In this installment of He Said, She Said, our opinionated duo examines the complicated psychology of ordering on a date. Is it ok for the ladies to chow down on ribs or the men to order a pink cocktail? The team weighs in:
She Said – By Elizabeth C.
While I’d like to say that, these days, ladies should be able to order whatever they want when dining on a date, there are some guidelines one might be wise to follow. I love giant burritos, messy burgers and buffalo wings as much as the next person (probably more), but there is a time and a place for these delicious indulgences, and a first date is probably not one of them.
I don’t say this because I find eating those items un-ladylike, or because I think men might judge your eating habits, but rather because first dates are awkward by nature and having food all over your face, hands and outfit probably won’t set you any more at ease. There is nothing fun about trying to pay attention to conversation, look attractive and smile with cilantro in your teeth or ketchup dripping onto your new shirt. This applies to both parties – just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with food on your face.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising you to stick to the garden salad on dates. I’m simply suggesting that you probably will be happier ordering something easy to eat (preferably with a knife and fork) in an introductory level dating situation. There are plenty of yummy and still-filling things that fall into this category: pasta dishes, chicken, fish, steak or well constructed sandwiches that go easy on the sauces. If you really want that burrito, go for the burrito bowl – all the same ingredients, but easy to eat with a fork.
If you’re shaking your head and disagreeing with me right now, consider when the tables are turned. Have you ever been on a date and been repulsed by the eating habits of the person across from you? Watching someone lick buffalo sauce off his fingers or devour a slab of ribs is a less than appealing first impression.
If your relationship goes the distance, you’ll have plenty of time to reach a comfort level where dipping French fries in your milkshake or sweating profusely because you’ve drowned your lo-mein in Sriracha is acceptable, but best to leave some things to the imagination early on.
This topic is a fun one for me because I have always been a fan of the types of drinks that may not be considered the “manliest” choice and have always struggled with the where and when of ordering these socially unacceptable drinks for men. For me, it doesn’t even really matter if it is the first date, the 50th date or even dinner with family or friends. For some reason there has always been a weird stigma around ordering certain drinks and food and I think it is time we break down those barriers and create a world where a guy can order a frozen strawberry margarita while watching the game at a sports bar with the guys. I love a cold beer as much as anybody, but sometimes you just want to order something different without being ridiculed by the entire restaurant.
I started to attempt to go against the popular choice many years ago when at dinner with my wife. I really wanted a strawberry daiquiri but was incredibly embarrassed to order one. It wasn’t my wife that I was embarrassed to order in front of, but rather our server. I knew that I would be looked down upon for ordering this drink (based off of what I had experienced in the past within my own social circles) and wasn’t prepared for the disapproving look when I placed my order. So, I did the only logical thing I could think of: I had my wife order the daiquiri and I ordered a beer.
As soon as our drinks arrived, and our waiter was safely out of view from our table, we switched drinks and I got my delicious frozen treat. Now just to be safe, I kept both drinks very close to one another on the middle of the table so an untrained eye would never assume that I was not drinking that manly beer in the frosted mug. This plan worked, but I shouldn’t have had to go to those extremes just to order the beverage I really wanted.
I know that many of you will say that I was being crazy and you should just order what you want and not care about what anyone else thinks, but that is not the point. Many people find themselves in the same situation I was in; ordering based off of what they thought they were supposed to be ordering instead of what they really wanted. I have on multiple occasions seen a guy say that a salad looks good only to end up ordering the steak or ribs, or a husband taking a sip of his wife’s appletini and secretly wishing he could have the rest but ultimately just going back to the light beer slowly getting warm on the table.
This problem goes both ways. I’ve been in dining situations where I’ve heard a woman say she wished she could have the ribs or the 22-ounce steak, but opted to go with fish or pasta for simply because it wouldn’t have been “right” to get all messed up diving into a slab of ribs smothered in BBQ sauce, or a piece of steak so big it comes on one of those extra-long oval plates. Whether we like it or not, our society has created a set of norms when it comes to who is expected to order what at a restaurant, and it is depriving people of the drinks and dishes they wished they were eating.
I think I may start attempting to sway this stigma with my group of friends by ordering a pina colada they next time I am out instead of that beer. What will you do to go outside the boundaries of what we have been accustomed to ordering? Let us know in the comments below!