I’ve been asked a bunch of times now what makes up my current set of dating rules.
- Don’t make the second date the day after the first. Give things time to shake out.
- No sex on the first date. This is currently defined as p-v penetration. Activities up until that point are okay. Sex can definitely cloud your judgement on whether you are compatible with a new prospect outside the bedroom. Things get complicated when you discover the conversation and fun levels aren’t so good, but the sex is great. Best to learn that the date part of dating isn’t going well, and leave it there.
- Don’t pay for everything. I set my limit at about $5 to buy her anything for the first date. Once we have an established relationship, everything is good. When I invite you to dinner, of course there is no price – get what you want. We’ll hit the five-star steakhouse and rack up a couple hundred dollar bill. Awesome. But on a first date, she doesn’t get to suggest a restaurant she can’t afford.
- Be a gentleman. You can be a feminist and still hold the door for her and don’t sit down until she has sat down. Don’t be afraid to treat her like she’s special. If she isn’t special, why are you out with her?
- Listen. Shut up and listen to her. Don’t make awkward silences, but don’t interrupt and don’t sit there and wait for your turn to talk. Listen to her. Ask interested questions and learn about how.
- Get verbal consent the first time you touch her. Tell her you want to touch her hand, wait for her to agree, and then do it. From here, things often follow a natural progression, but make sure she is receptive. And if she doesn’t say yes or start to touch you, don’t fucking touch her.
- Be there. I have been complimented on how “emotionally present” I am on dates. Be there, with her. Don’t be on the Twitter or texting away. Check your messages during a bathroom break. If it is getting late and you have partners you want to wish good night, tell her, do it, then put your phone away. (As I was just reminded, this isn’t just a first date rule, it’s an always rule. When one of my girls texts me, I tell who I’m with, sometimes check it right away and sometimes not. But this way everybody is a part of it all.)
- Don’t be afraid. You aren’t interviewing for a top level executive job. You’re not auditioning for a lead in a hot action film. You are out on a lovely date with a lovely person. Talk. Don’t be afraid to tell her that you’re enjoying yourself. Don’t go psycho on her. This leads to the final rule:
- No emotional gushing on a first date. Quick connections can form very quickly. And they can be very deep. This is all true. Sometimes when you know, you know. But don’t open the emotional taps and let it all pour out. You’ll sound needy and desperate. As a poly guy, the last thing you want to come off as is desperate. You’ve been vetted – approval from your other partners is a great character reference that makes the person you’re with more comfortable with you.
Like so many of my other rules and guidelines, these are specific aspects of the most important rule: don’t be a dick. A good date is only a good date when it is good for everyone.