Monday, March 31, 2014

A Date Night Etiquette Guide: What's Acceptable?

There it is, that gut-wrenching moment when he checks his phone, not once, not twice, but three times, and then lingers on it, completely uninterested in the dolled-up girl sitting across the table from him. I watched this happen recently when I out to dinner with Logan. We sat, enjoying each other and a glass of wine, when he discreetly pointed over my shoulder and said, "I feel bad for that girl over there. He's not even paying attention to her." A quick glance revealed a young man on his cell phone, while the girl he was dining with poked at her food with her fork, not eating. That man sat on his phone through their entire meal. Ahead of me, the same instance with another couple, but with both of them playing on their phones the entire time. Logan said to me, "Why bother taking her out if you're not going to enjoy her company?" When we go out, we make the best of it! I don't have the luxury of a babysitter just lying around, awaiting my beck and call.
I thought on this, and realized Logan made a fine point. But not simply why bother?, but more importantly, why be so unkind? Why make it so blatantly obvious you are not interested as to leave a girl sitting in silence, feeling self-conscious? I decided it was time to get back to basics, and go over some rules for date night. Whether you're on a first date or your twentieth, these rules will make your time and money worthwhile, as well as improve your relationship.
Leave The Electronics Behind
We are in quite the electronic age. We depend on our phones and tablets daily, whether it be a reminder to remove the casserole from the oven or for managing your own business. This is entirely understandable. But when on a date, turn them to vibrate and don't answer unless it is absolutely important. Be willing to sacrifice an hour or so of your time, otherwise the date is wasted.
Show Some Manners
There is nothing more unattractive than a date without basic manners. Place your napkin in your lap, don't eat like a glutton, and don't drink yourself into a giggly mess. Honestly, ladies, don't do this, especially on a first date. Showing you can hold your liquor in public is hardly attractive. Don't swear every other word. Be kind to your server. Express your pleases and thank yous. If your order is incorrect in anyway, be kind in your approach to the staff. Unless you're at an art gallery, or something akin to this, don't let your eyes wander around the aimlessly. Focus your attention on your guest. Ask him/her questions, more so if it's a first date, and make an effort to connect and get to know each other. This, after all, is the point of a date.
What To Order On A Dinner Date
This can easily leave you wondering, certainly not wanting to appear rude for salivating over that succulent picture of lobster displayed before you. I have the benefit that Logan will come right out and tell me how much he has budgeted for a meal. Depending, he'll tell me "Let's try to keep it around $10-$15 a plate" or "If you want the lobster, go ahead." No problem! Lobster it is! But not all dates are quite this forthright. I personally wouldn't be so forthright as to ask what your spending limit is, because this can put the payer of the bill in an awkward position. If they have not come out and told you to order whatever you like, then a good rule of thumb is to ask what they are having. If they say they're having a burger, you know to order something a little less expensive. If they are going for steak and potatoes, consider it the median price range. If they want the whole shebang, steak and lobster and cocktails, go ahead and indulge along with him/her. But be sure to keep those cocktails to a minimum.
Who Pays The Bill
This can often be an awkward moment of contention on a date. Whether you're at dinner, headed to a movie, or going somewhere else, you never want to be caught by surprise. My rule of thumb has always been whoever asked should pay. If he has asked, but left it a little unclear, don't hesitate to be upfront about it. "Should I plan to purchase my own ticket?" This is discreet and inoffensive. If the lady has asked, but come time to pay the bill, he offers, let him. He is trying to be gentlemanly, and refusing to let him will only be a shot at his pride. Simply say thank you.
The End Date
What happens at this point is purely between you and your date. But just a little advice, if this is a first date that has not gone as well as you would have hoped, continue to be kind. Walk the lady to her door, thank her for her company, and say goodnight. That's it. If it went great, great! But have a little respect for one another. If they want to invite you inside, they will. If they don't, don't invite yourself. That is about as unattractive as proving you can hold her liquor, only to learn you cannot. Again, thank her for her company and, if you want, ask if you can see her again. If you're on your twentieth date and the babysitter is waiting, head on in and enjoy the fact that the house is quiet and you didn't have to put the kids to bed!
Image courtesy of Stef Lewandowski
Editing by NewlyMynted
Graphic design by NewlyMynted

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