I never know what is appropriate to order on a first date or first dinner date. I am a huge foodie with a healthy appetite, but I am not sure if my date would be turned off if I order a rack of lamb entree and double chocolate cake dessert. Would he judge me for my voracious appetite and love of meat? On the flip side, if I just order a small salad to keep the bill down and appear weight/appearance conscious, will he think I am high maintenance or not being true to who I am? What are your thoughts on sharing appetizers or shared small plates style dinner? Is it too soon to be sharing plates on a first date?! Help me get over my dining anxiety.
Dear Foodie Francine,
Great question! I’m sure many people have these same questions, but are too embarrassed to ask about it. Eating a meal on a first date, or at the beginning stages of dating, can cause quite a bit of anxiety for some. We, as women, are constantly bombarded with images from the media equating beauty with being thin and effortlessly beautiful (at all times). From my personal experience with dating, as well as asking many of my guy friends, men are turned on by a woman who is not afraid to actually eat a meal on a date. I think it’s safe to say that you should order what you want or what you’d normally want to eat. This all goes back to the first rule in dating: BE YOURSELF!
Back to the question. To answer the first part of your question, I would say to not worry about what your date thinks about what you are eating or not eating. If you have a healthy appetite, than by all means order some meat and dessert! If a date judges you for the amount of food your eating and what you’re eating, than he probably is not worth your time. In most situations, he has already seen what you look like and how in shape you appear, and he liked what he saw! I think generally speaking, men love a woman who can eat meat and drink beer. It shows that you’re low maintenance and laid back, and can probably hang with the boys. (Although, this may be a more general rule here in Chicago, where the Midwest boys love their meat and beer.) However, if you are watching your weight or are simply not very hungry, do not stuff yourself with a cheeseburger just to appear cool and laid back. If you want a salad, than be all means order a salad! But, if you do order a salad, do it because that’s what you want to eat, not to keep the bill down (unless you’re paying).
Sidenote: Men, if you take a woman out on a date and choose the restaurant, I would highly suggest looking at the menu BEFORE your date so you are fully aware of the prices. If you plan on paying, which I think you should for your first date, then it is up to you to choose a restaurant or a happy hour that is within your budget. This also goes for the ladies out there. If your date tells you to pick a spot, be aware of how expensive the restaurant is. If you are reading this entry, more likely than not, you are in your mid to late 20’s and in the dating world, which means, you are MOST LIKELY not dating millionaires. So, if a man takes you to a steakhouse on your date, then don’t order a side salad!
Now to the last part of your question, the infamous shared plates issue. My advice, DO NOT DO IT! From my experience with dating and small plate or tapas restaurants is that it does not go hand-in-hand. In theory, it sounds wonderful and romantic. Many nice restaurants today are small plates or shared style. If your date knows that going into the date, and is OK with it, then go for it! But, I would be very wary of going to a tapas restaurant on a first, second, or even third date. Save those for once you’re in a relationship and you’re not hyper-conscious of what you’re eating and how much money you’re spending.
Not to put all men into the same category, but men do not want to have a little sample of a bunch of small plates. They want to order their meal and eat their meal. They don’t want to try yours, unless yours came with more french fries or mac and cheese, and they don’t want you to try theirs. When I think about this situation, my own parents come to mind. My mom is very health conscious and will generally order one of the smaller or healthier items on the menu. While my dad is also health conscious, he is more likely to order a good old burger and fries from time to time. My mom will ask him for some french fries, and my dad will say, “Why didn’t you just order something with fries?”. My mom will say, “Because I’m watching my weight, and I knew I could have some of yours.” This frustrates my dad because they are HIS fries that HE ordered. Men + shared plates = disaster.
When I asked another one of my males friends about tapas style dinner dates (for the first few dates), he immediately shook his head and say no way. He explained that he’s always hungry, or at least hungrier than his date, and will eat 75% or 80% of the plates, which will make HIM self-conscious about how much he’s eating. Then he said, do we split the bill, even if I ate most of it? In a nutshell, men find it annoying.
Ladies, SAVE THE TAPAS FOR YOUR GIRLS NIGHTS! Girls LOVE tapas! We get to have little bites of everything and be satisfied, and also drink pitchers of sangria with our besties.
I hope this long and detailed post was helpful! If you got anything from this post, hopefully at the end of the day, eat what you want and be yourself. If being yourself is ordering a rack of lamb, go for it! And just remember, DO NOT GO TO TAPAS ON A FIRST DATE!
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more questions!