Speaking as a single, 31 year old woman living in New York City, I can tell you that I have been on a number of first dates in my time and many have been with men who are so out of touch with how to act like a gentleman I thought I was on a date with a primate… and not a primate like a chimp either. A primate with a tail that more closely resembles a lemur than a cousin of man.
Now I am far from a lady of class – I’m not a Kennedy or a Rockefeller or a Carnegie or a Lauder – but I do know that manners and etiquette will get everyone farther than you think. Therefore, I am offering up some suggestions – and these are listed in no particular order since they are all important – on how to make an impression on the ladies you meet. Afterall, if you are going to spend your money on a night out, you may as well put your best foot forward since you are paying the tab (and yes, you should pay).
Wine – You do not have to be a French sommelier in order to impress your date with a bottle of wine. All you need to do is ask what pairs nicely with the dish and order it. If bottles are suggested, you don’t have to order something that costs $150, especially if you and/or your date aren’t connoisseurs. You just can’t choose the cheapest bottle on the list – you know, the one that costs $20 and tastes like cheap, flat beer. Also, when the wine arrives, don’t swirl it so vigorously that you spill it onto the table. Just sip it, or better yet, allow her to sip it first. If she likes the taste, accept the bottle. Easy, right?
Drinking wine – Don’t ghetto-handle the wine glass. Don’t ghetto-handle any glass but a wine glass with your palm print on it is really off-putting. Hold the glass by the stem since that is what it is there for. Also, don’t gulp the wine. It’s not Gatorade and there is no rush.
Opening and Pulling and Picking Up and Ordering – Open doors, all doors all of the time. Pull out chairs. Pick up things she may drop, like a napkin at dinner, and pick up the check. Let her order first. If she needs a moment, tell the server to come back. Don’t order first and then rush your date. That’s not cool. If she orders wine, feel free to get a cocktail but match her drinks. Do not get drunk and leave her to watch you misbehave. That will not get you a call back and you will be left telling your story to your boys about how she was a stick in the mud… but they will know, and you will know, you blew it by getting wasted.
Eating – This is important. Eat like a human being. Use the proper silverware for the appropriate course. If you are unsure, look it up beforehand. Don’t use a salad fork when eating steak. Don’t use your teaspoon to eat bisque. Don’t employ chopsticks if all you are going to do is stab your noodles and complain. Don’t slurp, lick your chops, spit anything out unless absolutely necessary, eat off of her plate unless she invites you to, feed her unless she accepts the offer! All of these things seem simple enough but they aren’t generally observed behaviors.
Picking the venue – Men, you should always aim to impress your date but that means a lot of different things, especially in New York City or other cosmopolitan cities where the entire world seems as if it is at your fingertips. Ask your date where she would like to go, or if she likes a particular type of cuisine you choose the place. Also, be mindful of your wallet. Don’t take her to Le Bernardin if all you can afford is a salad and two coffees. Some tiny hole in the wall with great food and a fun atmosphere is perfectly fine. It’s the company, not the strangers, that will make the night. You should also know if she is more casual or fancy. I, myself, am totally casual and would be out of place in some trendy lounge, preferring a tapas bar and a game of pool over the Meatpacking District scene. But there are ladies out there who wouldn’t know anything about pool and would feel out of place ordering a bunch of little plates. Bottom line, know your date and make her comfortable.
Be yourself – All of these suggestions are nothing if they are taken into account to such an extent that you are no longer yourself. Be yourself. Be funny and quirky and sarcastic and whatever else comes naturally to you but don’t be an animal. Take your date into consideration at all times and make the night special so she wants to see you again, the real you.
Compliment her – Don’t tell your date she has on a nice dress or pretty shoes. Those compliments can come from a woman on the street that thinks she has nice style. Tell her she has nice ear rings, or you like the way she did her hair. Say something that you can’t appreciate from a mile away, and something she put thought into. (Secret: Women chose what they wear on dates with purpose, so acknowledge it and it will go a long way.)
Candidly, it’s not hard for girls to get free dinners, aka get a date. The trick about getting the second date with someone you enjoy is to be a nice person, be generous and kind and considerate and have manners. If you drop your chopstick or a burp slips out, that’s fine – just laugh it off. But don’t do it again.
Bottom line, have fun. Make your night a great one and just be mindful of your actions. First dates are the hardest interviews you will ever go on so make the most of them.
From a gentlemen's perspective... coming from a single 34 year old guy living in the UK, I total agree with this article. I consider myself to be old fashioned when it comes to going out on dates with women, I always try to live up to the content of this article. I always open doors for a lady, and despite of the tradition of going dutch that has become popular these days, I can never let a woman pay for dinner. Well written and an enlightening read. I will ensure I continue to take note of what was said. Yours JT http://aiweb20.wordpress.com