First Dates: 5 Ways to Not Screw Up

“Love is a sweet tyranny, because the lover endureth his torments willingly.” ~Proverb

First Dates: 5 Ways to Not Screw Up

We have all felt the roller coaster of emotion so intrinsically tied to the cultural phenomenon of dating. Chances are, this same roller coaster has led us to say some of the stupidest things, do some of the strangest things, and feel some of the weirdest things that any of us have ever experienced. Before romantic relationships are established, there is a very wonderful, very confusing period of time most refer to as “dating.” What is dating? Dating is the process by which we judge, adapt, impress, and test our potential significant other in an attempt to figure out if they are, in fact, compatible. This process is a beautiful mess of emotion that transcends all reason as we make absolute fools of ourselves in the name of love.

First dates are one of the most fascinating interactions that human beings will ever experience. The combination of hormones, pheromones, calzones, and unknowns make each first date epic. Most people have experienced at least one amazing first date, and at least several terrible ones. That being said, I’m quite simply tired of people screwing it up. I have for some time been known to give relationship advice to friends on a fairly regular basis and although I’ve yet to earn my PhD in matchmaking, I consider myself at the very least a good person to talk to. While I do think that I can give good advice to girls in the area of dating, I can’t pretend to know what goes through a girl’s head on a first date, so this advice is primarily for the guys out there. So here is my advice on proper first date etiquette…

1. Do something worth remembering.

Chances are, if you’re on a first date with a girl, it means that you are somewhat interested in her. If not, then you should have had the foresight not to go on the date in the first place. Therefore, you should at least go through the first steps in making the date enjoyable for both parties. You can’t reasonably expect yourself to come up with an amazingly interesting and unique idea for each and every date, but dinner and a movie is a great way to ruin a first impression. Girls like guys who care. So show that you at least care enough to take the time to plan something even somewhat unique. Take her to the park, take her to get coffee, or take her to a sports game. Wherever you take her and whatever you do, make sure that she remembers it by adding your own personal flair to it. This date is about showing her who you are. Going on a generic date only hurts your chances.

2. Don’t you dare get romantic.

While I enjoy chick flicks more than any man ever should, I must tell you that getting romantic on a first date is a tragic mistake made by far too many idealistic men. The reason that you are on a first date is to determine whether or not the relationship will turn into one that is romantic so don’t jump the gun. This applies to almost all areas of the date, meaning don’t force awkward physical touching, don’t take her to a candlelit dinner, don’t buy her flowers (this is sometimes ok, but usually it’s a no go. Wait till the second or third date). Being romantic on a first date is going to send a signal of desperation and awkwardly large amounts of emotional vulnerability. Coming from the guy who loves nothing more than talking about feelings, don’t release the emotional cavalry on the first date.

3. Be a gentleman.

Now I might get criticized for being old school in this sense, but It’s better to be safe then sorry. Most girls are going to really appreciate a guy who holds open doors, pays for dinner, and drives. On the off chance that you take out a girl who hates doors being held open, has to pay for her dinner, and will meet you there, good luck.  There is a real lack of gentlemen in the year 2009 and you should take any chance you can to prove that you are in fact, the last of a dying breed. However, please don’t over do it. Just because you’re being a gentleman doesn’t mean that you should be ridiculous. She can open her own car door, she can probably walk around the puddle without you throwing your shirt on it. Do the small things, but don’t pretend to be someone or something you’re not.

4. Don’t force it.

Whether or not you believe in one true love is irrelevant. Unless of course you think that you could make things work with every member of the opposite sex. In which case, you obviously don’t need my advice. That being said, there are some dates that are not going to end with two people falling in love and that’s fine. In fact, that’s much more common than opposite affect. If you realize while on the date that this girl isn’t for you, don’t call for an immediate retreat. Instead, go through the rest of the night being as polite and gentlemanly as you can manage. She is still a person with feelings and chances are, if you’re not feeling it then neither is she.

