I’ve been single and dating for over ten years, and I still find myself sitting across from my every first date asking myself, “What is he thinking right this minute?” Guys: if you wonder that too – and how could you not? – let me clue you in.
The First Impression
When you first walk in the door of the place we’ve agreed to meet, I’m watching to see the look on your face when you see me. I’m looking for a smile. If it’s an awkward smile, that’s fine – in fact, I’ll think it’s charming and perfectly normal that you’re a bit nervous. I’m probably relieved, because I’m a bit nervous, too. If you’re too awkward or too nervous to smile – try and relax! At this point, there’s still nothing to lose.
At this point, there’s nothing to lose.
After I catch your eye and smile back, I’ll admit I’m looking at your clothes. But I’m less interested in brand names and matching than I am in whether or not you’re somewhat pulled together and appropriate for the venue. When you sit across from me, I’m still pretty much completely open-minded. Any potential red flags that have been noted at first can easily be dispelled by getting to know each other better. That is, until you open your mouth.
As we start to talk, I have the same goal you do: to impress you with my dazzling wit and intelligent (but safe!) chit chat. You and I are both doing the dance of saying enough to intrigue but not enough to offend, and no matter how much we practice, either one of us might make a slip. If that happens and something comes out wrong, I’m hoping you’ll handle it with grace by acknowledging, apologizing and immediately moving on. That showcases your maturity and your social graces – both major bonus points. Hey, who knew mistakes on a first date could actually be helpful?
Mistakes on a first date could actually be helpful!
When it comes to topics, I’m going to tell you something that defies basic dating “rules”. I’m going to tell you it’s okay to mention politics or religion or other well-known “hot button” issues. Why is that okay? Because we’re all aware that opinions vary widely on these issues, and we’re all aware that we might not share an opinion with our date. If these issues are dealbreakers for you, why not get a feel for how you mesh? I don’t recommend putting all your cards on the table, by any means, but completely avoiding topics that are important to you just doesn’t make sense. Nothing will impress me more than your ability and willingness to amicably discuss something we don’t agree on, without dwelling on our differences of opinion.
The Last Impression
When it comes time to end an encounter, I’m waiting for you to be smart about things. I’ll offer to pay half the tab for our dinner or drinks, and you might respond by offering to pay the whole thing. If by chance I argue with you, let me win. Who spends what doesn’t really matter at all, and if I insist, then I have a reason. You don’t have to know what that reason is to respect my preference. I’ll be impressed if you insist on picking up the tab, but I’ll be more impressed if you let me. Once we have the check taken care of, we’ll get ready to leave. You don’t need to help me on with my coat or even hold a door – but let me tell you that it never fails to please me and has never once offended me.
Who spends what doesn’t really matter at all.
As we’re saying goodbye, I’m at my most watchful of the whole evening. This is the critical moment for both of us. We want to leave a good taste in our date’s mouth, and we want to pave the way for future interactions, if we’re interested, or to neatly close the book on each other if we’re not. If you shake my hand, I’ll immediately assume that any future relationship we have will be completely platonic. Maybe you want to be friends, or even professional contacts, but you’re not interested in a second date. I’ll assume the same if we part company without touching at all. On the other hand, if you walk me to my parking space or my taxi, then I know you’re interested in date number 2. If you hug me, I’m happy, but I’m hoping for a kiss. And if/when you do kiss me, it’s most likely that all I’m thinking about is how to make sure it happens again next time. That’s right, next time. Because if I’m enjoying that kiss … yes, I am absolutely telling myself not to sleep with you on the first date.
So there you have it: a complete play-by-play of what’s going through my mind on our date. See, that wasn’t so bad after all.