Sunday, June 12, 2005

First Date Fixes

You saw, you contacted, you talked and now finally, you're meeting up. i think there's essentially two types of first dates. The former is when you decide to get to know each other over the date itself. I really wouldn't recommend this form of date with anyone as it could just be a recipe for disaster. The second type of date is where you get to know the other person BETTER. Which is how it should be.

So what's the big deal with all this first date stuff? Quite a big deal, actually. Were you go, what you do, who pays, what you say; it all adds up to either make or break a potential relationship. So how does one navigate the murky waters of this rather crucial time? While there are no failsafe plans, there are some measures you can employ to ensure a more enjoyable time for the both of you.

Location, location, location

Where you go is the first step in this crazy dance of courtship. Remember that just because you find something utterly enjoyable doesn't mean your date will feel the same way. The most basic choice is a meal or even coffee. Even then, check to make sure if your date is okay with your choice of restaurant. Its horrendously embarrassing when you take him/her to a great grill if he/she is a vegetarian. And not everyone loves spicy Indian/Thai/Moroccan/etc. And don't you dare make your way to a fast food joint. McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. are ALL out.

From your frequent chats, and I certainly hope there has been a fair bit of chatting, you should be able to ascertain each other's likes and dislikes when it comes to food and other interests. if you'd rather meet up at a bar/lounge or coffee joint, do pick a nice, slightly more up-market one. I know it may seen crazy to pay (insert appropriate currency and gourmet coffee price) for a cup of coffee when you can make the same at home for under a dollar/pound/whatever. But remember you're also paying for the service, the ambience and let's face it, you're paying for the other person to be impressed.

Use you knowledge of your date's interests to pick a good place for a date. If you both share an interest in art, visit a gallery or go to an art museum. if the both of your like a certain sport, go see that. If you're unsure, ask your date where he/she would like to go. There's no rule that says it has to be a surprise. And I'm sure most women would prefer knowing where they're going, so that they can choose what to wear. And once you're both there, relax and enjoy yourselves.

To pay or not to pay

I will freely admit that this is a tricky one, and it is really up to you. However, I would suggest this little formula: guy goes to pay, woman offers to pay her share, guy politely declines and woman graciously thanks him, saying the next one is on her. This little scenario can also be played the other way around. the great thing about how this works is that you also put across your interest in another date while also looking like you're independent enough to be able to pay.

If you happen to be going for a meal and movie, you can pay for one and your date pay for the other. Again, there's no hard and fast rule. Or you could both go Dutch. Just don't ask the other person to pay their share if they have not said anything about it. But should you have a few dates and he/she never offers to pay, may I suggest saying something to them.

You are what you wear

I've talked about clothes often enough, and I can't begin to stress how important they are. You really want to make some effort here. Remember to dress for the occasion. If in doubt a nice dress or skirt and top is a safe bet for women and good jeans or trousers with a shirt is okay for guys. That alone will see you through most dates. For women, skimpy clothing is really not advised. You may look hot in a top cut down to there, a skirt cut up to there and accident-inducing platforms, but save it for a night out with the girls. At least they won't get the wrong idea. As for the men, dress neatly, avoid loud Hawaiian shirts and keep your checked trousers for the golf-course. If in doubt of what to wear, refer to my article called "Back to Basics" and that should give you an idea of what you should wear.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

So some of you may not be a Christian or maybe you don't even have a religion. That has nothing to do with this. What has, is that you don't show up for your date without being properly groomed. And the basic for all grooming is a shower. If you really haven't time for a shower (and for those who are meeting up straight after work, you probably won't), at least being your perfume/deodorant and maybe try brushing your teeth. Depending on the sort of work you do, you should be decent enough for dinner or drinks. However, if your job demands a more physical and hands-on approach, try scheduling a later date and head off home first.

The ex-factor

You would probably have mentioned your ex during the conversations you've had on the computer or phone. But unless asked, do not mention him/her on your date. Especially do not say how wonderful or good-looking or talented or smart, or rich he/she was. there will come a time, if you haven't already, discussed your exes with each other. If you have, then great, there's no need to bring it up again. If you haven't, now's not the time. How would you like it if your date sat there regaling you with little stories of how they loved certain aspects of their exes? If you're tempted to bring it up, remember that he/she is an ex and, unless is still on friendly terms with you, is no longer a pertinent part of your life.

