The other night, my friend Alex and I went to dinner. We went to a cramped ramen place and were seated at a small table next to two 20-somethings very obviously on a first date. We were so close to them; it was as if we were at a four-person table. And while Alex and I had no interest in eavesdropping on their conversation, the man's loud, pompous, sneering voice was impossible to tune out.
He interrupted his date constantly, talked about himself, and he seemed to have forgotten all semblances of basic dinner-table etiquette. Their whole date experience was so toxic that it ruined our dinner.
Across from me, I could see the woman listening to the man. She was dressed like someone ready to go on a date and have fun, but her face told a totally different story: She wished she was not on a date, and she was not having fun. One might describe her face as “upsettlingly patient.”
Honestly, I don't know why the woman, or me, or Alex did not stand up, throw a bowl of ramen on the guy and storm out of the restaurant. The man was just so rude. And talking about it afterward, Alex and I were doubly upset that this was in no way an isolated incident. This behavior is a theme.
Guys... what is wrong with you!? Did your parents teach you manners? Do you know how lucky you are to be going out on a date in the first place? If so, why are you behaving this way?
So I'm going to start at square one because half the guys out there don't know how to eat dinner with a woman without it being a total depressing disaster. Here are seven simple (holy sh*t, simple) rules to a dinner date. If a woman (god bless her soul) agrees to go out to dinner with you, please follow these rules.
1. Chew with your mouth closed!
I can't believe I have to write this, but I do. Besides, I feel like we need to start small.
When two people are on a date, they usually look at each other. So how about not smacking your lips together like a cow? That way, when she looks at you, she doesn't think “Wow, he's absolutely disgusting.”
And while we're at it: Don't put your elbows on the table, put your napkin on your lap and use utensils -- the “fork” and the “knife.”
2. Let her talk, assh*le!
Guys. Please. For the love of all things holy. Let women finish their f*cking sentences.
This is what made Alex and I (and I assume the woman) the most upset at the ramen guy. He would not let one thing come out of his date's mouth that he didn't immediately trample over with aggressive, whiny comments. No matter the topic, he had to immediately insert his sh*tty two cents.
He explained things to her, critiqued all of her opinions and showed off his obnoxious points of view like a peacock whose feathers just got a subscription to The Economist. I swear to god, the ramen guy even lectured the woman on why people shouldn't get so bent out of shape that the Oscars are #SoWhite.
And maybe this seems like an extreme example, but really, listen to yourself when you talk. And if you catch yourself doing this, please make a change.
3. Politely (holy god in heaven, politely) tell her she looks great!
I'm going to put this one very delicately and very specifically:
Unless you've tricked her into going out with you, you both know this is a date. You're here based on some sort of mutual attraction. And you both probably tried to look good, and you both probably stood in front of a mirror for an extensive period of time. You are both trying to put a good foot forward. So...
When you see her, float her a respectful “you look wonderful/ beautiful/great.” Because I'm sure she does. And because it's fun and flirty, and you're on a date, so there's no reason to not be charming.
THEN THAT'S IT! No need to mention it again and again, you weirdo. Move on to talk about her job, and her dog, and favorite movie. Don't be weird.
4. Put your phone away! Are you insane?!
Are you talking about your dog and want to show off a picture of said dog? Then, forgive me, ignore this rule.
But if not….are you crazy?! A woman (a woman) decided to spend time with you (you). She could be out to dinner with her actual friends, or home working on her novel, or out with someone else. But she's out to dinner with you (you, the guy who has a subscription to The Economist).
So when you are sitting there speaking with and looking at a woman (again, a woman. Can you even imagine?) and break eye contact to check your iPhone, do you know how wildly disrespectful that is? What could you possibly be checking on your phone? And heaven help you if you say “the score of the game.” If you thought in your head, “the score of the game,” you are a lost cause.
Ladies, far be it for me to tell you what to do, but a man checking his phone while you're talking is the perfect cue to throw that ramen.
5. Ask about her!
What is a date other than an opportunity to know someone better?
So why don't you fulfill the contract of “the date” and get to a know another human being? Who knows! Maybe you'll learn that another person's experiences and opinions can inform your own. Maybe you'll learn that wow, this woman is really cool, and you like spending time with her. But you'll never get to that conclusion if you don't try to learn more about her first.
Of course you're going to talk about yourself, and when you do, be proud of who you are. Talk positively and graciously. But don't ramble on. Don't embellish. Don't lie. And when you're finished, get back to asking about her. You already know about you.
6. Offer to pay. Don't insist on paying.
This one requires delicacy, kindness and the ability to talk through a point of contention. Don't explode.
First, when you ask her out on a dinner date, say “Can I take you out to dinner?” That way, it's been established, you would like to take her out to dinner.
Then, later, when the check comes, here's how this should go:
You reach for the check.
Your Date: Do you want to split that?
You: No, that's really nice, but I wanted to take you out!
Maybe it ends there, and if so, great job being nice and fun! But maybe she continues:
Your Date: Are you sure? I would really like to at least split the check.
Here comes the tricky part. Stick the landing.
You: Are you sure?
Wait for it…wait for it…
Your Date: Yeah, I'm sure.
Now here comes the most important part. Muster up all the control you have and carefully now...carefullyyyyy nowwww…
You: OK, thanks!
Congratulations, you did it. You're not a total assh*le. Ask her to do something like this again soon.
7. When you leave the restaurant, hold the door for her.
Who raised you? Hold the door, guys. Come on.