By Brad Ilott
I’m a huge advocate of twentieth-century traditional romance, and a man inviting a woman to dinner at a restaurant. It’s through trial and error you learn the ropes of modern dating, something I know from experience. With the introduction of dating apps, potential partners often feel they know you before you get the chance to show them yourself. Modern romance is supposedly dead, so I’m providing a few no-no’s when navigating the waters of a first date.
- Talk about yourself TOO much
This is the oft-quoted one but I’ve found it to be such a fine line. You don’t want your date thinking you are your favourite subject, so I pretend it’s a job interview and just give the essentials. I’m definitely not boring though, so I add in some trivial/interesting things that engage and entertain but try not go overboard with details. Save that for another time (maybe at a bar after dinner). If there won’t be another time tell them your life story!
- Offer to split the bill
This is conditional. If the date went well and you’re thinking you want another, then I would always offer and leave the response up to her. However, if you’re on the fence or thinking “definitely not” to a secondary rendezvous you ask your dinner companion what they’d like to do. I know it’s 2020 (sometimes the women will ask you first!) but it’s just old-school class and earns invaluable chivalry points.
- Order what your date is eating
I always research the menu beforehand and have a rough idea of what I’ll be ordering. To provide a point of difference, I would order something alternative to your “go-to” and show your versatility. DON’T get the same food (drinking is different – wine anyone?). It’s boring, highlights a will to conform and it won’t get you this reaction from When Harry Met Sally…
- Refer to chats from Tinder, Messenger etc.
Without question the quickest way to derail a flowing conversation. Anything said on a screen that you can remember or use as a reference point is great, but don’t go with the old “I thought it said on your bio that you hate pizza” chestnut. Treat it like the final season of Game of Thrones. You know it exists but forget that it ever happened and move on. I can honestly say I’ve never been guilty of this but have had it happen to me. I found myself struggling to remember what had been said – awkward.
- Go to the most expensive or fancy place you can think of straight away
Don’t pull out all the stops for night one! Unless you think there will be wedding bells in the future (hard to predict before a first date). Hopefully you’re not eating at a McDonald’s, so you want somewhere spacious, intimate, at least three-and-a-half stars on Google Reviews and where cocktail attire is recommended.
- Say how much fun you’re having – RISKY!
Feeling good so far? Usually your body language will signal that to the other side of the table without verbalising it. Stating the obvious is the quickest way to get your date inside your head, which means you have no cards left to play. The reason why I never say this is because it deals you out and opens it up for your date to dictate terms. I don’t like the evening’s fate being in my date’s hands, I like running the show and keeping things moving. If you go to a bar, tenpin bowling or nightclub afterwards, that’s when you can trot out something akin to this classic line.
- Order dessert if the date hasn’t gone well
You should know by this stage whether there’s another date in the pipeline, and dessert is supposed to help celebrate enjoying dinner. If it hasn’t gone well, after dinner you declare your innings closed and call stumps. Usually the hardest questions arrive at the same time as my lemon custard tart (crostata el limone) and I only stick around for a post-dinner grilling when I want to, knowing that the night has gone well.