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If there hadn’t been women we’d still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends.–Orson Wells.

First dates are tricky.  Much rides on them, so it is understanding that they are super stressful…but the important thing to remember is that they’re just as stressful for both members of the party.  Indeed, it seems that first dates are more stressful than job interviews for most people I’ve encountered.  Why?

The reason is because both parties are trying to dress up who they are so that they will be what the other person thinks they will like.  Which is rather dishonest, when you get down to it, and should NOT be something we seek to emulate.  The key, of course, is to be ourselves, as trite as it might sound.

Here’s some things I’ve learned from my good (and horrifying) first dates:

  • Go do things in public places.  This actually eases the stress on your date’s part, the reason being is that she will feel somewhat safer.  Remember a few posts back?  This woman feels safe enough to be with you for this date in the first place, but the first date is her first real time with you.   Again, remember her feelings.  Not only that, but I’m of the opinion you shouldn’t let someone of the opposite sex into your dorm room/house/apartment until date three or four, when you’ve gotten to know each other a little better.
  • Mobile dates are the best–and most fun dates–for both parties.  Like Gaul, the best dates are divided into three parts.  (which can be dropped or added to as needed.)  Start with food.  Table manners can tell you a lot about a person.  If you drink, drink only a little.  Then can follow coffee at another location, or a walk in the park, or gelato and ice cream somewhere else. Or start with something else, and make dinner the second part of the date.  The point is that moving around makes conversation less awkward–you can talk about what you’re doing, and what you’re seeing, while on a kayak, than, say, at a big fancy persian restaurant.
  • Follow her lead.  Don’t push her into doing anything she doesn’t want to do. Body language, of course, is key.  If she doesn’t want to even hold hands–then don’t.  It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you–it just means that she wants to make sure you’re safe.
  • Pay for everything on the first date.  Even if she offers.  Later, on future dates, you guys can argue about it, or split it, but my general rule of thumb is that whoever asked for the date, pays for the date.  Do not ask her to pay for part of it. That’s really very rude.  If she offers, say “thanks, but I’ve got it this time.”  Which would actually be a perfect segway into asking for what you want to do on the second date, because she might have an awesome idea. If your date accuses you of antiquated ideas and of not being feminist, by not letting her pay for her share (yes, this happened to me once), you can always proclaim that, as an Orthodox Gentleman, you prefer doing things the old way.
  • Here’s the best way to know if your date likes you, and if the date was a success: you start planning date two before date one ends. Not kissing, not hand holding, but planning.  It means she’s willing to see you again, and since we’re all gentlemen looking for marriage in the long term here, this is far more important than seeing the inside of her bedroom. It also means she enjoyed your company, which is also pretty important.
  • If you must kiss on a first date, which I don’t really reccomend, a simple peck on the cheek will suffice.  It’s friendly, denotes interest, and isn’t nearly as threatening as jamming your tongue down their throat.   Hugs are also a nice alternative, and this is my preferred method.  To me, a hug says that you’re now welcome in my personal space, and I trust you not to stab me at this juncture.  It says “I am comfortable with you.”  You can be terribly formal and end with a handshake; again, it’s not a bad thing, especially if you’ve planned date two already.
  • If things go badly, end with a handshake anyway and a “Thanks, it was nice to meet you, but things won’t really work out,  I think.”  Some dates are horrible experiences, no matter what.
  • Don’t push a relationship on the first date.  Don’t ask her if you should start calling yourselves a couple.  Just go from one date at a time.  Don’t force things.
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