Imagine if you were able to skip the first date eggshell walking, conversation dancing and pick up during the second or third date when you quasi understand and have a working knowledge of the person you value enough to see again. It’d quickly weed out the people who treat dating as an avenue leading to free meals and wine or for those who excel in the art of the one-night stand and see it solely as a golden opportunity to hit it and quit it. You wouldn’t have to slow down the butterfly’s flying around in your stomach or wipe your clammy hands on your pants and shirt over and over when you see the person for the first time who you think may be the future Mr. or Mrs.
The problem with dating is that you have to go on a first date prior to any future ones. There are so many rules you have to be aware of leading up to a first date, with the foremost being: there are no rules. If the rule is that there are no rules, but then you’re told an abundance of first date information, how does that work? Should we ignore dating coaches, love gurus, friends, and family and trust our own instincts? Or have our own instincts led us to the dating coaches, love gurus, friends, and family who are looking out for our best interest? Either way, it’s impossible to ignore the thoughts flooding your mind when you’re about to set up and then actually go on that first date.
1. WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE DATING IN?
Are your expectations for this date based on life during the Italian Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, La Belle Époque, the Cold War, or today? Before you laugh, this question is probably the most important. Just think, to pull out your date’s chair or not? Hand over your jacket on a chilly day walking around town or keep it for yourself? The questions escalate from there. If we know what time period you dream of dating in, our answers will be obvious.
2. GETTING IN TOUCH
Should we contact our potential date immediately or in a few days? The element of surprise and creating a sense of mystery and intrigue isn’t applicable when people know that you’re intentionally holding out and trying to be mysterious or intriguing, right? But contacting someone too quickly can make your potential date think you’re overeager. So, just get in touch some day, at some time.
3. ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF CONTACT
You can say you want someone to call you, but if you reply to text messages and don’t answer when called and respond via text, it’s assumed text is your preferred form of contact. Also, turn off the Read Receipts setting on your phone. People can see when the text was delivered, then read, and then not responded to for eight hours. Were you: A.) Trying to play it cool. B.) Not sure what to say. C.) Overwhelmed at work. D.) Just don’t care. E.) All of the above.
4. THE LOCATION AND ACTIVITY
Should the person asking to go on the date just choose a place and activity or give several options? You run the risk of being seen as selfish and set in your ways or indecisive and boring. Choose wisely.
This relates to the location and activity to some extent, but should you overdress or be comfortable? While a three-piece suit or a ball gown may dazzle, jeans and a T-shirt or causal, but elegant top will give you a better idea of how your date most likely looks on a daily basis. Would you rather be overwhelmed now or underwhelmed later?
6. TRANSPORTATION TO THE DATE
Should a chariot be sent for your date (this goes back to the time period question)? Do you meet at the spot? Or are you responsible to pick your date up and ensure your company arrives home safely?
7. THE FIRST PERSON TO ARRIVE
If you choose to meet at the date spot, because, well, there are killers out there, ugly people you don’t want to be seen with, or it’s just most convenient, what do you do when you arrive first? Stand outside and wait or go inside and double check that you haven’t looked past your date by accident? While you’re waiting, you’re tempted to check your phone for any messages, but if you do that you’re giving into the fear that maybe you’re being stood up. You want to give off positive energy, demonstrate good body language, and show a strong sense of self. Act the way you best believe exudes that.
8. THE INITIAL GREETING
You don’t want to be seen as a nervous wreck. Stand still. Stop pacing back and forth. Should my hands be in my pockets or hanging in front of me or interlocked behind my back? When you see each other, you have to decide, do I go in for the kiss on the cheek or play it safe with a hug? A handshake is professional, but we’re not applying for jobs. Well, some dates seem more like job interviews than meeting a future life partner. Maybe I’ll just give a wave or a friendly tap on the shoulder. Okay, I’ll go with the ass out hug. It’ll show warmth, but that I understand boundaries.
9. CONVERSATION TOPICS
What should you talk about that’s fun and exciting, shows off your best attributes, and isn’t a downer? The weather has been crazy lately, right? How about those Yankees? You’re traveling later this week? Oh, cool! You hear about that pilot with suicidal tendencies who crashed the plane into the Alps? Oh, we probably shouldn’t talk about death on the first date, especially since you’re going on a plane in three days. I’m sorry. You’re already not sure how to recover and haven’t even ordered yet.
Do I order for the table or just myself? Should we get a bottle of wine or is that basically asking the person to marry me and share our lives together on the first date? Should I stick with the American pronunciations of this dish or show off my foreign language skills and speak in a Romance language? What’s more romantic than speaking in Spanish, French, or Italian? Not sounding like an American trying to speak a foreign language in order to impress a date.
You want to show that you’re not a messy eater, but is it too much to wipe your mouth with your napkin after every bite? Are you allowed to speak with food in your mouth if your date sees you stuffed your face and then asks you a question a second later? Is asking if the other person wants to taste your meal or try your drink a good move or a horrible one? If there are leftovers and my date isn’t going to take them home, can I ask for them? I mean, it’s a shame to waste, you know? Fine, I’ll just keep my head down, eat, and only speak when spoken to.
12. TABLE ETIQUETTE
Oh shit, my mom is calling. Do I accept the call at the table, ask to leave the table and take the call outside, or just let it go to voicemail? It’s my mom. What if it’s important? Or what if she’s just calling to tell me to watch her favorite show, Empire? Can I check my phone while my date goes to the bathroom or does it look like I’m talking about my date if I do that? I’ll just turn my phone off and hope no one needs me. I’m not that important, but I kind of want my date to think I am super important and a big deal. Fine, I’ll leave it on.
There are two desserts I really want. Should I suggest both? Do you think we’ll get stuck with only one and have to share. I was really looking forward to this part of the evening. Maybe we should just go our separate ways and call it a night anyway. I don’t want the date to get ruined over crème brulee and tiramisu.
14. WHO’S PAYING?
I just want to pay the bill and not have any conversation about it, but I do want my date to at least offer so I don’t feel like I was taken advantage of. I understand you have a job and make more money than I do, but I’d like to treat you since I asked you out. I mean, I’ll totally let you pay. But do you really want to pay? Yeah, I’ll just pick up the bill. Less stress here now, more stress on the bank account later.
15. NOW WHAT?
This is where you either linger longer before leaving each other, ask to spend more time together and keep your date going, or say K, Bye and just bolt. I paid for dinner. I’d at least like a kiss. Should I just do it? Oh, I just kissed my date’s ear. Guess it wasn’t meant to be, at least not tonight. Maybe I’ll get a kiss next time.
16. THE FOLLOW UP
Should we do this whole charade all over again? How long do I wait before contacting my date? Shouldn’t my date at least send me a thank you text for treating? Do people have no respect these days? Oh look, a text! I better wait until tomorrow to reply and make my date think that I’m going to see someone else now. Wait, that’s just dumb. Well, dating is dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I’ll call my date sometime next week.
The craziest part is that we go on first dates hoping that we’ll never have to go on another first date ever again. And so it goes…