Take me home

I know its very tempting, but do not go home with each other after your first date. All of us know how that will end, and though the thought of it sends delicious thrills up and down your spine, resist the urge. If you've clicked sufficiently to feel this way, I think you can safely assume that you'll be seeing more of each other. In which case, wait a little before you jump into bed, or whatever else is handy at the time. Walk around, hold hands, kiss like there's no tomorrow on a park bench, if you have to. Just draw that one line. Besides, prolonging what you both know will happen can sometimes have it's rewards. Think about it; by the time you've had your fifth date or so and you're finally about to go home together, you'll both be wound up like a spring with sexual tension. And that, adds a lot to sex. See it along the lines of spontaneous combustion.

The games we play

Now, assuming your first date goes well, there will be date number two, three and so on so forth. But what happens when the date doesn't turn out as well as you had hoped? Do you tell him/her or do you say nothing? This is a tough one. Providing he/she was also as disinterested as you, chances are your date may get a little hurt if you decide you didn't have a good time. In this case there are two options open to you. You can either put it down to nerves and try have a second date and see how that pans out, or you could just call it quits.

The latter brings up more options, i.e. how to tell him/her that you'd rather not see them anymore. the best way is to be honest, though that dos not necessarily mean be blunt. There is a nice way of saying things, maybe along the lines of, "I had a good time but I don't see this progressing any further, etc". You can choose to remain friends or not. Sometimes the date may have been a disaster as far as romance is concerned but otherwise, you had a great time. In that case, I's say stick with it. Just make sure that you tell your date not to expect things to go further, leading people on isn't something you should ever do.

Eat, drink and be merry

When you go out on a dinner date, you're expected to eat something. From what I've seen, many women tend to stick to salads or other light meals when out on a date, especially on a first date. News flash; men don't think that women never eat. In fact, I have it on good authority that men very much prefer a woman with a good appetite. It usually bodes well for a healthy appetite in 'other' areas. Besides, when women pick at their food, the only message they send out is that they're picky, overly concerned with their image (and therefore perhaps a little superficial), unhealthy and difficult overall. Don't think you have to eat more than the guy, just have a good healthy meal. A salad can be a good choice if you have one with meat or seafood in it. And don't hold the dressing either. For men, its probably the opposite. Ribs are scrumptious but they can get everywhere so maybe having a dish that goes from your plate, to your fork or spoon, to your mouth is a good idea. Spilling food all over yourself isn't going to win you any points. And I know this is stating the obvious, but never speak with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.

Drinking is usually part and parcel of a dinner date. Or even meeting at a lounge. But drink in moderation, you don't want to be falling over in your drunken state. Neither do you want to say something potentially stupid and embarrassing. Foolishness aside, keep in mind this isn't someone you know very well. And they don't know you well either. You don't want to give them the impression that you normally get that drunk and behave in such a manner.

A simple life

I know that on a first date, you're out to impress. But that doesn't mean having to shell out on something ridiculously extravagant. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most fun. Take a walk on the beach or in a park, go on one of those tour busses, go to a drive-in movie, visit the bowling alley, etc. If the city you live in offers rides in horse-drawn carriages then try it. Visit a fun fair if there's one near you. Maybe go to the zoo. These things may seem a little simple and even childish, but there's a sense of innocence and fun associated with them.

Just let go

Perhaps the most important thing on a first date is to not build your expectations. And don't tell yourself it's going to be a waste of time either. In fact, go with an open mind and the readiness to have a laugh. Don't take it too seriously, you don't have to come across as perfect and you shouldn't get upset if your date isn't perfect either. Be yourself, just a polite version of yourself. If you decide that you just want to have a good time, enjoy a meal or movie, have pleasant conversation and be able to laugh, then you won't have any worries at all. So long as your outlook is positive, you will enjoy yourself and the date.

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