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Recognizing an Appropriate First Date

In the last few months, I've seen so much content about what is and what is not an *appropriate* first date. From the ice cream date conversation over the summer, to 48 oysters and Cheesecake Factory TikToks, it seems like all we ever hear about is dating culture.

It's exhausting. But I get it.

We live in a culture that is so unbelievably divided. Everything is black and white, yes or no, this or that, right or wrong. So it makes sense that these conversations seem to pop up every few months. It gives people one more thing to debate about.

And with the rise of femininity and masculinity and content, and so many people positioning themselves as dating experts, it can be difficult to sort through the noise and approach modern dating with a dose of logic and a dash of reality.


Let's be honest, first dates are awkward. Most of the time.

Unless you've been "talking" to this person for a while and you already have some sort of rapport, it can be intimidating. And even when you already know them, crossing that line into testing the romantic waters is usually not without its discomfort.

Think about it - here you are, with a complete stranger. And you have to find things to talk about, and anecdotes to bring up that will take up a decent amount of time, not knowing if you'll ever see this person again. It's a pretty wild concept if you really think about it.

There's a lot of nervousness and so many unknowns. But we do it. We do it in the hopes of finding love.

We do it in the hopes that maybe this will be our last, first date.

We do it with the desire to be loved, understood and respected ever present in the pit of our stomach.

We put ourselves through the awkward tension of sitting across from a total stranger for an hour or longer, in the name of love.

And that makes it worth it.

While conversations online about dating, love, and relationships make dating seem like the most dire situation ever. I want to caution you against being so chronically online, that you start to think that some of these skits, or podcast conversations are normal or based in reality.

In my circle and my community, no one is talking about 50/50, "high value", or what who brings to what table.

We're discussing new musical artists we like or podcasts we're listening to. We're having dinner parties or game nights with friends. We're reminiscing on old times or making plans to take trips together in the coming year.

It can be easy to conflate reality with what we see online. Especially since our algorithms curate what we see so deliberately and carefully.

I say this to say, that what people online tell you is "normal" or "real", is generally an over-exaggerated version of someone's truth.

Yes, dating is hard. And maybe it's harder now than it was when I was actively dating over 5 years ago. I can imagine with the introduction of things like dating apps and even more social media platforms, it's only gotten worse.

There are so many voices out there telling you one thing or another, and I'm not really trying to be yet another person giving out advice. But I think what the dating conversation lacks, is reality and nuance.


Let's take the Cheesecake Factory skit that went viral recently.

In case you haven't heard about it, a skit went viral on TikTok wherein a young woman refused to get out of the car on a date because the date took her to the Cheesecake Factory.

She can be seen in the video saying, "Do you take someone who looks like this to a chain restaurant?" And other demeaning comments.

Her date responds by saying that she was late getting ready and they consequently missed their reservation to the more upscale restaurant that he had initially planned.

The first time I watched this, I knew it was fake. The vibe felt off and it just seemed so outlandish to me.

At the very least, I couldn't really believe that someone would film themselves on a date and willingly put it on the internet. But I suppose people post themselves doing a lot worse these days.

Regardless, everyone else thought it was real. And so began the discourse. You were either on team, "I love the Cheesecake Factory! Looks like a great date to me!" or "Good for her! Let women have standards!"

I can't really wrap my head around why we always file ourselves into two separate camps like this. Kind of like in kindergarten when your teacher makes you file into two straight lines before you can go outside for recess.

I'm not here to give my opinion on whether or not the Cheesecake Factory is an appropriate date, specifically. But I am here to hopefully provide some insight into what to look for in a good first date. Because it seems like in all the chatter and noise, we've forgotten what the actual point of dating is - to find a meaningful relationship.


In my opinion, there are (at least) 6 elements of a good first date:

  1. Thoughtfulness

  2. Safety

  3. Engagement

  4. Effort

  5. Courtesy

  6. Enjoyment


When people discuss first dates online - what is and is not appropriate or okay, I think the core of the issue that a lot of people have, comes from the lack of thoughtfulness. Was the person who asked you on a date thoughtful about the date that they planned for you?

