The lines keep getting a bit blurrier between what constitutes a first date and not. Go back a few generations and you’d have a lot more people knowing little to nothing about each other, buzzing with excitement and bubbling with anxiety while they slowly get to know their date.
Well, the pressure for a perfect first date still exists, but advancements in dating culture are totally shaking up the experience, with some couples even getting to intimately know each other without having ever met in person.
It’s unsurprising to me that women are a bit baffled about what expectations they’re being held to in the current dating scene! So I got curious and asked my guy friends to give me their ideal vision for a first date to clear up any confusion. Here’s what they said.
Men Really Don’t Prefer Virtual Dating
As the years go on, it feels like there’s a dating app for every type of person at any stage in their life. I’m an outlier in the dating app equation, but I’m hard pressed to find anyone my age who also hasn’t tried online dating. Despite online dating being a cultural standard, all of the men I chatted with preferred meeting a girl in-person through mutual friends or through their work, church, or a shared hobby.
“Dating apps are horrible,” admitted one of the guys. When they do peruse apps or social media to find a date, the most important thing men look for in a woman is if she has similarities in interests, hobbies, humor, beliefs, and values. But don’t let that dissuade you from any preconceived notions that the photos you post of your appearance matter to an eligible beau! The second most popular aspect that men looked for in potential girlfriends was her attractiveness.
A couple of men emphasized how much they dislike amateur modeling pictures that make a girl seem vain.
Despite looks being super important, a couple of men emphasized how much they prefer “humble” photos and dislike amateur modeling pictures that make a girl seem vain. A couple other profile red flags that the guys expressed were if the girl is holding alcohol or drugs in her photos, if her photos purposefully frame out certain parts of her body or face, or if she’s posing the exact same way in all of her photos.
Another major turnoff that one guy shared was if a girl mentions any of her baggage in her bio. Whether they think they’re being their most honest selves or if they genuinely think their flaws are quirky, some girls tend to overshare intimate details about themselves online.
Alright, so the initial introduction has been made, whether it’s online or in-person. What do guys actually want to do with a woman on the first date?
Men Overall Are Cool with Tradition
Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that the preference for a “dinner and a movie” date was just a product of the film and television industry, but it turns out that many of the men I chatted with about their dating preferences really liked the classics.
One guy even gave some quick logic for why dinner and a movie works so well, explaining that it’s “not as awkward as trying to start up conversation as other options since you’re watching the movie most of the time, and it gives you something to talk about the rest of the date at dinner.”
For the bachelors who prefer to already know a girl from mutual friends or through other shared, in-person relations, they admitted to a riskier, but more creative route.
Some suggested drinks in a casual atmosphere as the ideal first date.
“I probably know enough about her to be able to come up with some really cool experience that she'd enjoy quite a bit, so it varies since I'm a variety sort of person. I like 'curating' rather than just going with a standard first date. Maybe she, for example, doesn't like coffee because it's too acidic or makes her too jittery, but prefers tea and video games. I can come up with something that involves both easily.”
A couple of the men suggested drinks as the ideal first date, though there was more of a preference toward casual atmospheres instead of an upscale, expensive cocktail bar which could be reserved for a time when he knows her better. One guy gave a strong warning for moderation, however, stating that a woman should “never get drunk or drink to excess on a first date.” Needless to say, the same warning goes for the men.
Men Don’t Want You To Overdress
I can’t tell you how many outfit changes I go through just to go on a date with my own husband. In this scenario, add on the extra stress of not knowing the guy, and it’s no wonder that gals in the dating game are easily overwhelmed by trying to dress to impress.
Perhaps no stress is even needed, since so many of the guys expressed loving a toned-down look on the first date. The overwhelming reason was that men want to have a good idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis if you two go steady. So unless your daily look is full glam, you might not need to worry about trying to doll up too much.
Men want to have a good idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis if you two go steady.
“I want to know you, not the you that is trying to impress me. If she hits that midpoint between expressing herself and not overcompensating, that's a green light,” one guy told me.
That being said, many of the guys expressed how they still want a woman to look put together.
Other green flags were things like sundresses or tops that expose a tasteful amount of shoulders and neckline, jeans that accentuate a woman’s natural curves well, and never overdoing it with jewelry like oversized hoops.
