After a few days of getting to know each other via text, sharing your favorite memes, and maybe sending a couple flirty photos back and forth, you and your Tinder match have finally agreed to take things to the next level: the drinks date. The actual event is simple enough but you might have some concerns on your way there and even after you’ve arrived. Like, should you call your date when you get there? If you get there before them, should you get a table? What should you do if you’re running late?
Drinks-date etiquette is real, so listen up. The first thing you should know is that you can’t control everything and trying to time the encounter perfectly will only make you more anxious before your date. As best as possible, prepare for your date ahead of time. Figure out how long it will take you to get from home or the office to the bar, what time you should start heading over, and how you plan on getting there, because being late for a date sends the wrong message. You don’t want your date thinking that you don’t care about your plans or, worse, that you’ve stood them up.
Still, things happen — a road accident or subway malfunction might make you a few minutes late and that’s OK. Matchmaker Brooke Wise says, "You can definitely text your date if you are running late to tell them you’re in transit or on the way." A short but kind text message lets them know you respect their time and you’re still excited about the date.
If you’re running more than just a few minutes late, a quick voicemail might be more appropriate, Wise adds. A voicemail, in this circumstance, is more personal and suggests that you’re apologetic. Rather than call and have your date struggle to hear you over the hum of a crowded bar, a voicemail gives them the option of stepping away to listen on their own time or reading the transcript.
On the other hand, if you’ve made it to the bar and can’t find your date, don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Give it a few minutes before sending a brief, non-threatening text. Senior matchmaker and dating coach Lori Salkin says, "If you can’t find your date within a reasonable amount of time, it’s OK to write a polite text, like, 'Looking forward to seeing you.' If you want them to know you’ve arrived, try something like, 'Looking forward to seeing you. I’m outside the bar, take your time.'" While both of these messages are reasonable, you certainly don’t want to come across as impatient or annoyed. Salkin says, "Do not write, 'I am waiting outside, where are you.'" Avoid implying that you are "waiting" on your date, even if you are. This might not only frustrate them but also make them feel even worse than they already do for running late.
Of course, if your date is more than 15 minutes late and you haven't heard from them at all, being annoyed is understandable. At this point, you can send them a quick text letting them know you've arrived and casually asking if they're on the way. Even something as simple as, "Hey, I'm at the back of the bar when you get here," might prompt them to give you an estimated time of arrival. That way, you can decide if it's worth the wait or if you'd rather reschedule. While you don't want to be rude, you don't want to waste your time, either.
In each of these situations, texting is more preferable than calling and not just because memes have taught us to despise phone calls. According to Salkin, "A quick text is more appropriate than a phone call so as not to put pressure on the other person or come off sounding irritated at them for being late, at yourself, or even at your cab driver. Sometimes things happen and people are just late." It’s not the end of the world.
If you do get to the bar before your date does, it’s better to wait (a reasonable amount of time) on them to arrive before getting a table. Your date will feel more comfortable if you’re there to greet them at the door and walk in with them. It sends a vague but sweet message that you’re both in this together rather than making them nervously search for you in a sea of tables. Wise says you should avoid being seated before your date arrives unless absolutely necessary. "If you are, let them know over text that you've been seated. You can explain to your date in person that the host was prepared to give up the table if you didn’t sit. Then, move directly along to another topic," she advises.
Personally, I love the drinks date. I know, I know. It’s clichéd and overdone but it’s so wonderfully simple. Just keep these pre-date rules in mind and you’ll do just fine.
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