Note: This article appeared on Essence.com in its entirety.
Nowadays, a lot of personal interactions have gotten too technical – literally! – and because of it, dating just ain’t what it used to be. Long, late-night phone conversations have been replaced with exchanging short text messages, and you first find out that a guy is really feeling you because he sent you a tweet using the OOMF hashtag (it means “one of my followers”). And worse, these things replace a first date. I’m seeing a big gap around the “getting to know you” phase of relationships. With all these digital shortcuts on the front end, we have to do a better job of getting to know each other on the back end too.
Getting to know someone is a slow and deliberate process, and the key word here is slow. I think we need to stop trying to sprint to the finish line and take our time to know and understand the person we are dealing with. In recent years, I’ve had to change up my approach to dating to better manage how I get to know the men that I date. I have found a few things that work for me without fail, so I’ve decided to share them with you. Here is my personal list of eight rules for first dates.
1. DON’T DO DINNER
As a general practice, I don’t do dinner on the first date. I have found that long meals with extended hours create too much social or financial pressure. I usually recommend that we meet for coffee or desert, that way neither of us is trapped. Let’s just say that the gentleman I go out with has the personality of a plunger. If it’s just coffee, then I can skip out in 30 minutes without any guilt. And he has only spent five bucks, so he hasn’t made any significant investment either. But if all goes well, then he earns himself a dinner date.
2. DO BE MANNERABLE AND CONSIDERATE
Please and thank you never go out of style. When I’m running late, I call. If I need to change the seating, I ask, “Do you mind?” It’s important to me not to take anyone’s time or feelings for granted.
3. DON’T TALK TOO MUCH
For the past two years, the number one complaint that I have heard from men about their first few dates is that women talk too much. Look a here: I’m the FloJo of chit-chat, so this one got me good. Apparently, when a woman talks nonstop it doesn’t give the man a chance to impress her. Men want to earn our interest and respect and constant tongue wagging robs him of that opportunity. It appears that asking lots of questions is a great way to get him talking and it creates a chance for him to win you over. Note to self: Research lip glue.
4. DO LOOK AMAZING
How many times have men told us that they are visual creatures? I always take the time to look freaking amazing. I focus on looking sexy without showing too much skin. Ladies, a man needs to always earn access to our body, even visual access. Besides, I would prefer that he focuses on the conversation rather than my cleavage.
4. DON’T CONSUME ALCHOHOL
I know you are thinking that I must have bumped my doggone head on this one. But pump your brakes and listen to my logic. In my experience, people tend to get relaxed once they consume spirits – too relaxed in fact. That is when we women tend to say and do inappropriate things. Diarrhea of the mouth or loosey-goosey behavior is not a good look. It’s a sure way not to make it to a second date or to get improperly propositioned on the first one. If you feel like you need to relax take some deep breaths and think, hey, its just dessert. (See how I circled back to number one for you?)
5. DO SHOWCASE LOW-KEY SEX APPEAL
I see the side eye you’re giving me. What in blazes is low-key sex appeal, right? It’s all about the things that men find sexy that have nothing to do with sex. One of the things that men have complimented me on most is my confidence and charisma. Nothing makes a guy want to spend time with you more than being confident, fun and drama free.
6. DON’T BE CRITICAL OR DIFFFICULT
Can I get a woot woot on this one? No one wants to spend time with a person who complains about everything from the parking to the peach pie. To a man, it feels like you’re criticizing his choices. I always keep in mind that he doesn’t know me and he is doing the best he can for now. If I don’t like the location, I bite the bullet and keep my mouth shut. When he finds out later that I was displeased, but didn’t complain, he appreciates me more for holding my tongue.
7. DO FLIRT IN A GIRLY KINDA WAY
Because men are more visual, they pick up more on subtle cues like eye contact, flirty smiles and blushing giggles. I use to think I had no idea how to flirt, but it turns out that I was flirting all along and didn’t know it. It seems that lingering looks and playful touches are just enough to get his engine revved up. Just don’t press the gas on the first date.
8. DON’T ACCEPT AN INVITATION VIA TEXT
I never, never ever accept an invitation for a first date via text message (did I mention never)? The least a fella can do is pick up the phone. And just in case he forgot that I’m worth it, I take a moment to remind him. When I see the exchange headed in that direction, I hit him back with “call me when you get a sec, so we can chat about it.” I have learned that if I don’t take our interactions seriously, then neither will he. If he doesn’t bother to make the call, I file it under the “hell nawl” category and keep it moving.
With all these do’s and don’ts, its important not to forget the most important two rules of dating. Don’t’ forget to be yourself and do remember to have fun!
Jai Stone – The Emotional Nudist
Jai Stone is a socialpreneur, author, syndicated blogger and the founder of the Emotional Nudity Lifestyle Brand. Jai writes about love, life and the pursuit of authentic joy. Follow her on Twitter @JaiStone or visit her blog.