Dating & Dining: Are The Old Rules Outdated?

While dating and dining, learn the rules you should break... and the ones you need to follow.

Dating Rules: How To Navigate A Dinner Date Toa Heftiba via Unsplash 

When it comes to dating, dining is a staple. It's an effective way to learn more about your date, see how compatible you are, and build a connection. And if there are a lot of dating rules, you'd better believe the world of dating and dining is even more complicated.

My first memorable experience of dating and dining was in my early 20s. I went out on a couple of dates with a cute guy from my gym. He had a hamburger on our first date, and on our second date, he ordered a meal that required using utensils. It was a turning point for me when I saw how he held and used his fork and knife. The way he ate brought visions of a guy in prison protecting his meal by keeping it close in case it was taken away from him. I just couldn't picture myself going out with him again. The reality is we didn't have much in common, much to talk about, and it was hard for me to get past his table manners. That got me thinking about some non-negotiables in the landscape of food and dates...


Dating And Dining Rules To Ditch 
If you're not getting asked out after having a having a meal with your date, it's possible that one or more of these old dating and dining rules are sabotaging your dating life. Ditch these tired tips and you may find yourself going out on many more second dates. 

Never taking your date to breakfast, lunch, or dinner on a first date. Many people steer away from dinner as a first date because if things aren't going well, it's not as easy to quickly leave as a coffee date. But if you'd like to know someone better, breakfast, lunch or dinner are great first dates. They give you more time to learn about each other.  


Having liquid dates. Dates centered around alcohol and happy hours cloud your vision of who the person really is, creating a false sense of intimacy with the likelihood of having sex early on. Don't drink to get buzzed or for liquid courage. Stay sober by enjoying one (or two, max) drink with food. 

Ordering for your date. While ordering for your date can be a kind gesture, it can also be perceived as controlling. If you're a guy, instead of ordering for your date, let her order first.  If you'd still like to order for her, ask if she's okay with that instead of just taking the initiative. The thoughtfulness will be appreciated. 

Not eating much. Being nervous on a date can cause you to push food around your plate instead of eating it. If you're hungry but not eating, you may not come across as your best self. Eat the amount you'd normally eat, as if you're having a meal with a good friend.      

Being self conscious about what you order. If you tend to order a salad or something light because you don't want to be seen as having a large appetite, stop doing this! The only time to order a salad on a date is if you genuinely like salads. Order what you like and you'll have a more enjoyable dating and dining experience. 


Taking advantage of your date's generosity. Don't order the most expensive food or drink on the menu. If you don't normally order expensive meals and pay for them yourself, don't do this on a date — you'll come across as a gold digger.

Expecting the guy to pay for the meal. When the check comes, don't assume and expect the guy to pay. At the same time, don't be paying for most or all of your meals. You can offer by saying something like, "Can I contribute to the check?" and see how he responds. If he says "Yes" more often than "No", and this bothers you, you may not want to see him again. A gentleman is happy to pay, appreciative of your offer, and on occasion, accepts your offer to pay.  

More dating rules from YourTango:

Dating And Dining Rules To Follow
For a more enjoyable (and potentially successful) dating experience, follow these updated, fresh and realistic rules. In doing so, you'll be your best self and increase the possibility of being asked out again. Plus, you get a great dining experience — it's win-win.


Be considerate of your date's food requirements and allergies. Check with your date about her/his food preferences and requirements.  For instance, if (s)he is a vegetarian, vegan, healthy eater, has dietary issues, allergies, etc., you will want to accommodate her/him. Consideration goes a long way and (s)he will appreciate this quality about you.      

Make reservations if the restaurant is popular, busy, or fancy. Making reservations keeps you from standing around and waiting for a long period of time. This shows that you were thinking ahead and is sure to score you points.   

Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are suitable for the restaurant. It's mortifyign to show up in casual clothes if the dress attire is on the formal side (and vice-versa). Dress in a style that's conducive to eating; for instance, don't wear clothing that's too tight.

Treat the waitstaff well. Be friendly and respectful to the waitstaff, but don't flirt with them. You are on a date with the person you're with, not the server.


Order food that goes well with your bodily functions. Stay away from too much garlic. In case you share a kiss, you won't be self conscious about having bad breath. Avoid food that tends to upset your stomach so that you don't find yourself in the bathroom for long periods at a time.

Order food that's easy to eat. This helps you relax and be present. Instead of worrying about things getting stuck in your teeth or sauce splattering on your clothes, you'll be free to engage in conversation.

Keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum. People who slur and behave obnoxiously after drinking too much are never attractive. Limit alcoholic beverages to one or two drinks.

Be mindful of your manners. Be a polite eater. Use your napkin and your utensils properly. Chew with your mouth closed and don't slurp your soup or drinks. Also, eat a moderate pace to keep things at an equilibrium. (S)he may feel rushed if (s)he is still chewing and you're just watching.


Carry on a conversation. When a meal is involved, getting to know each other is the main focus of the date. Even if you're not feeling the chemistry, the more honorable thing to do is to make your date the priority and the meal secondary.

Don't use Groupons or coupons. When you don't know your date that well, using Groupons or coupons can make you seem cheap. Hold off on using these until you've gotten to know him/her more.

Have Fun With Dating And Dining
Dining is one of the most popular choices for dates, and with good reason — it's fun! If these dating and dining rules seem like a lot to remember, just use your common sense. The more important thing is to enjoy your date. What are your thoughts about dating and dining rules? Let's swap our favorites and least favorites in the comments section below.


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Get even more insights about the delicious ways in which food influences our relationships with each other and ourselves by checking out all of our Love Transforms stories here!