Sure, meeting new people can be exciting, but let’s face it: any way you slice it, first dates suck! It doesn’t matter whether you’re set up by mutual friends, if you met online, at a bar or you’ve known each other for years. The only thing that makes a first dates bearable is the possibility that maybe your fancy dinner or casual coffee shop jaunt could lead to a relationship.
Truly, the worst part of any first date is the constant stream of questions that tend to invade our minds when we are readying ourselves to spend time with someone in a romantic setting for the first time. Questions like…
What will you wear?
Is there anything worse than being fashionably-unprepared? In my opinion there are few things more nerve-wracking than selecting an outfit for a date. After all, you want to match your outfit to the activity you will be participating in, but you don’t want to be more or less “gussied-up” than your date. Then there’s the unpredictable weather, and air conditioning or heat to contend with.
What will you do?
Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I am nearly incapable of deciding which restaurant to go to on a Friday night. I don’t even like deciding what kind of food the group should eat! Add a romantic component with a relative stranger and I feel completely unequipped to pick a place to chow down. Food preferences and allergies also have to be considered…most people do not find an emergency room to be a good setting for a date.
But what if you don’t want to eat a meal? The importance of deciding on an activity cannot be understated and will force you to contemplate whether you or your date are adventurous – or, if you would be comfortable going to someone’s house, or inviting the person over to your place for a first date. Will a movie or concert provide you with enough time to talk and get to know one another? You then have to account or how far each of you would be willing to travel, or how much money you would be willing to spend on one date.
How will you get there?
Will you be meeting each other at your venue of choice or should one of you pick the other up? Should the person who did the asking volunteer their gas, cab money or bus fare, or should the person who accepted the invitation do so as a “thank you” or to simply be fair? Should one member of the party offer repayment at the end of the date? Is such an offer contingent upon the date going well?
Who is responsible for paying?
Not only do you have decide what form of payment you should bring on a date, you have to decide who will be footing the bill for the date. Is it possible to split the cost between you and your date? Should the person who asked the other on the outing be expected to pay? Should the other person expect to pay? How many times is it appropriate to offer to pay before you can decline and let the other person provide payment? Is it considered sexist or merely traditional for a man to pay for a woman he has asked on a date?
Should you continue dating?
By the end of the date, both people involved should have an idea of how terrible or awesome the engagement (Relax! It’s just a synonym!). Who should bring up the topic of a second date? Most people will tell you there is a set number of hours or days (depending on whom you take your dating advice from) one must wait before arranging a second date. Unfortunately, this means striking an almost impossible balance between over-eager and standoffish. But who contacts whom? Should the person who originally did the asking continue the trend? Or should the person who agreed to the first date take the reigns for the second date?
If you are not interested in pursuing further dates, who is responsible for breaking the (potentially) bad news? What is the right way to tell someone you would like to move on to? How do you “let someone down easy?” If one or both parties decide the night was a bust, does this change the issue of payment/repayment?
Clearly, I don’t have many answers to questions about first dates. But I know dating is supposed to be fun! It’s a chance to hopefully move outside your comfort zone and discover the things you value and appreciate in a future life partner.
The important thing to remember is this: you never have to compromise, and there really is someone out there for everyone. First dates may suck, but eventually there will be a last first date…now that’s something to look forward to.