Amy often points out that the skills of dating are themselves like a muscle, and unless regularly exercised, they tend to atrophy. This is true of people both in and out of relationships, and though it is a huge mistake to think that your “dating life” is over just because you’ve found a boyfriend or girlfriend (happy long term couples actively “date” each other throughout their marriage) this can be a particularly hard problem for those of us who are single; if the dating muscles have atrophied and a new date is on the horizon, how can we pretend to have any dating strengths?
Given that we charge our male clients with the responsibility of planning, arranging, and paying for a date, it makes sense to offer the more skittish guys some advice on how to make sure everything at the restaurant goes smoothly. Assuming you survived Part I of this series, and successfully navigated a phone call that has led to a first date, here are some things to keep in mind that can help provide the boost of confidence you might need to convert a first date into a second.
1. Scout the location.
As a guy, it’s really important to have some sense of mastery of your surroundings, especially if you’ve invited a woman to a place she’s never been. While we certainly recommend picking somewhere totally new to both of you if you’re a more practiced or adventuresome dater, go with someplace familiar if first dates are generally hard or stressful for you; we want you to be excited about this, not anxious.
So show up a little bit early, especially if you haven’t been there in awhile. Make sure you check in with the hostess, and maybe try to request a booth or corner table that has low lighting. Or ask to sit outside if the weather is right and you don’t think it will get too cool too quickly (women love dining al fresco, even if they’re rarely properly dressed for it). Make sure you know the answer to the inevitable “Do you know where they hide the ladies’ room?” query that you’ll get at some point during dinner. And even take some time to study the menu while you’re alone and form a couple of questions or opinions about the dishes; if decisions are hard for you, deciding what to eat will be even harder when you’re being distracted by a pretty face.
2. Admit ignorance.
If you aren’t particularly well-versed in any specific food or cuisine, the really great thing about a restaurant is that it’s full of experts who can help you out. Don’t know where the best table is for a first date? Ask the hostess. Not sure what to order? Ask the waiter. Not comfortable ordering a bottle of wine? Ask the sommelier. Some guys might see this as weakness, but admitting what you don’t know is actually a strength; it also gets you off the hook. If the wine is bad, you didn’t pick it. If the table is lousy, you didn’t ask to be seated there. If the dish is awful, blame the waiter. And send it back. All of us like someone who knows a lot about a few things, but no one likes the guy who thinks that he knows a lot about everything. It’s really ok to be ignorant; admitting ignorance in front of your date can allow both of you to learn something. Together. It also lets your date know that you aren’t the kind of guy who always has to have an opinion, which means she’ll likely care a lot more about the opinions that you do have. Confident guys are curious, because they admit they have a lot to learn. Most women will tell you that being a lifelong learner is very, very sexy.
3. Be gentlemanly.
This one should really go without saying, but be sure to open doors for your date, to not sit down until she’s seated, and if you really want to make an impression, stand up if she needs to leave the table in the middle of your date. You should also encourage her to feel comfortable ordering what she’d like (after all, you picked the restaurant) so be sure to signal that you’re feeling both generous and hungry. In other words, saying things like “We’re doing three courses, right” (You’re hungry) and “I’m sort of stuck… not really sure if I want the halibut or the duck” (Your pockets are deep… enough) provides reassurance for her that she should order as she pleases, and she should expect to enjoy the evening.
4. Be clear.
As your meal winds down, don’t be afraid to let her know you’ve had a great time. If you truly mean it, a woman loves hearing “I’ve had a great night” and “I’d like to do this again.” Too often, we hedge our bets and make conditional statements like “If you’re interested, I’d like to go out again” or “I’d like to do this again if you would.” Do not do that. Be direct. It conveys a lot of confidence when you use a declarative statement. After all, no matter how you word them, questions always involves a degree of uncertainty. Yes? No? Yes?
5. Be… the bodyguard.
Whether you had the best date of your life or the worst night you can remember, always offer to walk a woman to her car/hail a cab for her/escort her to a bus or BART stop/stay with her while she waits for an Uber. It might waste a few minutes of your life and you may have hated each other, but it’s still a sign that you’re a good person. And a thoughtful man. On the other hand – with a date you really liked – it could be that extra minute or two alone that builds enough sexual tension and spark to lead to a great first kiss. And if you think the time is right for a great first kiss to happen, be sure to kiss her with confidence.
The third and final part of this series will involve some general tips for building and maintaining confidence in a lot of different situations. If you’re a guy who’s lacking confidence and self esteem, that can change. You really can learn to be more confident. And your entire life will change positively as a result. So stay tuned for more…. 😉