When it comes to first date etiquette, it’s usually about trying to take your awesome self to the next level.
Not because you have something to prove, but because first dates are about showing your best self.
You need to be alert and prepared for anything, but you also need to keep your emotions in check, because this person — even if you’ve been talking to them for weeks through an online dating service — is still basically a stranger.
It’s a delicate balance of being open and keeping your wits about you.
But while you’re there to make a great first impression, you’re also there, to be honest about yourself and what you’re looking for.
You don’t want to fake your behavior or attitude in any way, because seriously, what do you get if you fake it?
In our opinion, true first-date etiquette is about putting your needs first in a way that is considerate and respectful of the person sitting across from you.
While old-fashioned first date etiquette tells you to dress up, be polite and cross your legs, there’s a lot more to this archaic nonsense.
Here’s your updated version of first date etiquette – because even a jungle can have rules.
1. Always make an effort to be punctual
Yes, things happen, but you really don’t want to keep your date waiting.
This is no fun for anyone.
If you’re more than 10 minutes late, be sure to message them and keep the person informed.
2. Put your goddamn phone away
Unless you’re waiting for your best friend to give birth because you know she’s in labor or there’s some other dire emergency, put your phone down.
All your friends know where you are, so if you don’t text back asap, they’ll understand.
You want to make sure your suitor knows he has your full attention.
If your phone is down and you’re not texting, you’re conveying to friends that the person in front of you is much more important.
3. Recognize that weirdness is just part of the game
First dates can be very awkward.
When you find yourself in the midst of deep silence, simply say something like, “Wow. What a silence. Let’s change the subject,” is actually the kindest thing to do.
Pointing out the elephant in the room is always a good idea.
It also creates a kind of bond.
4. Be honest about what you’re looking for
The first meeting is the place to expose your expectations for the future.
If you’ve met through online dating, take the opportunity to talk about why you’re online and what you hope to gain from it.
If you’re hoping to find true love and they’re just looking for a relationship, you need to know from the start so you can escape if you need to.
5. Be clear about your circumstances
If you’re unemployed or currently sleeping on a friend’s couch for whatever reason, get it all out.
While it’s always a good idea to keep a few things to yourself on the first date — especially when it comes to your romantic past (but we’ll get to that in a minute), when it comes to things that can get you into trouble while you’re dating, you should. bring this up early.
Encourage him to do the same, and you’ll save each other a lot of time.
6. Don’t be too critical
It’s important to follow your standards, but it’s also important to have an open mind.
If your date shows up in an outfit you loathe or has some sort of physical thing that you don’t find completely attractive, don’t throw in the towel right away.
Judging is totally normal, but judging to the point where you’re not even giving your crush any slack, chance, or the benefit of the doubt is a bad attitude.
7. If you like him, make a lot of eye contact
Your eyes can actually show the person that you are interested or, if applicable, bored.
If you know you’re one of those people who has trouble making eye contact, let him know.
It’s better for him to know that it’s hard for you, rather than thinking that you’re just disinterested and rude.
8. Really listen to what he’s saying
So maybe you’ve stumbled upon a subject that is slowly killing you because you have zero interest; that is good.
At least listen to what he’s saying so you can give more than an “Mhm”.
9. Ask questions
By asking questions, you are also creating a dialogue.
When one person continues and there is no feedback from the other side, things can go down the drain quickly.
You should pay attention to whether you are asking him questions and seeing if he reciprocates.
10. Be as open-minded as possible… While you may not love everything he’s saying, you need to be open about it.
You can’t get to know someone if you can’t be open-minded enough to give them a chance.
It may be your initial reaction to turn him off when he says he likes country music or that the president is ruining the country, but give him a chance to talk about it.
It may be rare, but sometimes total opposites fall in love and live happily ever after.
Be open to the fact that the night can take the two of you anywhere.
11. … But don’t stray too far from your comfort zone
If your partner suggests something that doesn’t sit well with you, don’t do it.
While he might think it’s a great idea to take shots or go out without paying the bill (yes, that was once suggested to me on a date), don’t succumb to anything that makes you uncomfortable.
You are under no obligation to do something you just don’t want to do.
12. Take a stand if things get weird
If your crush crosses one of your personal boundaries or does anything else to make you realize he’s not a good person for you, don’t be afraid to tell him so.
You have nothing to lose because you’re probably not going to date him anymore anyway.
Think of it as a favor for your future first dates.
13. Don’t worry about your ex…
If he asks, be as honest as you feel comfortable, but be careful not to speak ill.
This encounter is about a fresh start and there’s plenty of time to reminisce about your past if you get involved.
If he talks about his ex, just smile and make a mental note.
If he talks bad about his ex, then ugh.
He just said goodbye to a second date.
14. …but speak up if you are not emotionally available
While you don’t have to reveal your whole story, if you know you’re fully recovered and have no interest in a relationship, you should be honest about it — especially if you can tell he likes you or wants something long-term.
15. Never feel like you need to justify your beliefs
If you’re faced with negative judgment because of something you believe in, don’t feel like you need to explain yourself.
Your beliefs are yours and you are under no obligation to justify anything.
If you think being a vegetarian is great and he complains about it, don’t let him think you’re in the hot seat.
We are all entitled to our opinions.
16. Don’t fight to pay the bill
If he offers to pay and you feel comfortable doing so, accept.
But if you offer to pay half and he won’t let you don’t fight too hard about it just to prove you’re cool, especially if it was a great night.
Ending an argument will leave a bad taste in both mouths.
Of course, if you feel like he’s not really respecting your payment preference, that’s not cool either – and you should tell him so.
17. Don’t be afraid to call it a night
It’s your life, your time is valuable, and you have a couch and sweatpants waiting for you at home.
Don’t force it if you know it’s not right for you.
You don’t have to get another drink or stay longer than you want to.
This is the final rule you must follow – for you and for him.