Eating is instinctual. And like a lot of instinctual things (ahem… the bedroom) men often go on autopilot when there’s food in front of them. Now that’s all fine and good when you’re standing over the sink eating cereal by the handful and straight from the box, but if you’re out with a woman who got all dressed up for this… it’s time to change gears. The meal you’re about to share isn’t a necessary chore for survival. It should be an event. And your attention to a few key details will help make it one.
Mastering the art of the dinner date isn’t hard, and it’s not all about proper etiquette like which fork is for what (start at the outside, work your way in), or when you put your napkin on your lap (just do it when you sit down), although that certainly helps. Remember these simple rules before you head out to that fancy restaurant and she might even be excited to share a dessert with you.
1. She goes first. With everything.
And that goes from the moment you pick her up. She’s the first to get in the car because you’re holding the door for her. Same goes for walking into the restaurant. She’s also the first to take her coat off because you’re assisting there too, and the first to sit down at the table. She looks at the wine list first, and orders first (unless you’re sharing a number of agreed upon dishes- then it becomes your job to order for the both of you). She also gets to pick the first piece of bread or whatever appetizer shows up before the entrée. As men, we’re selfish. We’re used to fighting for that slice of pizza or the last beer amongst our equally selfish man friends. Show her that she is your priority. Not the wine, not your steak, not the crème brulee. She is.
2. Pace yourself.
In general, men eat at a faster clip than women. They’re on a stroll. We’re at a solid trot. Slow down. There’s no deadline for you to finish your meal. Plus, if all you’re doing is shoving food in your mouth, how are you going to be able to carry on a conversation? Which leads us to…
3. Listen to her.
A great way to slow your eating down is by listening to what your date has to say. She’s probably pretty interesting (or better yet, very interesting). Of course you don’t want to over do-it and make her feel like she’s delivering a lecture to a hall full of grad students, but pay attention to her, not the other guests in the restaurant, your oddball waiter, or any of the other distractions flying around the room.
4. Look the part. Wear a sports jacket or blazer.
As long as it’s not a total dump, you should be wearing a jacket. And get it tailored. Why? Because when you sit you take a major hit to your shape. Women like guys with shoulders. And when you’re in a chair (or worse yet, some kind of booth), it’s easy to look like you’re collapsing in on yourself. A tailored, natural shoulder jacket will help you maintain that athletic V-shape. It doesn’t have to be wool, and it shouldn’t have rigid shoulder pads. Even Old Navy sells casual cotton blazers for around fifty bucks that when tailored will do the job. Plus, the inside jacket pocket gives you an easily accessible place for a card case or the other supplies in your gentleman’s arsenal. So at the end of the meal, you’ll get to effortlessly remove your chosen form of payment from your jacket instead of from under your rear.
4.5 And when it comes to the payment…
You’re paying. All of it.
5. Two drinks. Max.
Chances are you’ll be having a nice glass of wine. So enjoy it. If you want another? Go right ahead. But having a third drink over dinner almost guarantees that she won’t be up for another cocktail once the check comes. And even if she is, you won’t be at your best by then.
See? Easy stuff. And unlike the specials and the orders the wait staff have to commit to memory, these shouldn’t be too much to remember. Get all of these right and you might even land a second dinner date. Even if you spent half the meal with a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth.