Social media is fun and interesting and one of the most interesting conversations to engage in is discussing the etiquettes of first dates. From what I gather, it is far more complicated than deciding on whether to meet for coffee or a Saturday afternoon lunch. Now, the discussion is about how much money should a man spend, if a woman should assist with the bill, should a credit report presentation happen before coffee or afterward, and should you accept their friend request on Facebook, and what does it say about you if you don’t.
This is new territory. I thought I covered everything when I wrote 7 Don’ts on a First Date in 2014, but I directed that post towards men, and now it’s time to discuss this for all parties involved. I would like to think it’s not THAT complicated, but rather raise my ire towards this silliness, I have to admit there is an issue and I want to address it with the seriousness that it deserves. And I want to take on each issue from both the man’s and the woman’s perspective.
- You should spend what you deem appropriate.
Men: You have full control here. You plan the date; you set the agenda; you choose the place. You do this for two reasons: one, you’re laying the groundwork for a second date and need to show you are interest and you thought enough of her to put some effort into planning the date. Two, you get to pick the very best places suitable for your budget.
I’m not going to set a dollar amount because it can vary based on where you live, time of day of the date, and how much you are enjoying her company. Sure, you may meet for coffee, but that can turn into an Uber ride to a street festival where you have dinner, followed by another Uber ride for drinks. You may spend $30 on coffee and cakes or spend $250 on an extended date. The point is, if you’re having a good time, the cost doesn’t matter… for the most part.
There was a social media discussion about the guy who bounced after the date he was with ran up a $700 tab? He got crucified for being cheap and the girl who posted it acted as if $700 was nothing. We know damn well it is, especially for a first date. She was crazy but he has to own his portion of the blame. You have to know your limit and cut the date when you’ve reached it. If you’re the type of girl that sees no problem running up a $700 tab, you’ve made a bad life decision and need to re-evaluate everything.
Ladies: I think it’s time to update the rules our grandmothers set for our moms and our moms set for our sisters. When you go out on a date, have enough money to cover the bill. Yes, the man should pay for the first date. I don’t care what anyone says, men pay for the first date. If you want to offer to go dutch, do so, but it shouldn’t be necessary.
But these brand new dudes are different so if you’re out with a man who’s daddy never taught him nothing about nothing, have some money in your pocket to cover the bills. And that requires monitoring what you allow that man to spend. Have a running tab in your head that and when he hits some amount above what you deem appropriate or are willing to pay, you should insist on paying or cutting the date short.
There are men out there who have a booty toll, and once he pays that toll, he’s expecting you to hand over the booty. Don’t allow yourself to even get close. Offer to pay or cut the date short. And always have the Uber app on your phone just in case you have to bounce if things get weird.
- Talk basics. You are not the FBI
This advice is for both men and women. The first date is just that, a date. It is not a CIA interrogation; it shouldn’t feel like a full body scan. But it’s not all fun and games either. This is the start of a journey that may end if 50 years of marital bliss or restraining orders and keyed cars. If you can weed out the batshit crazy over lattes, consider that a win.
Try to find his intent. Get a feel for how interested in you is she really. Is she reasonably mentally stable? Does it look like he lives in his car? Can you glimpse some human decency? How did they treat the waitress? How much eye contact did she give you? Was the conversation fairly fluid (note: every first date has some awkward silence. Don’t panic.)
The number one goal of a first date is figuring out if you want to go out on a second date. Once you get past the first date, then you can start the real interrogation. Talk about favorite music, food, wine, sports, work, favorite places to vacation, hobbies, and dream job. Talk about your expectations for what you want in a relationship. If they ask about your last relationship, be political: things didn’t work out but that’s the past and I prefer to stay in the present. Eventually, you’ll talk about that, on the second date.
- Say yes to the second date
Men: Unless she is completely out her mind or somehow you got the feeling she was two stones short of going on a murderous rampage, ask her out for the second date. Don’t wait until she leaves and ask her for a date in a text message. If you followed rule number 6 from 7 Don’ts on a First Date, then you should already have a plan for the second date. Don’t come off as desperate. Throw a few compliments her way then ask. Don’t, not ask.
Women: Say yes to the second date. You’ve met the representative and now you can move forward to see more of this person sitting before you. Obviously, if the guy gives you the creeps or you really think he might be on some crazy stuff, don’t commit. But more often than not, you should try a second date just to see if the first impression has some gravitas.
- Don’t connect on social media until after the second date
Men: This is not the time to friend them on Facebook. Do not follow them on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or any other social media platform. Keep the details of that first date off social media. If things work out you can ease them into that faux world. You don’t know the person well enough to know if you need to scrub your posts. And guys, when we’re single our posts are vastly different from when we are in a relationship. It’s the same with how long we keep leftovers in the refrigerator as a single guy and how long old pizza lasts when you have a girlfriend dropping by every few days to make sure we don’t set off a plague. (Note: Pizza has a 96-hour lifespan when left on the counter and 7 days in the fridge, despite what my wife says).
Women: Seriously. You don’t know this dude.
First dates are not easy which is why both parties should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid). There are more than enough things that can go wrong without adding layers of complexity to it. Unless you have something specific in mind, you should keep the date as casual as possible. Again, the only goal is to not get disqualified for a second date. After the second date, you can move forward with pursuing a relationship with all of its trappings or get “really busy” and have a difficult time squeezing that person into your busy life. It really is that easy.