I love first dates. So much can happen on a first date. Yes, it can be a short-lived experience, and all you’ve lost is time. But, generally, it’s where everything is new, and anything is possible.
Dating as a single mum has been a roller coaster of a ride. Sometimes it awakens the senses. Sometimes it’s even comedic. And yes, it can also be heart wrenchingly tragic. First dates are necessary, and often feel like hard work, sometimes they’re awkward, and sometimes, if you’re in sync with your date, it is a wonderfully warm experience that you want to revisit over, and over.
Surely, I thought to myself, there must be helpful guide on how to navigate a first date. Though it’s a shame to create a template that is devoid of personal idiosyncrasies and quirks, so that it’s better to find out what you should NOT do on a first date, and let the rest be guided by your own individual personality. Yes, the etiquette of first dates.
The absolute biggest no-no is when a person talks badly of past relationships.
I researched my favourite etiquette resources, and they state that it’s still inappropriate to discuss religion, politics and money. I agree that discussing money with a near stranger is not a good idea, but today, when religion and politics are at the forefront of our lives, it seems rather impossible. It’s also possibly a good idea to broach those topics early, in case you have opposing ideas on them. It’s either going to produce a healthy discussion, or give you the exit you should take if you can’t stand his or her ideals or beliefs.
As to discussing sex, I have rarely experienced a first date when a man has offered this up for conversation. I’m sure that he thinks about it, and can be quite flirtatious, but it’s definitely up to the woman to initiate the topic. If a woman wants to get physical, she will let you know, just like our minx on our cover photo. If she prefers to establish a romantic relationship before getting physical, she will also guide that. It is acceptable to try to kiss a woman, and some women love that attention, but if she turns away, or indicates that she isn’t ready, then respect her wishes.
There are a few things that men should do. They will not appear old-fashioned if they open car doors for a woman, nor will it seem odd to help a woman with her coat. And even if those seem too much to do for your date, then at the very least you should open the door to the restaurant for your date. Typically the door opens out, and she should pass first, but if the door opens inwards, then you should walk through and hold the door open for her.
There is a very old world rule that says that men should always enter a restaurant before his date. This is to ward off all other gentlemen’s eyes to your date. Today, most women will walk directly behind the maitre-d or host, followed by her partner.
Table manners are also extremely important, and licking your knife, or your plate are forbidden. Tucking your napkin into your collar is only accepted when eating lobster or ribs, and the establishment normally supplies these.
Menu suggestions are great, but taking over and ordering on behalf of your date is not appropriate.
Answering your phone or texting is unacceptable. If you’re in a situation that requires you to keep your phone at the ready for work or if you have kids waiting at home, then let your date know.
And, as a general rule, if you invited your date, then you should pay for the meal. But I will write in depth on this important topic in an upcoming article. Too many have asked me what is the right etiquette with paying for dates.