5. Be yourself, and have fun.

To take a page from Will Smith’s character in Hitch, if she’s on the date, that means that she’s at least entertaining the thought of dating you. So don’t stress. Try your best to relax and have a good time. Dates should be fun, the hard part was asking her out. Now that she’s said yes, all you have to do is be yourself and let cupid play his game. There it is, the most important part is just remembering that it’s just a first date.

“The art of love… is largely the art of persistence.” ~Albert Ellis

*This blog was inspired by an ex girlfriend of mine who asked me to write a blog about relationships (Ironic, huh?). On our first date, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights for 4 hours.

Now I want to know what you think? Do you agree/disagree? Do you have any stories of terrible or awesome first dates? Let me know.

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12 responses to “First Dates: 5 Ways to Not Screw Up

  1. this was very refreshing to read. i totally agree that gentlemen are a dying breed. i have been on dates with some real ass holes so it’s nice to know not every guy is like that. also, i agree that guys should be unique. when i first started dating i had to pick what we did! let me just say that it’s not fun or ok for a girl to have to do that. in ruins any chance of a second date.

  2. agree that gentlemen are a dying breed. i have been on dates with some real ass holes so it’s nice to hear some guys are actually making an effort to not be one.

    also, guys should def be unique with first dates. i have had to choose where we go and what we do before, which is not fun for a girl. it ruins any chance of a second date.

  3. Ok. How many relationships have you been in before? And how many first dates have you been on? How many second dates?

    I don’t mean to sound completely rude, but although I think this was good general advice (don’t be a cookie cutter, don’t be a cheese ball, don’t be an asshole, don’t rape anyone, have fun), I have a few things to say about all the deets. Since I have some time, I’m going to type out my thoughts. Read if you care to.

    1. “if you’re on a first date with a girl, it means that you are somewhat interested in her”. Not necessarily true. Guys get pressured and sometimes cornered into situations they’d rather not be in just like girls do. Sometimes they’re just “being nice” or “trying not to hurt the person’s feelings”. Same goes for girls. Just because you’re there doesn’t always mean you want to be.

    2. “dinner and a movie is a great way to ruin a first impression”. Not true. There’s a reason people go to dinner and to movies. Eating together provides time for conversation with a somewhat guided timeline — usually an hour or so. You get to know what the person likes to eat, how they act in restaurants (ie how they treat the server and other strangers, whether or not they’re a door-opener), etc. Movies are a time to get to know each other not necessarily through conversation, but through observation. What movies are they interested in, and why? Funny? Scary? Political? Do they head for the front row in the theatre or the back? Then afterwards, you can see how they react to the film in comparison to yourself. Movies can be a great way to compare and contrast each other’s perception of a variety of subjects.

    3. “Going on a generic date only hurts your chances.” Hurts your chances of what? If a “generic” date is what keeps you from having a second date, I’d imagine there were a few other reasons why the two of you didn’t click. If he/she is paying more attention to the fact that you went to the typical Starbucks for coffee instead of a trendy local coffee shop, or if he/she is thinking about how they wished you would’ve thought of something more brilliant and unusual to do instead of going out for dinner, then either a) they didn’t find you that interesting, period b) the two of you don’t click c) the unimpressed and uninterested person is just a little bitch, and after realizing such, you can gladly move on.

    4. “The reason that you are on a first date is to determine whether or not the relationship will turn into one that is romantic”. True, but that doesn’t mean you should be able to figure out whether the person is “the one” or not on the first go around. It takes a while to get past the sometimes-awkward conversational hoops we jump through when spending time with someone new. Chances are, if you hung out and talked to them long enough for a third, fourth or fifth date (which I mean, let’s face it — a date is more generally referred to as “going out” or “hanging out” [coffee, lunch break, the pub, even inviting them to hang out while running errands ha], so a fifth “date” could be happening within the first week of knowing the person), by then you’d be seeing different sides and parts of their personality that you wouldn’t have on a first date.

