Valentines day conjures up images (both literal and figurative, both thrilling and depressing) of bouquets of red roses, sales on hot pink lingerie, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, and oversized teddy bears. For some, it can bring on added pressure to find true love, or at least have a date for this special day. All too often this can lead to lowering expectations simply to fit in with the masses of those celebrating with their significant other. So in the spirit of the holiday, I’ve compiled a list of rules that should meet the bare minimum expectations of a first date.
1. Showing up on time
Confession time: I once went out on a date with a guy who showed up 40 MINUTES LATE! Looking back at it, I am screaming with dismay at my young and naive self. If a guy (or girl) shows up that late you should wave goodbye right then and there. Your time is valuable and you are valuable, so don’t lower your expectations or dignity by allowing this type of disrespect. Sure there may be some exceptions (if your date had an emergency that they couldn’t reasonably let you know about ahead of time), but in general this is an absolute necessity.
2. You’re not counting down the time
We’ve all been there… You’re looking at your watch and scarfing down your food anxiously awaiting for the clock to strike “take me home” o’clock. It’s the worst when your date drives you there and you rely on them to take you back home (which is why I recommend driving yourself to your date location if you do not know the person very well). You may have heard fairy tale stories where two people couldn’t stand each other at the beginning and then fell madly and eternally in love, but as a general rule of thumb, if you’re enjoying the thought of going home more than being in the moment of your date, then you should cross this person off your dating list.
3. Your date’s full attention is on you
If your date is on their phone, checking out someone else, or just doesn’t seem to be listening or paying attention to you, this is a serious red flag! People are on their best behavior on a first date. I’d seriously hate to imagine how downhill it would go from here if your date is already distracted. Not only is this rude and disrespectful, it also shows a lack of character and class. Next please!
4. Your date offers to pay
Whether you plan to go dutch, pay yourself, or have your date pay – your date should at least offer to pay. It shows character and respect for you and is a sign that they will continue to show such respect and care for you in the future. While you by no means have to accept their offer to pay (if this makes you uncomfortable or you are less traditional), the offer should at least be there.
5. Your date asks you questions about your life
If your date is only talking about their life, what they like, and other self-centered topics – this is also a red flag! By not asking you any questions about your life, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and other get-to-know you questions, it shows selfishness and lack of maturity. A first date should have a back-and-fourth and give-and-take in the conversation. After all you are both there to get to know each other! You’re not there to construct a memoir on your date’s life experiences.
6. Your date is respectful of your boundaries
Your date should not try too much up front. If you’re looking for a serious connection and your date is eager to pull down your pants when you first meet, then you’re on very different pages (unless they’re trying to “pants” you, which is a whole other subject). If this is the case, then they are only looking for one thing from you (cliche I know but this dad advice is seriously true). I recommend setting your boundaries ahead of time. Even if you think you’d be okay with a kiss on the first date, I recommend having a game plan in case you decide you don’t want to (they may be super cute but their personality turns out to be garbage… Don’t waste your lips on garbage). Dodging a kiss can be very awkward, but if you have a plan and strategy in place ahead of time it makes it a lot easier and you will thank yourself for it.
Ultimately you should set your own expectations for your first date. You likely have a whole bunch of friends, family, and even societal pressures weighing on you about what your date should look like, who should pay, what you should wear, and how you should act. I say forget all of that and think about what you truly want from this and what you feel comfortable with. If you want to pay for the date but your mom or friend tells you your date should pay – who cares, pay for the date! If you are navigating the dating world based on others’ expectations it will only lead to disappointment. Decide what YOU want and then don’t settle for less.
If you have any “date expectations” or awkward date stories, feel free to share in the comment section.