Episode II: Dating
Yes, I know this is a luxury blog… but dammit if those who don’t appreciate the finer things in life also need some help with the ladies. I’m not going to teach you the erogenous zones (try Google), or how best to run ‘game’ and the perfect neg. If you want that, read The Game (which, actually, is a rather good read… just don’t take it too literally or risk becoming one of ‘those guys’). No, this is my little guide to navigating the world of dating.
Admittedly, I’m now happily married, but before meeting Anna I went through a long phase of being a serial ‘dater’. Thursday nights became date night, and suddenly I had to navigate my way through the dating world. So here’s what I know.
Dating Advice I: Don’t Have Dinner
Don’t arrange to have dinner on a first date. Now, this is subtly different from ‘Don’t have dinner on a first date’, and for good reason. If you arrange to have dinner on a first date, there’s a (very real) chance that before you get your first course you’ll be planning your exit. Except now you’re trapped in some sort of gastronomic prison. You will have to at least see it through the main course, and most likely pay the bill.
The point is, there’s no escape at dinner. First dates are about finding out if you’re compatible. You need an exit strategy.
Now, if you go for drinks, and you get on well, and then decide to get a bite – that’s fine – you’ve established you don’t loath their company, so you be fairly sure you’re not going to end up in the above situation.
Dating Advice II: Have A Plan (and Be a Man)
So, dinner’s off the table, but that doesn’t mean that you just need to wing it. Then again, don’t be so freakishly organised with your date that you actually have to have an itinerary.
Along the same lines: take charge. I can promise you that it quickly gets old if one side of the couple-to-be makes all the decisions. Sometimes it looks good to take charge and be decisive. So, set a time and set a location. Be definitive. Of course, be flexible – don’t be a douchebag – and be willing to improvise.
Here’s a good plan: You meet for drinks – cocktails, beer, wine or coffee, it doesn’t really matter. Then your plan should have two branches. If it’s not going well, you need an off-ramp. You can politely say goodnight and move on. If it is, well, what next? Does the bar do food… or is there somewhere nearby? Figure out what to do next, but I’d suggest you make it seem casual and spontaneous in your suggestion. Pretend like you didn’t have it lined up.
Dating Advice III: Manners
You can’t put a price on good manners. As your mum taught you, they cost nothing. So learn some etiquette, man. But don’t go overboard. I’ve never been one for pulling out the chair for a lady before she sits down, primarily because I think in modern society it feels just a bit contrived. However, I will always do the following (where possible/sensible):
- Help a lady put her coat on
- Pour her drink first
- Hold the door open for her, and let her go ahead of me
- Assume I’m picking up the bill
- Walk on her right side (this is a weird old-school one)
- Let her order first (be it drinks or food)
- Offer her my coat or jacket if she’s cold
Dating Advice IV: Dress for the Occasion
You’re going to look an utter plank if you turn up in a tuxedo to afternoon drinks. Equally, you’ll look a real idiot if you get turned away from a bar because you’re wearing white trainers.
On a first date, there’s a chance you won’t even have met this person yet. You need to be mindful that you won’t necessarily know how the other person dresses. So, you should avoid anything too polarising. Leave your gimp mask and leather trousers for the second (fifth?) date (unless you’re going to Torture Garden…).
The point is this: make the effort when you’re dating. Choose something that’s appropriate for both where you’re meeting and the person with whom you’re meeting.
And for God’s sake iron your shirt and polish your shoes.
Dating Advice V: Phones, Texting, Whatsapp and Cybermanners
I really used to struggle with this bit when I was dating. I could never get it right. I would always want to reply straight away, and, well, this wouldn’t usually work in my favour. So, I’m not going to try to tell you the most effective text-courting strategy… mainly because I never figured it out.
That being said, I was always one to send a text at the end of the evening to say that I had a good time (blah blah blah). On reflection, it might be better to do this the morning after the night before, at least to build a bit of suspense.
Again, I really suck at texting game. I have none. None. That being said, I texted Anna straight after our first date, and I ended up marrying her… so clearly it can’t be that catastrophic.
I can give you this advice though: Don’t be on your phone all evening. Certainly don’t be on Tinder. Put your phone in your pocket and forget about it. Put it on airplane mode, or do not disturb. Just don’t sit there catching Pokemon at the dinner table while your date tries to talk to you. That’s what marriage is for. Marriage is for telling your wife you can’t talk right now because you’re just about to catching a huge Charizard (yes, this has happened). Dates are not.
Dating Advice VI: Location, Location, Location
I’m genuinely not sure if this is a trademarked title. I mean, it’s an epithet for sure… but do Phil and Kirsty own it? I don’t know. I’m going to take the risk.
Where you go for your date is a bit of a catch-22. You want to go somewhere that you’ll both feel comfortable. You’ll have spent some time talking ahead of the date, and hopefully you’ll have a pretty good idea what you both like. If you’re going on a date you must have something in common.
That being said, if you’re into fancy cocktails and she (or he) is really more into ale and is a member of CamRA, the you’re probably going to want to find somewhere in between. If you can.
And don’t go out of your way to make it seem how much money you have. I’m a big believer that you should be going to somewhere that either one of you could afford if you went there of your own volition. The time for swanky restaurants is one or two dates further down the line.
Ultimately (and this is where the catch-22 comes in), you’ve got to ask yourself where your priorities lie. If you simply cannot make it through a single night without a cocktail, and your date is allergic to cocktail bartenders, then you really have to question how compatible you are. So while you may choose somewhere your date will feel comfortable for the first date, well, how long can you keep that up without a martini?