    5. “Being romantic on a first date is going to send a signal of desperation and awkwardly large amounts of emotional vulnerability”. While this may actually be true in some cases, I have to disagree for the most part. As a girl, if a guy I just met/am on a first date with gets super “romantic” (which I am assuming this is meaning a guy who immediately and consistently goes into things like how he respects women, how beautiful he thinks you are, how he thinks you are a great person, how he cant wait to have a wife and children one day, etc etc, things with that vibe), my personal opinion is that he’s often times a liar and a total cheese and that he’s saying whatever he thinks you want to hear in order to get you tipsy off romance and, often, out of your pants. It actually works remarkably well for a lot of men. My personal opinion is, however, that if the women are oblivious/easy enough to go for it, either they will learn from their mistakes, or the two deserve each other. This, of course, is assuming that they weren’t merely trying to fuck each other in the first place, but actually exploring the chances of a relationship.

    6. “It’s better to be safe then sorry. Most girls are going to really appreciate a guy who holds open doors, pays for dinner, and drives.” We live in the 21st century. There are hardly rules for these sorts of things anymore. Yeah, sure girls appreciate the doors being held open because they were taught that a man holding the door open for you is something to be appreciated. It’s really not a big deal if you think about it, it’s just become a gesture of caring. So if you think to open the door, or if you care to, do it. If not, so what. No sense in portraying yourself as someone you won’t be the next time, or the time after that, or a year later, or 5, or 10 years later. If you don’t open the door for your friends, don’t do it for some girl you hardly know. It’s like false advertising. As for the money, that depends on the girl. If you like a girl and she likes you paying, I’d suggest paying… or finding a different girl.

    7. “don’t pretend to be someone or something you’re not” Agreed.

    8. “go through the rest of the night being as polite and gentlemanly as you can manage. She is still a person with feelings and chances are, if you’re not feeling it then neither is she.” If the person is a real jolly thorn in your side, I would suggest being honest and telling them that you disagree with every ever-loving word that has come out of their mouth, etc. And if you are having to “manage” being polite and gentlemanly, chances are, it isn’t you, so stop being someone you’re not. Balls up and show the true asshole you really are so the person knows who their dealing with. Also, if you need to remind yourself that “she is still a person with feelings”, I mean… Let’s just say you shouldn’t have to remind yourself that a person is a person just because you’ve decided they aren’t your soul mate.

    9. “if she’s on the date, that means that she’s at least entertaining the thought of dating you”. WRONG. See number 1.

    10. “the hard part was asking her out.” Possibly. But what if he/she suddenly and sincerely decides to tell you that they have dedicated themselves to tattooing their entire body from the neck down into a realistic tiger-likeness? Nowww the hardest part will be trying to think of a nicer way to phrase “Are you fucking kidding me?! You are an insane person and I don’t like you and I’d like to leave now and not go out with you again.”

    11. “it’s just a first date.” Too true. Don’t do Stony River or candles or poems or shit. Too much effort in a first date usually says ‘Look how much money I have’ or ‘Look how romantic I am’ or ‘Look how artsy and clever I am’… and that is what we call being a cocky cock… and it is generally considered an unattractive quality.

    That’s all I have time for. Ciao.

    • This post makes you sound like a prude. I imagine you sitting at your desk with a tall glass of eggnog with a huge grin on your face knowing you are awake past midnight and are trying to tell a guy how he is so wrong just like every other man on the planet. Unfortunately for you this post was clean cut and precise and works. Obviously from a woman’s perspective these ideas aren’t exactly right but as a man I completely understand.

      • You basically agreed with everything he said, but went into details about the “if, ands, or buts” to try and make it sound like you were arguing. Well played.

  4. Ha okay so I just have to say that the first time I read this I thought the quote at the beginning said that “love is a sweet tranny” and strangely enough that kind of made sense to me…

  5. We all know that my relationship began with a horrible game of choices that did not go so well for the other. But here we are, love happens. There really is no cookie cutter advice. I do enjoy reading your advice though. Your blog makes me happy.

    Can’t wait to see you!

  6. Oh sheesh, A Girl…have a little love, would you? Speaking as a different girl, I’m quite happy with this article and happy to speak for myself. Men, please don’t take A Girl’s response as a legitimate representation of how women feel.

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