An example of a thoughtful date is, let's say you mention that you really love bird watching, but you've never had the opportunity to go. Your date, being the thoughtful guy that he is, decides to sign the two of you up for a local bird watching experience and plans a meal for afterwards.

Or let's say you haven't had much conversation before deciding to go on a first date. If you meet on a dating app or are set up by friends. A thoughtful date will ask if you have a favorite type of food or if you've been in the mood for anything specific lately, and plan accordingly.

I like to reference the episode of Gilmore Girls where Paris is going on her first date with Jamie. She's freaking out, pacing around the room, worried that it'll be an awful time. Mostly concerned that Jamie hadn't referenced the Zagat when choosing the restaurant to take her to. She opens the door when he arrives and Jamie says, "Do you like Italian?" Paris replies, "I love Italian." To which Jamie says, "Great, I found an Italian restaurant in the Zagat that's supposed to be delicious."

Thoughtfulness is one of the most important elements of a first date, because it signals that your date actually cares. Asking you to come over to watch a movie, or just fitting. you into his schedule is not the sign of someone who put a lot of thought into spending time with you.


This isn't talked about much, but I think a man who takes your safety or concern for safety into account is the kind of man you want to go on a date with.

I tend to think it's inappropriate to invite a woman to come to your apartment on a first date. Trust hasn't been established, and to me, the focus should be on talking and getting to know each other. Getting to see if there is a real connection.

A man who takes into consideration and understands your need to feel safe is one of true quality.


Another element of a good first date, is engagement. How engaged is your date in what you have to say? Is he asking questions about you? Or is he only talking about himself? Is he following up on the stories you're telling and listening intently? Or does he pivot back to whatever he wants to talk about?

We've already established that first dates are generally pretty awkward and most of them are boring quite honestly. But a great first date is one where both parties are engaged and both parties are interested in learning about the new person sitting across the table.


Similar to the thoughtfulness tip, it's also important to assess how much effort was put into the date.

This one kind of depends on personal preference. Some people prefer low effort dates like coffee dates, ice cream dates, or a walk in the park. While others want a five dining experience.

There is nothing wrong with either type of date, depending on what you want and are comfortable with. But a good first date should have some level of effort.


It's important to take note of the little, courteous acts that your date does or doesn't do. Did he open the door to the restaurant for you? Did he pull out your chair and wait until you sat down before he sat? Does he pour your water first before pouring his own? A man who is courteous will at the very least, make for a pleasant date. Even if you find that you don't have much in common.

And beyond his courtesy towards you, does he showcase courtesy towards the wait staff or employees? Does he tip well? Does he make their jobs harder or easier?

There's something so endearing and attractive about a man who is not only kind to you, but to others as well.


Finally, did you enjoy the date?! Social media tends to focus on the unimportant elements of dating and forgets one of the most important factors: Was it fun? Did you laugh? Did you have fun with this person?

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in our lists, that we forget to ask ourselves if we even like the person. Which, if you truly are looking for a lasting love, should be one of the primary things you address with yourself.


Here's the thing that I think we need to realize, different people are okay with and enjoy different things. Some people deem a coffee date disrespectful, and others find it perfectly okay. Some people expect luxury dining on a first date, and others would be fine taking a walk in the park.

It's all about what you want and what you're looking for.

But one thing I think we can all agree on, is that we should not be taking too much advice from podcasters on TikTok. Let's make our own decisions based on our feminine intuition, based on the advice from women in our community, and based on the lessons we've learned from our past experiences.

For more relationship advice, check out my wife talk series here on the blog, or my relationship videos on YouTube!




Dec 12, 2023



Unknown member
Nov 07, 2023

Yh I agree I think that tiktok date is fake. The tips you gave about things to consider in a first date will definitely be useful for me.


Just a California girl who believes in a good cup of tea, a fresh bouquet of peonies, page turning novels & romanticizing everyday life.

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