It’s no secret that I HATE dating. I don’t mean I hate going out in the world and meeting new humans to have drinks or food with, get to know and potentially mash genitals with. I just hate when those things involve the awkward, somewhat archaic and weirdly rules laden system called DATING. But despite my misgivings, I do occasionally dabble in the dating world, and over the summer I’ve actually managed to go on MULTIPLE first dates (with a couple of them even leading to second dates!) And after a recently and particularly awkward experience, I felt compelled to share some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned about first dating, in the hopes that I can shave a few of you out there from the perils of these first time mating ritual related encounters.
DO be ON TIME for your date
This may seem like a no brainer, but to a chronically late person like me, it’s still a challenge. While I’m generally always late for everything I ever do, I try my best to communicate that with the person I’m meeting, so they can have the benefit of being late too. But for you actual prompt people out there, keep it up, it’ll start things off on the right foot.
DON’T be late, ESPECIALLY with no explanation
Everyone knows how much it sucks to be kept waiting for someone. That suckiness grows exponentially when it’s for something as potentially awkward as a first date. You’re all dressed up, in public, waiting for someone you’re trying to get to know and they don’t even have the courtesy to send you a “I’m trapped in the subway” white lie text. If this is you, get your shit together, or at least pick up the cheque to make up for your rudeness.
DO keep a good conversation flowing
The backbone of a good date isn’t an expensive dinner, an impressive wine list or a spectacularly distracting view. It’s all that talking stuff! This is your chance to share some laughs, stories and the little tidbits that are essential not only in getting to know someone, but in ensuring that getting to know someone process is enjoyable. Ask questions (but don’t interrogate), share some things about yourself and make sure to laugh and make your date laugh as much as humanly possible.
DON’T get into overly awkward, heavy or controversial topics
Again, this may seem like a no brainer, but I’ve been hit by a few doozies recently so it would seem to bear repeating. Arab-Israeli relations are not an appropriate first date conversation topic. Neither is the stint you did in rehab, or what your last therapy diagnosis was. Dropping hints about your “dark past” or “the hardships” you’ve endured aren’t the way to share a bit of yourself with your date – they’re a collection of giant metaphorical red flags your date sees waving all around your head as she politely sips her cocktail and contemplates her escape plan.
DO follow your date’s cues when it comes to PDAs
After a couple of drinks and some of that aforementioned good conversation, a little flirty physical contact can be fantastic. A little touch of a forearm, a hand on the small of a back, maybe even a little handholding or who knows what else – the key here is to make sure it’s working for everyone involved. Follow your date’s cues and reactions; a little blush, a shy smile, a lean in, all those things are a green light to keep that chemistry flowing.
DON’T be overly physically affectionate if your date’s not into it
My last first date was the human version of claustrophobia – I literally and figuratively felt smothered. Attempted public makeouts, awkward hand holding, uninvited massages and that thing guys do where they ALWAYS have to be touching a part of you (I mean just pee on me to mark your territory why don’t you) all happened in the span of a couple of hours. Hint to all you overly touchy boys out there – if you have to ask your date if you’re making her feel uncomfortable with your constant attempts at physical contact, maybe you should rethink your life choices, and keep your hands to yourself.
DO whatever feels right at the end of your date.
If you’ve enjoyed the time you’ve spent with your co-dater, then follow your instincts and do whatever feels right to end off the experience. If that means a quick hug, a peck on the cheek, a public makeout or an adult sleepover, then go for it! You do you, and whoever else you’d like to for that matter.
DO NOT let old fashion and usually sexist rules shame you or hold you back
I’m sure you hear it all the time, especially if you happen to be of the female persuasion – DON’T HAVE SEX ON THE FIRST DATE. I’m sure you’ve heard the myriad of reasons behind this slut-shamey and old fashioned piece of advice. It’s sets a precedent, he’ll think you’re easy, he’s got what he wanted from you so you’ll never see him again. Frankly all that is sexist and outdated. If you’d rather get to know someone before jumping into bed with him/her, then by all means do it! But don’t let someone’s idea of propriety and a tattered copy of “He’s just not that into you” be the impetus for anything you do in your dating life.
When it comes to successful dating, there really are no rules. It doesn’t matter who pays the bill (yes ladies, it really doesn’t – welcome to 2015 where we’re trying to close the gender wage gap, you can pay for your own drinks on a first date), how often he/she texts you or even if you fuck on the first date. Be respectful, be open minded and make sure that fun is your first priority. If we can all ease up on the rules and take the pressure of FINDING YOUR ONE TRUE LOVE off the table, maybe, together, we can make dating something to look forward to, rather than something you (I) dread. Happy dating!