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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

First Date Blunders

In the midst of all of the many issues that come up during dating, such as discussing children and lunch dates, it seems as if we have skipped over the broad issue of first date etiquette. While there are so many things that can be bouncing around a person’s head while on a date—should I have just held in that sneeze? —we often forget the simple things, like even just remembering to say “please” and “thank you.” It is the courteous little gestures that make such a difference and even though they may seem insignificant, do not go unnoticed. You can tell her for ten minutes about how important you are, but if you don’t thank your waiter, it won’t make any difference.



First things first. Door holding is always a nice, polite gesture. But it’s very common. People, both sexes, do it for others all the time. At malls, restaurants, wherever. But when I recently went out to a restaurant with a guy and he pulled out my chair for me, I melted a little. There was something sweet, sincere, and old-fashioned about it. And I’m the type of girl who likes to do everything myself, but suddenly, I found myself thinking he was the type of guy I could see myself being around all the time. If someone is so thoughtful to take the time to pull out a chair for someone, what other things do they do? It’s a very small gesture, but it’s very endearing. It is the perfect way to start any meeting because it automatically shows you are considerate and attentive but not in an overbearing way.

Before you even sit down, you should be sure that your cell phone is off. Or at least on silent. Maybe you had it on in case you were going to call when you got there to meet. It was a blind date, you needed directions, whatever the case may be, but when you finally meet and are sitting there, please, turn it off. Nothing is more annoying than sitting across from your date mid-conversation and hearing the tune of his ringer be Bryan Adams “Summer of 69” but in real ringtone form so the whole restaurant hears “Got my first real six-string, bought it at the five and dime,” and amidst your embarrassment, there is also the great annoyance at him actually answering it. There are two possibilities: a) it’s actually one of his buddies—“yeah, oh I’m on a date. It’s going alright. Yeah, man. I’ll call you later. Drinks? Maybe. b) It’s “the” date call, to either save them, or to let his friend know it’s going okay. You didn’t know people actually still used those anymore because they really are that transparent. Either way, cell phones on a date are a bad idea and should be avoided.

Yes, your date should be courteous to you, and the door holding and pulling out the chair are nice gestures, but being polite to the restaurant staff is a sure way to show how he treats other people in everyday life. He will be trying hard to impress you, and he won’t be trying to impress them, so when they come around, chances are he will be acting like his normal self. Watching how he interacts with them will provide you with a little glimpse into his normal routine. Watch carefully. Does he say “please” and “thank you?” Guys, take note. Be kind to your waiters and waitresses. Your date does notice. And even if you’re not trying to impress anyone, be kind anyway.

And on that courteous note, is your date thirsty? Are you out of bread? If things are running low at the table, be quick to get the waiter’s attention when she needs something. She’ll appreciate the fact that you are so attentive to her needs (and the fact that you don’t mind her indulging in carbs). By noticing when her drink needs a refill it shows simply that you are paying attention to her. And what girl doesn’t want your focus?

You know how it seems like the waitress always comes to ask how your meal is right when you have a mouth full of food? It’s like they do it on purpose, right? So don’t ask your date a question right when she has just taken a bite. It’ll be awkward for her to try and tell you all about her fascinating day at work and uncomfortable for you to sit there while bits of lettuce are being shot at you through her clenched teeth.

Don’t drink like you’re at a frat party. I know a couple drinks help to ease the tension of a first date a little, but just don’t go overboard. It’s seems like common sense, but when one drink leads to two, and that leads to ten, the first date leads to nowhere. If you actually like your date, it’s not a good idea to be a booze bag on the first one.

Ah, the check. I’m a firm believer in equal rights when it comes to paying, and not in the sissy girl “reach” thing. I guess that the standard is, whoever asks shall pay, and I suppose that makes sense. So let’s just stick with that. But girl, if you have the guts to ask him out, you better expect to be treating.

The first date can be daunting, horrifying, scary, nerve-wracking, exciting, fun, wonderful, entertaining and amazing. It is an experience you are likely to remember. Sure, you will make many mistakes. Both of you will. But it’s a first, that’s what it’s for. You’ll have plenty of dates afterwards to make up for it.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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