Enjoy the second chapter of my opinions on the “Rules” for dating-all about The First Date. If you missed the first installment, check it out.
Seeing as how I have not only been on a lot of first dates recently, but in the course of my nearly 32 years of being single, I’m kind of an expert. This is just what works for me…well, if you can count going on that many first dates actually “working.” So maybe I should just say this is what I like. It may not work at all.
What (Not) to Wear: This may be somewhat dependent on where you are going (we’ll get to that later)- but I am a big fan of wearing jeans on a first date. If I am going straight from work, there’s a chance I’ll be wearing a casual dress. But if I’m coming from home, and we’re not doing something fancy, I will wear jeans. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m not making an effort-don’t worry, I do and I will look cute. But I think one of the reasons girls get so freaked out about dating is that we feel this pressure to go buy a new fancy outfit, spend way too much time and effort trying to look perfect, and then it doesn’t work out and we are mad that we spent $100 on new clothes and shoes and makeup and a pedicure (and guys gripe about having to pick up the bill…trust me, you are getting off cheap! Try being a girl!). Worse, you feel bad that if someone didn’t like you at your very best, what does that say about you when you are at home in your pjs with dirty hair and no makeup? So I personally think it is best to temper everyone’s expectations a smidge- mine included. By wearing jeans, I’m not giving you my worst, but I’m not giving you my best either. If you like me somewhere in the middle, then I think there might be hope for us yet. I still have a chance to “wow” you somewhere down the line. Like, on the second or third date. Or fourth or fifth. When I know
you the effort will be worth it.
Where: Where should you go on a first date? If I’m meeting someone for the first time ever (like a guy I met online) I obviously want it to be someplace public just for safety! But since you don’t really know if you’ll hit it off, you don’t want to commit to something that is open-ended or where you could get stuck for several hours without any kind of “out.” I think it is a good idea to keep the initial meeting low-pressure and low-commitment. I prefer to meet somewhere right after work for drinks, and if it goes well you can transition to dinner; or maybe meet for coffee if it’s a weekend. Now, if you are dating someone you already know on some level (not an online date), you probably have some idea about whether or not there is already chemistry, and you definitely want to go ahead and have a dinner date. If you know me, ask me out, but still don’t want to have to buy me dinner, what is wrong with you? Are you that cheap? On the other hand, guys sometimes try to pull out all the stops to impress you on the first date. This is really unnecessary, and just puts a lot of pressure on both of us that we don’t really need to create on a first date. You don’t need to worry about impressing me yet! We might not even know each other’s last names. Sheesh. Don’t try so hard. Bottom line- casual as possible, and let me meet you there. Please do not pressure me to tell you where I live because we don’t know each other and because stranger danger!!!
Who Pays: Um, the guy should pay. Look, I know money talk is awkward. Which is why if you are a guy, you should simply reach for the bill as soon as it hits the table. Really, this will make a better impression on me than if you took me someplace fancy. And if I offer to contribute, which I may or may not do, then politely decline my offer. I’m equal-opportunity, I will pick up the next one. But if you don’t buy my drink/dinner/whatever on the first date, then I may never get the chance. It’s just a nice way to show that chivalry isn’t dead and you can be a gentleman, because you are taking a step to eliminate the awkward money conversation, which makes me comfortable (you should be trying to do this anyway- more about that in a minute).
A few other bits of helpful information based on my experience:
– Talk about whatever you want. Look, if politics or religion are important to you, and you want someone that more or less feels the same way that you do, by all means discuss it on your first date! Who wants to waste time going on three or four dates with someone you think is awesome in every way, only to find out you majorly disagree on something you won’t be able to live with forever? I wouldn’t force it to come up, but if it comes up naturally, I don’t avoid controversial topics. In fact, for me it is actually a good sign if we can have great conversations about these “deeper” issues right off the bat (especially if we share the same opinions)!
– Always try to make the other person comfortable. First dates are nail-biters. Even for the most confident guys and gals. So I’ve found that if I focus on making the other person feel at ease, I don’t think about how nervous I am. If you’re both doing that, then neither of you thinks about how nervous you are plus you are both trying to make each other comfortable, which is nice. So let’s do that everybody, ok? It doesn’t work as well when I’m the only one doing it.
– Be the man with a plan. I don’t like open-ended first dates. Personally, I like for there to be a fairly defined beginning and end. This doesn’t mean I’m uptight. Would you get on a roller coaster if you if you knew it could last anywhere between 45 seconds to two hours? Dating can be a wild ride; I like knowing about how long it’s going to last. Drinks leading into dinner is really the only acceptable “transition” to make on the first date. So yes, I love a man with a plan. It can be a simple plan. If it is going well, and you are wishing the night didn’t have to end, then just ask me for a second date. I know it is tempting when a date is going really, really well to want to keep it going…and going…and going. However, I am not the Energizer Bunny. I am more like Cinderella, and my Toyota will turn into a pumpkin if you don’t let me go home. So find out when I’m free again, and we can just pick up where we left off; after I’ve had my beauty rest.
So there you have it, Miss July’s expert first date advice. To borrow from a friend’s recent Facebook posting… Go forth and dazzle.