But let’s not rehearse the what’s and the whys and the hows of the trauma of modern dating, and let’s not stray near to that new sub-category of typically unqualified psycho-analysis called ‘attachment style’.
Let’s stop with the theory and the whingeing and the memes and the online blasting and instead, let’s be proactive, let’s put out into the universe what we are hoping to receive.
In that vein, here are what I consider to be the bare minimum – and I shall say it again to let that sink in – the bare minimum rules for how to be a non-dire dater.
The universal non-dating rule of who pays is whoever made the suggestion or invitation. If someone says, “Let me get you drinks,” they get them. If someone offers to ‘take’ you for dinner, they pay for dinner. This applies to dating, too, but there is an additional rule. If you are the guy, and you like her, for god’s sake, pay. If you can’t afford the bill, you should have been savvier at suggesting the venue (see rule number 2) because if you don’t pay, she’s leaving unimpressed by you, for sure. If she’s insisting on splitting, she’s not into you (but she also might not be if she lets you pay). If you aren’t into her and you didn’t invite her out, then by all means, split the bill and wish her the best in life.
Suggest somewhere. Anywhere. And anywhere is not meeting outside the train station and ‘seeing what we fancy.’ ICK. I’m dying of cringe-writing it. Just literally anywhere. It doesn’t have to be cool or quirky, and for a first date, it certainly should not be anywhere capital ‘F’ Fancy, but it needs to be a time, and a place and, a venue. If it’s a place you can make reservations, you also need to have done so ahead of the day. And don’t suggest somewhere out of your own comfort zone (i.e. a restaurant that serves nice food if you’re secretly a fast food guy or gal, or a winter walk if you don’t have appropriate footwear. Just be who you are, hun).
Dress for the weather, dress for the venue, and dress like yourself. Always clean, always fresh, uncreased and smelling nice. No tatty shoes.
If you are there first, you enter said agreed venue – do not loiter!!! Ick, ick, ICK, please, my goodness, do not loiter in doorways. You enter, you go to the table or, if it’s a non-reservable spot, use the time to source a good table without the awkward looking for one, then having to leave and ‘find’ somewhere else moment, and you order the first round. Text your date and say, ‘I’m here; what are you having to drink?’ It’s so simple, so adult.
A greeting for a date is a one-cheek (light, air) kiss or a quick, not-tight hug. Don’t be weird about it. If you’re sitting when your date arrives, you stand up and do the greeting.
Unless it is undeniably your date’s turn to sort the round (see rule 1), pour water/wine or order more (not necessarily alcoholic) drinks when glasses are empty. Unless you don’t want the date to keep going, in which case, don’t. If she’s flagged a waiter down to order water because she’s that thirsty, you have failed oh so miserably.
Never on a first date, ideally also a second and third and preferably not until you have already slept together and are in a committed and trusting safe space. Don’t ask for sex, don’t make wild innuendos out of completely innocent nothings, don’t ask about ex-sexual partners or preferred positions, don’t make lewd jokes about body parts or the way food/drinks bottles are going about their innocent business in the region your date’s mouth, don’t say the word ‘fun’, don’t suggest moving the date somewhere more comfortable, don’t brag about your prowess or your anatomy just DO NOT DO IT. If you have even the slightest, tiniest, most minuscule shred of respect for your date as a person, do not for one moment think you have any right to twist a date into a hookup unilaterally. Your mother would be horrified, and so should you be. If it’s a hook-up, it’s a hook-up by pre-determined mutuality. If it’s a date, you respect one another and behave respectfully (and like adults, see rules 3 and 4). If the passion (and let’s be real, the alcohol) is there and it happens, that’s one thing, but ASKING? TALKING about it? With someone you just met? And at the DINNER TABLE? Ew, ew, ew, rancid.
Further to rule 5, this does not mean anything else; it means ensuring she gets home. Drive her, book her taxi, ask how she is getting home, walk her, do NOT let her walk home alone, and if she is public transport-ing, you should be texting her / on the phone to her until she is safely home. Don’t set off on your way before she is safely on a train or bus or in a taxi. Like rule 1, if you like her and want to see her again, book her a taxi / Uber from your account. (And if you DO take/walk her home and she DOES invite you in, it does not MEAN she is going to or ‘has to’ sleep with you. Grow up.)
If you had a good time, say so. If you want to see them again, say so and suggest the next date. If you didn’t have a good time, say you did, and if you don’t want to see them again, say that. Say it politely, complimenting what you did like or enjoy about them, or well-wishes for whatever is coming up in their life that you might have talked about. If you’re really struggling, you say, ‘I hope you have a great rest of the week(end)’. So. Simple. So respectful, so polite.
If you like someone, don’t play cool OK? Just don’t. Be real.
Apparently, there are people that don’t know this rule. The man walks closest to the traffic, on the outside. The man also opens the door and holds it open, speaks to the staff first, helps their date with their bag and coat, makes sure they have somewhere comfortable to sit that they are warm, walks behind them with an arm loosely caged around the small of their back but without touching it and then leans round to open the door when you get there. Being a gentleman is not about flash or cash, and it’s certainly not about big cocky confidence; it’s about being attentive. It’s about asking questions, listening to answers, hearing what your date is actually saying, giving undivided attention. You don’t keep checking your phone; you certainly don’t notice or look at other attractive people when you’re with them. Also, compliments. So pleasant, so natural, so easy.
By Rebecca Schrieber
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