10 Rules for a Dinner Date

Got a dinner date planned for this weekend? These 10 rules should help. Remember, you should be an animal in the bedroom, not the dining room.

1. Never sit next to each other on one side of a table unless you’re being filmed for a reality TV show. Be adults and sit facing each other. The romance of staring into each other’s eyes over a candle-lit table should be enough.

2. Guys, don’t order for the woman. She’s an adult: She can make up her own mind and she can speak for herself.

3. Don’t order “just a salad.” This tells your date you’d rather count calories than embrace the date and all its pleasures, including the gastronomic ones. On the other hand, don’t order the lobster, unless it’s been clearly established that you’re paying.

4. No cellphones at the table, please, even if you’re dining at Denny’s. (Good manners don’t discriminate against even the tackiest of eating establishments.) If you absolutely, positively must take a call, keep your phone on vibrate, but for heaven’s sake don’t whip it out. Wait for an appropriate pause in the conversation to excuse yourself from the table to retrieve or make that call. However: It better be an emergency.

5. If you have to use the powder room, just say, “Excuse me please.” Or “Will you excuse me for just a moment?” Your date doesn’t need to be told that you’re off to evacuate your bowels.

6. Don’t start eating until your date has also been served. Don’t even touch your silverware until their dish has made contact with the table linen. Even if your date insists that you go ahead.

7. Discussing the etymology of “The Dirty Sanchez” is unacceptable dinner conversation — save that for the bar.

8. Don’t gesture with your silverware.

9. Do not ask to sample your date’s plate unless they offer first. Some people are funny about that. On the other hand, if your date is clearly suffering from entrée envy, consider offering a trade. Not required, of course, but you have no idea how many points this will score you later.

10. Be courteous to the waitstaff. Never snap, clap, cry “Waiter,” or worse “Garcon!” to get your attendant’s attention; wait until you catch your server’s eye, then simply nod, smile, or subtly raise your hand. If you’re rude to the service industry professionals, it tells your date that you have the potential to be rude and obnoxious to anyone. And finally, if you’re picking up the bill, then tip 20% unless you want to look like a cheap bastard.

What about if you’re “dining downtown”?
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  1. Lovin’ Ms. D’s response – you tell ’em! Good manners (which include ordering selections) should be standard across the board – regardless of income or transportation.

    Of course, if you have the “well, he can afford it” mentality, clearly your good manners are non existent and possibly never instilled to begin with to which I would urge you to dine on .90 ramen noodles WITH your mother until she has the good sense to teach you basic human decency.

  2. All of these tips are great advice, but then again, if you needed to read this to know, maybe it’s better for others if they found out about your shortcomings on the first date.
    Ralphie, I totally agree. If I want a pricey dinner, I’ll make room for it in my budget. Madamoiselle L doesn’t need a date, she needs a job.
    Just as a side note, the wealthiest men I know all take public transportation and dress one step up from ratty college guys. They are all in either tech or finance. Any of them could easily buy a boat for the sole purpose of getting you a lobster if you asked them nicely, but then again, you likely wouldn’t speak to them as their shoes aren’t up to your standards.

  3. As a lawyer who provides legal services to the indigent, I can assure you that I will not be interested in dating Mademoiselle L. It seems presumptuous to assume a large amount of discretionary income based on a job title, and the desire to take advantage of someone else’s income without knowing much else about the person. Our IT guy, who’s rejected numerous offers in the private sector to continue the work he does for our office, would agree.

  4. I’m lactose and gluten intolerant, as well as a vegetarian, for health reasons. I always have to order side dishes and salads…no choice! I’ve had guys comment on this before, and it really kind of sucks. Not to mention, discussing my allergies just makes me seem high maintenance. Bleeeeh.

  5. I agree with all of these except “Don’t order the lobster.” It isn’t difficult to ascertain a man’s basic income, based on his dress, his car and his clothing. If he picks you up in a 94 minivan, with Bondo or rust on it, and wears shoes with holes, NO, don’t order the lobster. If he is a lawyer, a doctor, a high level engineer, an IT specialist and picks you up in a Lexus, Damn, order that Sea Bug.

    (Unless you are allergic to them, like I am. Then order the “King’s Cut” Fillet Mignon.)

    Or you can ask. Point to the dish in question and ask, “Is this OK?” Nothing wrong with being direct.

    And, NO you don’t “owe” him sex for the lobster, unless you either want to, or you are working as an escort.

  6. I think this is a very valid set of rules, ESPECIALLY #4 because I have a current boyfriend who is glued to his phone whenever we are at dinner, whether it be just the two of us, or with family, or even friends. His response is always, “I’m reading the news!” As if it can’t be done at some other time. Hmmf!

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