Dating on the Edge: Perils of the First Date

By Stephanie Todd, Art by Sarah Choo.

It is the most treacherous of situations. It affects both young and old. A terrifying rite of passage our society inflicts upon us. It’s the first date.

Whether it’s a blind date, a Tinder date or a “Surprise! It’s a date” terrifying cultural rituals lie before you. From the timing to the location, to how to end the evening (nudge nudge wink wink), we present to you a ‘how to’ for your first one-on-one interaction with your potential life partner.

The first challenge presents itself before the date begins. You agree to meet at 7pm, but what time do you actually arrive?

  • Too early seems overly eager. As you sit there, half an hour early, we invite you to reflect on your mistakes. You now have at least 30 minutes to scroll through the same Facebook feed, look up at the door whenever it opens, and overthink every word they ever spoke.
  • Arriving too late sets a bad tone for the potential relationship. No excuse, be it a late-running train, a Google Maps failure, or even a dying grandmother, can save the relationship from this poor start.
  • Arriving at 7 pm on the dot seems the answer – but if you’re anything like me, your anxiety will still be in overdrive.

The first conversation

You’ve never met one-on-one before. Or never met, period.

  • Specimen A regales you with their life story, and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Make a convenient bathroom run, and phone a friend before the night’s a total bust.
  • Specimen B has nothing to say. You sit opposite one another rearranging the table decorations and avoiding eye contact. You’re back home at 8:30 pm, just in time to watch Married At First Sight. You definitely dodged a bullet there.
  • With Specimen C, conversation flows and the night flies. Unfortunately, you hit it off so well you become platonic best friends.

The location

The date can succeed or fail, depending on its location.

‘Dinner and a movie’

Dinner offers a number of pitfalls, primarily at its end.

  • The waiter places the bill on the table. A Mexican stand-off commences between you, your date, and the unsuspecting slip of paper. A guitar chord strums. No one breathes for a long second. No one blinks. The bill remains.
  • For ladies, do you take the modern ‘feminist’ approach, and pay your way? Or do you insist chivalry isn’t dead? Put up a token struggle, but give in when you glance at your bank account balance. Of course, there’s the awkward moment when your partner unblinkingly hands the full bill your way. They fix you with an accusing stare.

It’s movie time, and your choice of the movie could make or break the evening. Choose wisely.

  • You both sit there on tenterhooks, waiting for the other to make the first move. Their arm is strategically placed on the armrest. It would be so easy just to take their hand…their every twitch sends you into spasms of hyperactivity. You don’t even remember the movie afterwards.
  • If you are a film buff, your date had better not speak, eat or breathe loudly. If the latest indie arthouse drama is not for them, they can get lost. And if they leave before the end credits scene, let them go. The relationship would never have gone anywhere with such a movie amateur.

The Sporty Date

The ice rink’s danger is deceptive, for a broken ankle from a clumsy fall is the least of your worries.

  • The worst case scenario is slamming into their professional ice skater ex with all the grace of a baby elephant. There is a definite possibility their ex could go Tonya Harding on your kneecaps if you make a move.
  • Ice skating is also a classic friendzone activity. One party is under the impression they are receiving two hours of illicit cuddles and touches. In reality, the handrails get more attention, or they show off their ice skating chops and leave you in the icy dust.

The Bar, aka That Moment You Will Regret

For the end of the date, visiting a bar for a quiet drink is always a popular destination. Here you will be able to observe your date’s drinking activities.

  • The Heavyweight only ever has ice in the glass. They sculled it before you sat down.
  • The Slow Drinker’s glass is fuller two hours in than when it was ordered.
  • The Speed Drunk seems more interested in getting the bartender’s attention than your own.
  • The Calculator knows precisely how many drinks they can and will have. They will also undoubtedly remember that one drink you owed them from last month.

Parting Ways

You’ve done it. You’ve made it through the evening. You’re exhausted, your facial muscles are twitching from keeping a perpetual delighted smile on your face, and you feel vaguely ill after the ancient whisky they made you try.

  • For some, the hug will suffice. You are saying “welcome to the friend zone!” in the clearest way possible.
  • For others, a hopeful hover of the face right near their cheek might inspire romantic attention.

Now comes the final moment. The most important of all. Do you invite your date in to continue the evening, or firmly close the door, while inventing a story about a:

  • Rabid dog.
  • A slimy roommate.
  • A sudden but deadly illness accompanied by a few hacking coughs.
  • Ladies, a quick suggestion – telling them Aunty Flo has arrived should send them running with no further issues.

Remember there is always another option to avoid the stress — remain celibate, and single. Cats will never fail you.