careful here as there’s only a very fine line between you being a two-drink-Tony and a legless-Larry, A drink can give you confidence and help the conversation flow a little easier, but too much and you end up a rambling idiot who slurs their speech and ends up scaring off their date. Additionally, watch out for shots: nothing good can come of them.
4. Do take an interest.
As Dale Carnegie said in How to Make Friends and Influence People, “aim to be interested rather than interesting”. He was not wrong. In the case of my partner, his excellent listening skills certainly make him that bit more irresistible! So if you make an effort and take time to just listen to what your date has to say, and follow-up with some excellent probing questions, they will certainly find you that much hotter.
I know that assertion may seem a bit of a stretch, but as Roger the Alien from American Dad said, “I’m a good listener. Do you know how rare that is in this universe?”
5. Don’t talk about your exes.
One throwaway comment is fine.
A brief segue on to the topic is acceptable.
A 30-minute, red-wine-fuelled rant about their idiocy rings alarm bells.
If you can’t help but wax lyrical about your ex, this would suggest you still harbor sub-conscious feelings for them and that you are not completely over them. Also, your date may form a different picture of you in their mind, perhaps deciding that it was you that actually caused a lot of the problems in the relationship!
Therefore, it’s often best to steer clear of the entire topic. After all, you should be spending your time looking to the future and enjoying your present date, not constantly raking up the past. Move forward in your dating quest, and find inner peace along the way.
6. Do avoid sensitive or controversial topics.
Look, I’m not saying you can’t air your views on politics or gender stereotypes, it’s great that people have opinions, and they should share them with the world!
Except for President Trump, that’s just wrong! (Also, how can you boil down a complicated and long-running issue like the border dispute between Palestine and Israel to 140 characters? Stand aside folks, POTUS has got this one!)
I’m just saying that admitting to some more politically controversial opinions on a date can backfire badly. This is especially true if you’re on one of your first few dates with a new romantic interest, as you both haven’t yet had the joy of uncovering your diametrically opposed viewpoints.
Not all hope is lost, however! Some people do overcome this barrier to forge meaningful long-term relationships; I’m sure a few Green Party members would be able to look past their differences with UKIP supporters to form great connections. But do you really want to take that chance on your first date?
7. Don’t be rude to waiting/bar staff.
I don’t know about you, but seeing someone being rude to a member of staff at a bar or restaurant is a real turn-off.
This is partly due to my time spent serving in the service forces; I have realized over the years that — certainly some — people are the worst. Believe me, the next time you snap your fingers at me to get my attention I’ll snap them for you.
Also, this sort of behavior does not bode well for the future of your relationship together; I mean, what’s to stop them becoming just as rude to you?
Do yourself a favor and head for the hills!
8. Do be safe.
OK, get your mind out of the gutter! I wasn’t referring to THAT! (But if you must do “IT”, then please, do be safe and use protection!)
A greater number of people are partaking in online dating these days, and while this is by no means a bad thing (I actually met my partner online) it does bring the question of safety to the forefront. The person you’re speaking to online may be nothing like the person you actually meet in the flesh. Yet, I know we can’t all hide away from the world and not socialize with strangers, so the best thing to do is just be sensible and safe when making date plans.
My advice? Perhaps a daytime coffee at a nice little coffee shop, or food at a not-too-fancy eatery. Something low-key and in a bustling area would be ideal.
And don’t forget to tell a friend where you are going! Though if you’re anything like me, I ramble so much to my friends about the details of a prospective date that they would be able to produce a blow-by-blow reconstruction for Crimewatch at primetime should I ever go missing.
9. Don’t cause problems with paying the bill.
So you’ve adhered to my rules and so far the date has been a success. The conversation has flowed, the wine slightly less so, and you’ve kept your mobile in your pocket for more than 37 seconds.
Oh, what’s that coming over the horizon? The bill you say?
Cue alarm bells and warning sirens.
How do you handle such a situation?
Here is where various schools of thought have arisen, with the subject becoming a hotly debated field of study.
While there may be a societal expectation for the man to pay for the food or drinks bill in a heterosexual relationship, many have argued this thinking is outdated and offensive, and I believe this is rightly so.
However, the situation becomes even more complex when involving a same-sex couple; is there still an expectation for one person to pay over the other? While the jury may still be out on this, I tend to err on the side of caution and offer to pay for the whole bill. Such a gesture always earns you brownie points in your date’s books.
And don’t forget: even if you end up splitting the bill between you both, your gesture won’t go unnoticed (or unrewarded).
10. Do have a good time!
Boy, do I know how to suck the fun out of dating.
I know I’ve got a lot of rules here but I don’t want you to think of me as some disapproving chaperone accompanying you to your high school dance, glaring at you frostily the entire time and ensuring you don’t come anywhere near another potential love interest.
Remember, dating is meant to be fun!
It’s meant to give you those fun butterflies, the great feeling of getting to know someone, the opportunity for a dreamy goodnight kiss, and the hilarity of recounting to your friends the next day the particulars of the previous evening.
So while I may have a few guidelines to follow, please don’t adhere to them as gospel. Just go out there, enjoy the thrill of dating and have a good time!