The guys expressed their love for when a woman takes a subtle approach to the first date so much that even extra makeup and perfume were actually turn-offs for a few guys.
One of the guys divulged that among the biggest things he aims for when dating is “making decisions without lust or infatuation poisoning the decision-making,” which is a testament to why effortless, timeless beauty seems to reign supreme instead of seductive, sultry looks that could lead a man to lust over you before loving you.
Men Aren’t Afraid To Voice Their Serious Red Flags
You’re on the date and first impressions have been made, so what should you potentially want to watch out for when it comes to your personal conduct? For one, your restaurant etiquette is pretty important to men!
“I watch very closely to see how she treats food service workers,” shared one guy. Nothing reveals how graceful and patient a woman is deep-down quite like her response to slow service, bad service, or even just to unassuming food service workers.
A couple of guys also expressed their frustrations when women order the most expensive item on the menu. Though roughly one-third of the guys felt that they don’t necessarily have to pay for the first date and that splitting the tab is entirely appropriate, ordering the most expensive item on the menu could signal to a guy that you’re looking for a free meal.
Other unpopular conduct that the guys considered red flags on first dates was when the girl obsessively brings up baggage, gossips too much, can’t hold a serious conversation, and drinks to excess.
Getting too serious too fast was also a major first date red flag, whether that’s the girl asking “Are we in a relationship?” right after the first date, or if “she asks what your ideas for marriage and a family would be.”
However, even if you’re not family planning on the first date, you might want to be transparent about your personal values. Overwhelmingly, men noted that not sharing values or life goals would be an indication that they’re not a great match.
Okay, so your own personal conduct is one thing, but what about how you physically engage with the guy on the first date? Two-thirds of the men I chatted with said they were cool with kissing, cuddling, and other PDA on the first date, but once it moved past PDA, things got a bit more complicated.
A few men were adamantly opposed to sex on the first date, while others saw no issue with it.
“It depends on what you’re looking for when dating. People date for lots of different reasons,” explained one of the guys. For the guys who were okay with sex on the first date, some of the reasoning was that if both people are prepared to think about the long-term right away then they could commit to building a deep bond on the first date.
One guy gave a bit of a grave warning, however: “The sooner that sex is initiated, the faster it’s likely to end.”
What To Do after the First Date
So you’ve made it through the first date, whatever form that might take, and now you may be wondering what comes next. Well, guys have a lot to say about what they expect from a woman after the first date. First things first, if things go well then they expect consistency.
“You'd be surprised how many women do strange things like pull back, expecting me to stumble forward and chase her, give me the silent treatment, or start expressing doubts. Or even outright try to start some kind of argument with me. Then they get mad at me because I'm no longer interested,” one guy said.
Showing interest in a subsequent date goes a long way if you enjoyed yourself. A few of the men shared similar sentiments that they’d at least like to be in touch whether or not there’s a follow-up date. Ghosting a guy isn’t a great way to show him any courtesy if he took you out.
Showing interest in a subsequent date goes a long way if you enjoyed yourself.
After the first date, guys want to get to know you deeper beyond “small talk stuff and just extremely basic information” and they overall don’t appreciate it when a woman plays hard to get.
“Crazy concept, but if I see a red light, I'm not going to floor it across the intersection thinking ‘maybe the signal is just playing coy.’ Running red lights on purpose can result in criminal charges. Nope. I'm either going to remain stopped or (after carefully looking both ways) happily take a right turn toward Platonic Friendship Lane,” one guy told me.
Though men tend to prefer leading, they love when a woman can be attentive and confident. An interesting post-first date preference that one man shared was how much it meant to him for the woman to take a turn creating an experience for him that she thinks he would enjoy on the second date: “I want to see what she learned about me being put to some kind of creative use for the next date. I love to see my efforts being reciprocated and subtle things about me being recognized, that's the easiest way for her to make sure I'm always thinking about her.”
If your love language is quality time, perhaps you take note of his favorite outdoor activity you can do together. If your love language is giving gifts, perhaps you get crafty and make him something bespoke to show you care. The options are endless!
Despite app-dating being a staple, it turns out that men still hold a lot of traditional beliefs about dating. Men really want you to be true to yourself and let your guard down a little bit. No first date is going to check off all the boxes, but if you can show a man just how genuine of a companion you can be, you’ll hopefully find yourself gearing up for the second date, third date, and many more to follow!
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