There are mistakes, and there are deal-breakers. Here are five of the latter.
DON’T AVOID THE CHECK
I’ve been through it all – a date asking me to split the bill; a date with a lost wallet; a date storming out in the middle of dessert, claiming the waiters were flirting with me, and thus leaving me with a hefty tab (I don’t think I’ve ever heard my father angrier than when I told him the latter story. He was seconds away from hopping a flight and tracking down my date to teach him a lesson in manners). But through the myriad of dating misadventures, I stick to the belief that both the man and the woman should offer to pay for dinner. Don’t be mistaken, if it’s the first couple of dates, the man should never actually take the woman up on her offer. Nevertheless, the protocol is quite simple: the man should be a gentleman and pay, the woman should be a lady and offer.
DON’T BE GREEDY
With the astonishing prevalence of tapas-style restaurants, chances are you’re going to go on a date where you’ll be encouraged to share a series of small plates. You’d be surprised how many people do not understand this concept. It doesn’t matter that you are a man and clock-in at two times my weight. I would still like to have half of the bruschetta and half of the short ribs. Because frankly, if you’re not willing to be generous at the dinner table, I doubt you’ll be a giver in other situations as well. That’s right, like in bed.
DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH
Nothing evokes nerves quite like a dinner date, and it’s wildly tempting to quell apprehension with a boozy elixir, but trust me on this one, the date will go much more smoothly if you maintain a handle on alcohol consumption. I’m not suggesting you skip that bottle of Barbera, which pairs so well with your burrata pizza, I’m simply suggesting you consume in moderation. Take it from my 21 year old self: Back in college I was so wildly nervous about going on a date with a gorgeous soccer player, Ryan, that I decided to fix myself a pre-date white Russian. The first drink fogged my judgement, and somehow 30 minutes later I was three drinks deep watching the ceiling whirl at cyclonic speed. I had to cancel the date. Point being, I’m no longer a 21 year old sorority girl, and neither are you. By now we should know how to handle our liquor, and cope with our nerves without it.
DON’T GET TOUCHY-FEELY
Want a surefire way to guarantee your date will never return your phone calls? Get handsy. This applies to men and women alike. No one wants to be put in a predicament where they’re slowly inching away because you put your unwelcome hand on their thigh, especially in a location as public as a restaurant. Have some restraint, for goodness sake. The appropriate affection gauge is based on how many dates you two have had. If you’re on a first date, paws off. No question. You don’t know each other well enough to presume your date is into you. But if you’ve made it through several dates and you want to reach across the table to squeeze her hand? Go for it. She’s probably into you too.
DON’T CHECK OUT THE WAITERS
If you dine at a restaurant in Los Angeles, the staff is going to look like they leapt from the cast of The Vampire Diaries and materialized at your table. It’s difficult, but don’t ogle. Your date will notice. Not to mention, catching a glimpse of someone that is as ravishing as Nina Dobrev is also going to hinder your ability to carry on conversation. If you can’t help the wandering eye, offer your date the better view of the room. She’ll think you’re a gentleman, and you’ll stop gawking.