“Oh, this is the night, it’s a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte
Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes
On this lovely bella notte.” ~ Bella Notte
~ From Lady and the Tramp, Composed by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee
This is the first in a series of entries devoted to observing Women’s National History Month during March in the U.S.
Traditional dating still exists for most people, with the possible exception of younger Millennials — and I encourage them to try it! Thus, it’s helpful when men understand what women expect leading up to, during and after that important first date.
Respect is the core value that should drive one’s actions and attitudes, whether it’s the first date or the fiftieth. Whatever happens afterward, your goal is to leave a woman with the memory of a confident, sophisticated and decent man. Following are steps that will help you to win a woman’s respect and attention:
Have a Plan
Women like a man with a plan. Tickets to a concert, a casual date at a cozy coffee house or an informal afternoon at a nice tea room are good choices. And you can’t miss with dinner at a popular bistro or upscale restaurant provided they are places she would like; a vegetarian will not be thrilled with a steak house, for example. If you opt for the coffee or tea date, do so well before or after the dinner hour as it’s inconsiderate to stretch a coffee date into the dinner hour without offering a meal. Do avoid inviting her to your apartment on a first or second date; that implies that you are not interested enough to take her out somewhere or that you have something else in mind.
However structured, formal or casual your date is, plan it out to the last detail, and include a backup plan. Doing so will allow you to relax, be cool and focus on your date instead of worrying that you’ve overlooked something. And it will demonstrate to your date your sincere interest in her comfort and enjoyment.
Real Men Don’t Text
Texting is appropriate sometimes, but not when you’re asking someone out on a first or even second date. Show your interest and savvy by asking her out in person or over the phone. Even if you know her well, when asking a woman out on a date you need to behave differently. Reserve texting for people you know very well, casual situations, brief updates, urgent matters (when it’s faster to text), or business situations where it is the practice.
Timing is Everything
When asking in person, wait for an opportune moment to speak with her privately. Avoid calling her first thing in the morning, during the dinner hour or after 9:00 p.m., unless there are exceptions based on her schedule. Ask whether it’s convenient to pick her up at home or meet her. Confirm the date the day before (or sooner if tickets or reservations are involved).
Be punctual. If you’re picking her up at home, arrive on time but not early; and although it’s a nice gesture to bring a small bouquet of flowers it’s not necessary on the first date, especially if it’s casual. The second date, yes! When meeting your date, arrive 10-15 minutes early. Plan ahead for parking if you’re driving; and turn the radio/CD player off so you can talk en route.
If you’re unavoidably detained call (or in this case text) her so she’s not kept wondering. If reservations are involved, call ahead so they’re not given away.
Appearance, Grooming and Hygiene
Wherever you’re headed dress neatly and well. You can look spectacular in a pair of jeans or a tux if you take the same care in putting yourself together from head to foot, ensuring that your clothing, accessories and jewelry are clean and in top-notch condition. Polish your shoes to a high shine; if you’re wearing athletics they should be clean and in excellent condition. Women notice
They also notice your grooming and hygiene, which you should practice regularly but most definitely before your date:
- Brush, floss and rinse your teeth.
- Shower, shave and use deodorant. Go easy on the aftershave and cologne and aim for a light, clean masculine scent.
- Trim and groom your beard and mustache. Check it frequently while eating and drinking to pat it dry and remove any food that might become caught.
- Get a good haircut, and keep it neat and clean. If you wear dreads, maintain them properly.
- Clean, trim, file and buff your nails — both fingers and toes. Better yet, treat yourself to a mani-pedi, which are not-for-women-only (and if it’s good enough for a combat veteran…)!
- Avoid smoking even where it’s permitted; that includes any kind of cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Smoking can promote bad breath and be unpleasant for others to watch and breathe in.
Practice the Niceties
Opening doors (you go first through a revolving door), holding chairs, helping her in and out of the car or taxi, offering her a vacant seat on the subway or bus, holding her coat while she slips into it, standing up when she leaves the table or returns to it, picking up something that she drops, holding an umbrella over her head in the rain and the like are all actions men should take. Women appreciate such niceties when out socially. They do not indicate a woman’s weakness or inequality, but are socially acceptable niceties that speak to a man’s maturity and sophistication.
Important: Turn off your cellphone and keep it off during the entire date. The only time it’s permissible to use your cell is if your date excuses herself and you’re alone for a few minutes, but turn it off the instant she returns.
Food will be involved on most dates, so whether you’re dining on lobster tail and champagne at a five star restaurant, a buffet at a casual eatery or pizza at the local pub your table manners need to be perfect. Treat the wait staff with respect and know how to order smoothly. For example, ask your date what she likes, suggest something on the menu or offer to order for her; then give the server both your orders. If your date prefers to order for herself or ask the server questions, graciously sit back. If she doesn’t drink, you shouldn’t either. If she does, order a cocktail and / or wine during dinner, but don’t over indulge.
Focus on your date; find out what her college major or job entails, what she likes and dislikes, what her aspirations are, etc. For tips refer to my entry, The Skillful Dinner Conversationalist.
Take It Slow
In bygone times some men expected a woman to repay her date for dinner by spending the night with him. Today as it was back then it is crass to rush your date to have sex. On the other hand, the man who takes things slowly will demonstrate that he respects the woman he is with, cares about her feelings and wishes, and values the potential relationship.
When saying goodnight to your date if you want to see her again, tell her so. If you’ve exchanged email addresses and cellphone numbers, it’s okay to send a brief email or text the next day (I had a great time last night and look forward to getting together again soon). Call her no later than the day after that to arrange the next date. If you’ve decided that this is not the person with whom you want to pursue a relationship, be direct about it and very kind. It’s never good form to keep someone dangling. Conversely, if she declines a second date, accept her decision graciously.
If She Does The Asking
If a woman asks you out on a first or subsequent date, everything remains the same with the exception of a few details, such as who picks up whom or if you should meet somewhere. If a woman asks out a man, she should pay. The man may offer to split the bill, but he should tread carefully. Today’s woman is independent and likely wouldn’t have asked you out if she wasn’t prepared to make arrangements and pick up the tab.
The Pitfalls of Online Dating
An outgrowth of the Internet is the phenomenon of online dating. But there are many pitfalls to limiting your socializing to using sites such as Tinder and texting instead of talking and face-to-face socializing. Solid relationships are formed by human contact, not superficially behind a computer screen.
The best relationships, strongest marriages and long and happy lives often start with a great first date! Good luck with yours!
Until next time,
Photos courtesy of Pexels