Love Stories

First dates make lasting impressions

Coffee is cheap, drinks are an audition, lunch is an interview but dinner means business. Daniel Warner investigates the who, what, where and when of first dates and explains when it comes to rules, there are no rules when making an initial impression.

Apparently there is a simple way to tell if someone is really ‘into’ you, and it depends on how much money and how much commitment they are willing to put in on that all important first date. 

It’s been said that coffee is cheap, drinks are an audition, lunch is an interview but dinner means business. Now I don’t know if this applies if you’ve met online, in a supermarket, in a bar or even in a sex club. Although I would think that if you had met someone in a sex club, then it’s a little too late to be exchanging niceties and polite conversation over a Frappuccino and a chocolate brownie.

So what is the correct way to behave on a first date? It’s been said that if someone isn’t interested in you at your worst, then why should you let them see you at your best? A first date is the perfect time to just be yourself, and the rules are, there are no rules. 

My method of thinking is that if you don’t give the right impression on a first date then you may as well make sure it’s a memorable one. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you get slightly drunk, say totally inappropriate things and then break down crying. Although I wouldn’t advise the crying bit, maybe save that if you need to make a quick escape. If you’ve only met for a coffee, then crying over a hazelnut latte with extra foam and milk all over your face is never a good look.

What if someone’s asked you out for lunch? I wouldn’t completely write off the chances of romance at lunch, it just depends on what day of the week it is. If your suitor is a millionaire or unemployed then you’ll probably be in with a good chance of having an extra long weekday lunch date, but if they are in a regular 9-5, then you’re only going to have time to get soup and half a sandwich. No one takes a lunch hour anymore so it’s not the right time for wine, romance and roses. Lunch for most of us is spent at our desks, with no time for playing footsie in a five star restaurant whilst falling in love and sipping champagne cocktails. If lunch is on your first date menu, make sure it’s of a weekend. 

Meeting in a bar can sometimes be the easy option and although I’m not advising you to knock back shots of Tequila before your date arrives, there’s nothing wrong in having a little of whatever to help calm your nerves. It is far better to be relaxed and half dressed rather than nervous and buttoned up. Why would anyone want to go on a first date with a ‘stuffed shirt’ when they could be hanging out with someone in a pair of loose pants? Going for drinks on a first date is the perfect opportunity to find out if the person you’re spending the next few hours, night or the rest of your life with is a raging alcoholic, notoriously tightfisted, a lightweight or a (beer) barrel full of fun and laughter. 

So now we’ve arrived at the daddy of all romantic first dates – the dinner date. This apparently is the one that means business, the one that changes the love game, the one that shifts the goal posts and puts its balls on the table – although if you do turn up at dinner and your date is sitting there with his balls on the table, I’d quickly look for the nearest exit and get an Uber home. Dinner as a first date is a serious business, and there is nothing more telling about a person’s behaviour than watching them eat. A fussy eater in a restaurant is never going to come up with the goods sexually. If he can’t get his mouth around some meat balls and spaghetti then the chances are he’s not going to feel comfortable if you’re sat there chowing down on a 12inch pepperoni with extra chilli. 

I find it attractive when a man eats with his hands (unless it’s soup or a Thai Green Curry) as there’s something quite caveman about it, but I’d never date anyone who tucks their napkin into their shirt like it’s a bib. It makes me want to rub their back and burp them after they’ve finished masticating. 

If you do choose dinner for your first date never entertain anyone who is rude to a waiter or waitress. Not only does it show a complete lack of class, it also means that whatever food is being put down in front of you has had something unspeakable done to it in the journey from the kitchen to your table. I’ve been on candlelight dates and sat listening intently, smiling in all the right places and low key flirting with someone in whom I have no interest at all. I’ve even paid for the dinner because at least then there’s no expectation for me to put out. You can usually bet that if there’s money changing hands at a dinner table, they are totally going to expect bodily fluids changing hands on your kitchen table later on that evening. 

When it comes to dating, I’ve come to the realisation that the reason some of us are single and some of us are unemployable is because we treat every date like a job interview and every job interview like a first date. 

Think about it, if you attend a job interview wearing something slutty and go on a first date looking extremely well groomed and professional then you’re certain to give the wrong impression both times. 

No one wants to employ someone who looks like they’ve just tumbled out of a sex party and no one on a first date wants to go home with someone who looks like they are going to give them a crash course in accountancy. Unless of course, you have a fetish for men in suits. 

When it comes to first dates you really need to keep your options open. Coffee, lunch, drinks or dinner can lead to romance or a maybe just a one night stand. First dates can either be love stories or horror stories but at least if it all goes wrong, you’ll have a tale to dine out on for the rest of your life. 

I asked some of you for your first date horror and love stories, and here’s what you told me. 

Ben, 26

“I had a first date with a guy who said he’d brought me a present. The present was a jock strap. I’d never worn one before and was slightly bemused that he had brought it with him. We found a nice little pub on the Thames to eat dinner and I decided as a further icebreaker I’d go to the toilet and swap my boxers for this charming gift he’d bought me and send him a pic! I’m happy to say that wearing the jockstrap paid for my dinner.”

Jay, 32

I had a date with a guy once that I met on a plane and we arranged to meet the following week. He picked me up for the date on the way back from his ex’s funeral. I couldn’t wait to get out of his car and go home and I never saw him again. I didn’t want to go out with anyone who could move on so quickly.

Chris, 24

I had one first date with a guy who proceeded to tell me that he was one of the Spice Girls’ stylists. I never did find out whether he was winding me up or not, despite persistent questioning he never buckled under pressure. If he WAS actually the Spice Girls stylist, I’d have probably lied and swapped it to Little Mix anyway.

Andrew, 38

I met my husband on a blind first date in the pub where I was working in 2007. He came in and I still had five hours of my shift to go, so he had to watch me all evening. We are now married and have never been as happy as we are now.

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