First dates can be fraught with anticipation. Could this guy be the one? Everyone hopes to feel that emotional “spark” on a first date. But, while an initial emotional reaction is worth noticing, there are some less starry-eyed things to watch out for.
Plenty of guys can give us all the feels but turn out not to be particularly good boyfriends — or even actively bad ones. So, to save yourself from heartache down the line, here are 10 things to look for on a first date, beyond your emotional connection.
Is he punctual?
First impressions are important. A guy who leaves you waiting well past the time your date was supposed to start is signaling that he’s got more important things to do than show up on time to see you. That’s not a good start. Of course, there are perfectly good reasons why he might be late — like traffic, or train trouble, or whatever — but he should let you know as soon as he can that that’s what’s going on. A call or text (and an apology) to say he’s running late lets you know that this date is important to him, and he’s doing the best he can to be there.
Does he hold the door open for you?
Little gestures — like holding open the door, pulling out your chair, letting you go first into the restaurant, etc. — let you know that he is aware of his masculinity and what it means. You are, of course, capable of doing all that stuff yourself (as modern feminists are always quick to point out), but a man who does them for you is signaling that he’s prepared to take care of you and that he’s not going to use his superior strength to harm you.
You are, of course, capable of doing all that stuff yourself but a man who does them for you is signaling that he’s prepared to take care of you and that he’s not going to use his superior strength to harm you.
Is he polite to the waiter?
A man who treats waiters and other retail workers with courtesy and respect is comfortable with himself and his place in the world. He doesn’t need to show you how powerful he is by belittling people he sees as “beneath him.” His positive demeanor toward the waitstaff shows you that he sees the people around him — including people in a service role — as worthwhile and valuable and doesn’t feel entitled or superior. It’s also a good indication that he will be polite and respectful to you since that’s his general demeanor with others.
Does he ask you about yourself (and then listen to your answers)?
Small talk is hard and often awkward, but it must be endured — at least initially. If he spends the entire date talking about himself, that’s a pretty good sign that he’s not second date material. On a first date, you’re both trying to figure out whether you’ll be good together as a longterm couple. If he doesn’t seem to need to know anything about you or what makes you tick in order to make that decision, then he’s probably not going to make a great boyfriend. If he does ask you about yourself, pay attention to whether he’s really listening to you and asking pertinent followup questions. If you start telling him about your extensive classic movie collection and he nods distractedly and tells you that reminds him of the time he went to Morocco (or whatever), that doesn’t count as ask asking about you.
If he does ask you about yourself, pay attention to whether he’s really listening to you and asking pertinent followup questions.
Does he keep his phone in his pocket?
These days, everyone’s got a smartphone, and most of us are on it more than we probably should be. But a date should be no phone zone. (That goes for you too.) Checking his phone constantly is a signal that he doesn’t view you — or this date — as a priority. Is Twitter (or Instagram, or the news, or his email) really more important than what’s going on between the two of you right now? If so, he’s probably not the man for you.
Does he avoid talking about his exes?
A guy who brings up his ex (or exes) on the first date probably isn’t over them. Even bringing them up to compare you favorably to them isn’t a good look. Past relationships are things the two of you will end up discussing if this relationship blossoms, but a first date is not the time to do that. A man who can’t stop talking about his ex is still deeply emotionally connected to her (even if it’s a negative connection) and you don’t need that baggage. You’re hoping this man will be someone you can start a life with, but if he’s hung up on an ex he’s probably not ready for a new beginning.
A man who can’t stop talking about his ex is still deeply emotionally connected to her (even if it’s a negative connection) and you don’t need that baggage.
Does he keep his hands to himself?
It’s not that he can’t touch you at all. A handshake — if this is the first time you’re meeting — or a hand on your shoulder to help you on with your coat, or to steer you toward your table, for example, are fine. But a guy who can’t keep his hands off you on a first date is probably looking for sex, not love. Plus, how many other first dates has he gone on where he’s been this touchy-feely? Let’s not even go there. The first date is for getting to know each other, not getting into each other’s pants.
Does he offer to pay?
A man who offers to pay the tab is signaling that he’s prepared to take care of you. It’s not an assessment of your personal finances, or a misogynistic attempt to control or belittle you. It’s his way of showing you that he takes his role of provider and protector seriously. Just like opening the door for you, offering to pay — and following through on that offer — is a way he can show you that he’s going to care for you.
It’s his way of showing you that he takes his role of provider and protector seriously.
Does he offer to walk you home (or put you in a cab)?
Even if you don’t need or want him to walk you home, he should offer. If he says goodnight and then hurries off, leaving you standing alone on a dimly lit and empty street, he’s probably not the man for you. Regardless of modern feminism’s claims to the contrary, women are physically more vulnerable than men. You want your potential boyfriend to be aware of this, and have your safety in mind.
Does he call or text the next day to tell you he had a nice time?
A man who follows dating “rules” — like waiting three days to call someone — is manipulative or insecure (or both). Just like you should send a thank you note after you receive a gift, a man who took you out the night before should check on you in the morning and let you know he had a nice time. (And you should respond promptly. This “no games” thing goes both ways.) You want to know that he’s still thinking about you. That will tell you that he’s interested in getting to know you better and that he’s respectful of your feelings and your time.
Just like you should send a thank you note after you receive a gift, a man who took you out the night before should check on you in the morning and let you know he had a nice time.
It’s important to feel an emotional connection on a first date, but it’s equally important to make sure the guy you’re attracted to is actually someone who’s ready for a long-term commitment. Even the most swoon-worthy guy can turn out to be bad news. So do yourself a favor and use these helpful — non-starry-eyed — tips to make sure a second date is a good idea. Think of them as a little advice from that one friend who’s always right — whether you want her to be or not.