Restaurants are the go-to for so many social and professional occasions. Whether you're in for a professional meet-up, brunch with friends, or an overdue date night with your longtime partner, the convo-and-cuisine combo is, in general, the perfect fallback option.
But as a first date? No thanks, I'd rather shove bamboo under my fingernails while listening to Yoko Ono songs on repeat.
Just because it's been a courtship staple since forever doesn't mean it's a good idea, any more than ordering garlic bread and onion soup just before going in for the first kiss is a good idea. Not convinced? Let's break it down.
You've got spinach in your teeth
Let me be blunt here: no one looks attractive while they're eating. Not you, not your date, not even Hollywood celebrities. (Ever seen a tabloid photo of a famous person wolfing down a double-stacked hamburger? I rest my case.)
Sure, the way he slurps his spaghetti like a child or the way she always takes 20 minutes to order might become an endearing quirk later on. But when it comes to first impressions, gnawing on BBQ ribs is far from alluring. Salad isn't any safer. For whatever reason, restaurants love to serve giant-sized leaves of lettuce in their salads that are all but impossible to fit into a human-sized mouth without unhinging your jaw like a snake. You could try taking a knife to your edible jungle, but then you're likely to get that look that says, "Are you crazy? Why are you using a steak knife on your salad?"
By the way, if you do somehow find yourself at the local eatery during your first romantic rendezvous, bring a toothbrush. Murphy's law of dating says that if you can get a huge glob of food stuck in your front teeth while trying to woo your potential future SO, you will.
Two words: gastrointestinal distress
Even if you manage to choose a restaurant with an appealing menu and reasonable prices both of those are BIG ifs! you're still running a dangerous risk by trusting your stomach to do the right thing. Our gastrointestinal systems work in mysterious ways, and there's no telling if or when two seemingly innocuous foods might have an unexpected reaction that will lead to embarrassing results.
There are a million different factors working simultaneously to determine if and when your food will disagree with you. Even ordering an old favorite doesn't guarantee that it won’t send you racing to the bathroom halfway through your meal, or force you to make the impossible choice between whether to let one rip (and hope your date doesn’t hear) or bravely try to hold it in.
And if you did order that garlic bread and onion soup? Well, I just hope you carry an emergency supply of breath-freshening mints in your pocket at all times. Otherwise, you're screwed.
It's like a job interview, only worse
Even when I’m out with a familiar face, I prefer to sit next to the person, rather than across from them. It's cozier, more intimate, and less confrontational. Bonus: it puts you in prime position to snag a bite off their plate before they can fight back.
Sitting across from someone in a one-on-one setting is far too reminiscent of an interview, especially given all the questions you'll be asking each other. Unless, of course, you're stuck in perpetual awkward silence, which is far, far worse. In fact, a lot of dating advice columns have pointed out the similarities between a first date and a job interview: in both cases, you're dressing up and trying to put your best foot forward in the hopes of securing a callback.
Realizing the connection, of course, only makes it seem that much more nerve-wracking. At least at the end of a job interview, you get to go home knowing you’ll never have to see that person again unless they actually liked you. Rarely will you get so lucky in the world of romance.
Nerves, of course, are part and parcel of a first date. So why would you want to put yourself in a situation that'll just ramp up the anxiety even more?
Talk about being under pressure...
Let's say, for argument's sake, you actually like sitting across from people. Fine. But what about the comparison factor? First date dinners are such a cliché, it's nearly impossible to avoid thinking back to all the other times you took a guy or girl out to eat for the first time. Not to mention the quintillion dinner-date scenes Hollywood has managed to squeeze into every rom-com ever.
The thing is, the compare-and-contrast game is unwinnable. One of two things will inevitably happen: your brain will kindly dredge up the worst faux-pas you've ever committed and give you debilitating social anxiety, or you’ll think of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law chatting in a fancy French bistro and realize this date doesn't even come close. Inevitably, you'll find yourself subconsciously struggling to either avoid the mistakes of the past or to measure up to impossible standards. Neither of these, of course, will accomplish anything besides adding extra pressure to an already stressful event.
Break the mold and opt for a better, more casual alternative. Consider mini golf, or a trip to the museum, or attending a local festival literally anything more creative and enjoyable than the nightmare of the first date dinner. The future yin to your yang will thank you for it.