Do - Actually ask us out on a date.
Don't - Ask us to hang out.
My good friend Jen circulated this article last week which covers this point beautifully. If we are friends, then yes let's hang out. If you like me more than friends, then ask me out on a date already!
Do - Be chivalrous.
Don't - Be too cool to open the door.
While most modern woman are very independent, we still appreciate when a guy opens the door for us, walks on the appropriate side of the street, let's us order first, etc. Even in the situation where a woman prefers a guy not to do these things, she will never scold him for doing so (and if she does then she has other issues and it's time to cut your losses). It's all about showing respect and we notice.
Do - Be on time.
Don't - Go ahead and order if you arrive first.
I live in LA and traffic sucks. If my date is scheduled to begin at 8pm and I arrive by 8.05 it's basically like being on time. I would give him the same benefit of the doubt. If you'll be any later, you need to call or text. In the meantime, if you do arrive early and/or before your date it's rude to go ahead and order. Now I know I said I wasn't going to get into the stories but this is begging for an example. I was meeting a guy for coffee and as I pulled in the parking lot I saw him walking up to the door. He was probably waiting for me all of 30 seconds until I parked and walked in the shop. In the meantime he had already gotten in line to order his beverage. This isn't the only time this has happened and it's just awkward. If your date is going to be extremely late and/or she says to go ahead and get something it is acceptable, otherwise it's not.
Do - Offer to pay.
Don't - Act weird when the bill comes.
I'm sure some of my male readers are balking at this one. Some may even say "Whomever does the asking should pay." You are wrong. It is again a sign of respect to pay for the first date. After that, you can take turns or whatever. On a tight budget? Then you should suggest a place to meet up - that is in your budget. Coffee dates are very easy on the budget - at most you might be out $10 for both of your beverages. Remember the date I mentioned above? That guy didn't even offer to buy a coffee drink for me. If a guy won't buy you a coffee, what does that say about how he will value and treat you in general? Another quick example, I was on a date with a guy that insisted on ordering a bottle of wine to enjoy with our meal. He reviewed the wine list and picked out the bottle (an expensive bottle of course). When the bill came he acted very jumpy. It was very uncomfortable and he all but signed the check under my nose so I could see how much he spent. If you are intent on splitting the check at any point in the dating process, it's inappropriate to choose an overly expensive item without the other person's knowledge (ladies this goes for you too).
Do - Ask questions to get to know your date and determine if there is chemistry.
Don't - Grill your date like you are auditioning for some cop show.
Dates are stressful for a lot of people for many reasons. Some people are very focused on their mental checklist and need to see if their date meets all of their criteria. A date should be a conversation not an interview. I once felt like I was on a job interview to be Mr. X's wife. I could tell you after about 10 minutes I knew it was not the job for me. Probably one of the longest hours of my life. If you're nervous, try to find common interests that are easy to talk about. That will at least get the conversation flowing. Current events, movies, old school Saturday morning cartoons are all easy topics to discuss. I also like to use a technique I stole from another friend - bring lottery scratchers on your date. It is really a great icebreaker and someone might win a little money!
Do - Be honest with your opinions.
Don't - Antagonize your date when your opinions differ.
Even the most solid couples don't agree on everything and you and your date are probably no exception. When finding a challenging area, be sure to ask enough questions to understand their position on the topic if it is a deal breaker for you. If it is not a deal breaker, it is better to steer the conversation in another direction. Nothing can ruin a date faster than having a heated argument. You would think this is a no brainer but unfortunately that is far from the truth.
Do - Be over your ex before you go out.
Don't - Focus too much on either person's past dating life.
Keep in mind this is the first date in the real world not on a tv show like The Bachelor. You don't have only 5 minutes to decide if you want to marry this person. Everyone has a past and the key is that you are ready for a relationship not what your track record looks like. It seem like a standard first date question goes something like this "When was your last long term relationship?" I propose that we throw that question out of the first date repertoire. Spend more time getting to know who the person is in the present and where they are going in life rather than their past.
Do - Have a good time on your date and have a cocktail or two.
Don't - Have such a good time that you can't drive home.
Nothing is more awkward and disrespectful on a first date (or really any date until you are more serious - however you wish to define that) than a guy trying to guilt you into letting him stay at your place because he's "too drunk to drive home". I know for a fact (courtesy of a male friend who will remain nameless to protect his guilt) that this is a ploy some guys use in hopes of getting a little somethin somethin. If you got drunk so you could try to make a move (or even if you are just pretending), you are a dirtbag. If you got drunk on accident, learn to hold your liquor or drink less.
Unfortunately I don't have good advice for those guys that are just straight up socially awkward. Best you can do is put yourself in other social situations (other than dating) until you learn to loosen up and carry on conversations like the rest of us.
To my lovely female readers - Did I miss any key advice you think the men of the world need to be more successful daters? Please post it below!
To the fabulous gay men and women that read this blog - Would love to hear your thoughts on how this applies to same sex couples!