It’s not a secret that first dates have changed from when our parents were our age. No longer do people arrange dinner-and-a-movie dates, get picked up in front of their houses, and get walked to their doors at night. Most dates are now casual affairs; “drinks” and “coffee” are the usual formulas and exist as pre-dates, a feeling-out before an actual first date.
But when a first date does occur, there are so many things people feel like they have to do in order to be liked or even taken seriously. Romance has taken a hit in recent years, sacrificed because it’s cheesy or because, in some cases, it’s residual sexism.
But regardless of how we date in this crazy, mixed-up century, there are some ridiculous notions still left over that people expect to happen on a first date, and they’re not always realistic. This era has evolved, but it hasn’t evolved that much.
1. Old-school dating is gone, so don’t try to bring it back.
Recently, a guy I was talking to offered to pick me up for our first date. Whether or not this is fair, I immediately got creep chills. You’re going to pick me up…in your car…from my house? An alarm bell went off in my head, and I immediately changed plans to allow for us to meet at the restaurant.
Another time, I let my date pick me up and then he made plans for us to meet his bro friends at a sleazy bar, and I had to find an excuse to get out of it because I didn’t want to hang out with random strangers on a first date (that didn’t even go well). Sometimes, traditional dating isn’t right. It has to be tailored to the times. I wish I’d had my own car to go home that night, instead of making up a stupid lie so he would take me home.
2. Romantic gestures are only meaningful if they’re sincere.
Buying flowers or candy for a girl on a first date is all well and fine, but it seems like you’re trying too hard to fit into this idea of what you think you should be doing. Far better to pick a restaurant if you know what my favorite food is, or to do something totally unique on a first date, like go to the circus or a concert, because you’re aware of my interests and my personality. Stock romance isn’t romance at all.
3. You don’t have to pay for everything on a first date.
I’m talking to men here. There are some women who expect men to pick up the tab on a first date, and I don’t agree with that. I agree that it’s a nice gesture to pay for someone else, but if you’re insisting on picking up the tab, then you have to let me reciprocate the gesture, and not with sexual favors. I will buy next time, or I’ll get drinks or dessert or whatever right after. If you pay for me, which is kind, then I’ll pay for you.
4. You can call or text immediately.
I LOVE when a guy I like plays no games and shows that he likes me. It’s an indicator of whether I should expend more emotional effort into this connection. If you don’t text me for three days after a date, chances are I’ve forgotten how much fun I had or how awesome you are. In this fast-paced world of so very many options, three days is a hell of a long time to wait to let someone know you’re even thinking of them. Do what feels natural for you, but don’t do the dance. It’s insincere and you’re being dumb.
Hell—I’ll text first. Just don’t play games with me.
5. Be honest.
Honesty is the best on a first date. If you can’t afford to pick up the bill, say that. I’d rather think you’re poor than an ass, and I’d rather know now so I can get to know you better.
In the end, dating shouldn’t have a clear-cut formula. People expect different things on a first date, so honesty about what you like and what you want saves a lot of confusion, heartache, and annoyance. Be yourself, and you’ll be that much happier—alone or in a relationship.