Last week, we asked our Facebook fans whether dinner or drinks was the way to go for a first date.  It seemed to be a topic of much debate, so we asked our He Said, She Said team, Elizabeth and Phil, to weigh in.  Join the debate in the comments section below!

She Said:

Even though I understand that sometimes the end of a first date can’t come too soon, I have to go with dinner on this one.  You might be committed to being in someone’s presence for a slightly longer period of time if you choose a whole meal over cocktails, but consider these items:

1. Sitting down for a meal with someone really is a good way to get to know them.  You have no choice but to make conversation, or else you risk the dreaded awkward silence while waiting for your food to arrive.  People are often nervous and uptight at the beginning of a first date, and meeting for a drink might not allow time to get past that.  Some folks need a little time to relax and be themselves – spending a meal together will allow them to do that.

2. Restaurants provide you with instant conversation topics – the menu, your food, food in general, neighboring tables, the wait staff.  A restaurant comes equipped with fodder for small talk, which will hopefully lead you to a more personal discussion.  I know a couple that discovered a mutual hatred of tomatoes on their first date and immediately bonded over it (they are now married) – that conversation might never have come up if they’d stuck to just drinks.

3. Dining with someone helps you get a better handle on how they comport themselves.  The manner in which they interact with the wait staff, their table manners, whether they pick up the check and how much they tip are all things that you might want to consider when sizing up relationship potential.  Watching him send his entrée back to the kitchen three times or attempt to tell a story with half of a sandwich in his mouth are red flags you will miss if you opt for a happy hour rendezvous.

4. There is an obvious potential downside to meeting for drinks: the presence of alcohol.  A glass of wine to settle nerves and get conversation going is certainly not a bad thing, but adding food to the equation will help prevent your buzz – or your date’s – from overshadowing the “get to know you” phase.  You don’t want to reveal too much because that martini has made you feel like you’ve known each other forever, and you probably want to remember the details of your conversation when you’re deciding whether or not there will be a date #2.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating prohibition here – I’m just suggesting that slipping some chicken and pasta in there somewhere might help everyone prevent embarrassment.

He Said:

While it would be very easy for me to say that just getting drinks on the first date is the obvious choice because you can bail out of drinks with relative ease, and that adult beverages can only help an awkward situation, I do truly believe that just meeting for drinks is a much better option for that all important first encounter.

With the first date comes a lot of pressure for both parties and the idea of sitting through an entire dinner with a relative stranger only ads to that stress level.  Only meeting for drinks immediately relieves a lot of the anxiety of that first meeting by eliminating some of the expectations that come with a dinner date.  Dinner is a very set series of events, and with that set series of events comes the anxiety of what you are going to do to impress your date in every step of that process.  Let’s walk through what may run through the mind of each party before that first dinner date.

Step 1: The meeting and small talk

Once you get to the restaurant you have step 1 of the dinner date process.  That 2 to 5 minutes where you are alone, with someone you don’t know very well, and a couple of menus.  What do you do first?  Read your menu and begin to choose your meal?  That’s rude right?  You should really be getting to know your date, but at the same time you don’t want to have no idea what to order and make your date wait while you awkwardly fumble through the menu as your server stands above you, staring with a disapproving glaze due to your unpreparedness.  This can’t be the first time you have ever gone to dinner at a restaurant right?  We are only 5 minutes in and already this is a disaster.  With just drinks, you sit down, order your drink and get on to making your date fall madly in love with you.

Step 2:

Now the server approaches and asks if you would like a drink.  What now?  Is your date getting alcohol?  Beer, wine or a mixed drink?  If you order alcohol and he or she doesn’t, what would that look like?  You can’t get dinner without a drink?  Your date must think you are already looking for the door and needs some liquid motivation to get through the night.  Again, just drinks takes away all of these worries.

Steps 3 through 50:

Let’s fly through this since I think I have made my point and we are only at ordering drinks.  I don’t even need to get into the judgment that is passed based off of that all-important food ordering decision.

What I am getting to is that dinner brings way too many decisions to worry about during, and second guess after, the date.  Just meeting for drinks takes away all of those choices and allows you to spend some quality time with someone who may soon become a very important part of your life.  I think this decision is easy.  Meet for drinks to take off the pressure and get to the core of that first date; getting to know someone minus unnecessary pressures.  Plus, if getting drinks goes well, there is no reason to not carry that first date into a delicious first dinner together.

What do you think?  Who wins this edition of He Said / She Said on The Dish?  Let us know in the comments below!