First Dates Should Always Be Dinner Dates—Here’s Why

Once upon a time, I entered into a relationship with a guy I had major reservations about on our first dinner date. He somehow managed to execute every single faux pas at the table and I foolishly dated him anyway (he was really hot). It was no surprise that his dining habits reflected the type of boyfriend he would be, which is why from now on, I’ll have every first date at a restaurant.

  1. Choosing the restaurant for the first date sets the standard for your relationship. The morning of our first date, I was excited to see a text from him waiting for me as I got out of my meeting. To my disappointment, it read, “Where do you want to go tonight?” He’s the one who asked me out but he wanted to know where I should take myself? It was clear that he put no thought into the evening and not surprisingly, that didn’t end after the first date. Anytime we went out, it felt like I was dragging a 5-year-old to the dentist.
  2. Be on time or you won’t be mine. Being late ruins a date. Being tardy disrupts the party. All rhyming aside, here’s the cold hard fact: Lateness is the ultimate form of disrespect. He showed up 20 minutes late and didn’t even think to apologize. Did he believe that his time was more precious than mine? To no one’s surprise, he was continuously late for the entirety of our three-month relationship.
  3. Getting seated shouldn’t become a game of musical chairs. Few tables met his ridiculous standards and it was humiliating to follow him from one to the next. It was either too close to the bathroom or front door, too loud, or directly under the air conditioning vent. We moved three times, you guys. When he turned around, I mouthed “I’m so sorry” to the hostess, but she deemed me guilty by association. It didn’t take me long to realize that he was an entitled jerk and that this game of musical chairs was just the tip of the iceberg.
  4. I need to see that a guy can chew his food like a human. Dogs are great, but I don’t want to date one. His chewing reached the same decibel of an airplane engine and nearly made my ears bleed. He chewed with his mouth wide open like Cookie Monster and continued to have a conversation with an entire pork shoulder wedged between his teeth. Guess what? His loud chewing was like a gateway drug to other obnoxious behavior. He monopolized conversations, had the last word in every disagreement, and made it rain with offensive comments.
  5. The way you treat the restaurant staff is very telling about the person you are. Forgetting to utter “please” and “thank you” is enough to make me squeamish. Those words weren’t remotely in his vocabulary. He treated the kitchen like his personal chef, the hostess like a tour guide, the wait staff like hired help and I’m pretty sure he thought the bussers were invisible. Looking back, this should have been a deal breaker, but his eyes were so blue and I was weak.
  6. Can he please get off his phone and talk to me? Unless you’re a physician on call (which he wasn’t), you do not need your phone on the table between us. Not only was he texting his buddies but he actually had Facebook open at one point. He did look up to check out the waitress at one point, so there’s that. He had more eye contact with his phone than me and that’s a problem.
  7. No one likes a controlling date. When a man orders for his wife of 20 years, it’s super cute. When a guy orders the cheapest items on the menu for his date without asking for her opinion, it’s controlling and gross. To make matters worse, he would demand changes to the food preparation as if he had the culinary chops of Gordon Ramsay. As you may have guessed, the controlling behavior didn’t stay at the table. He managed the placement of the toilet paper on its holder and designated the days I could go out with my BFFs. It was basically relationship prison and three months felt like a life sentence.
  8. Rambling on about yourself is a major turn-off. Unless I missed something, we aren’t here on a job interview, so I’m not interested in hearing all of your accomplishments. He didn’t ask me a single question throughout the entirety of our date, so anything I mentioned about myself had to be squeezed into the conversation. As our relationship progressed, I started to notice that nothing changed. He didn’t ask about my day at work or how I was doing. The occasional “what’s up?” text was as close as he got to inquiring.
  9. The final test will always be the tip amount. Servers have to put up with a tremendous amount of nonsense just to pay the bills. From verbally abusive egomaniacs to the occasional dirty old man, they deserve to leave with a decent amount of cash. My ex had a very well-paying job, so a 15% tip was downright unacceptable. Not only did it prove that he was cheap but that his ego came at the expense of others. Never again will I ignore red flags on a dinner date.
Caitlyn is a freelance writer living in Washington D.C.