As if first dates weren’t tricky enough anyway, along comes Covid.
Lockdowns, masks, jabs, and all the other complications just seem to make it almost impossible to get your love life back on track again.
Like most things in life, there is a routine – not rules to follow exactly, but guidelines – and you need these to make sure that you keep yourself safe while you have a good time.
The problem with the pandemic is that it has wrecked our confidence and our more carefree ways of meeting people.
Most folks have got out of the habit of socialising. A lot of us have become very insular and antisocial because the restrictions have made us nervous and unsure of what used to be a normal life.
Basically, we’re just out of practice.
So here are a few tips – a kind of aide memoir – to get you back into the dating scene.
The first, and most important tip, is to look after your personal safety.
Because we’re rusty, out of the loop, and more than a little nervous, we might not be as aware as we were a couple of years ago of the issues involved in making sure we’re safe – especially on a first date.
All the standard rules apply. Let a trusted friend or family member know exactly where you’re going, what time you’ll be there, and when you estimate getting back.
Have an “escape plan” if you are uncomfortable at any point on the date. This could be as simple as going to the bathroom and calling a friend to call you in 10 minutes with an “emergency” that you have to leave to deal with or another prearranged signal.
Getting dropped off at a friend’s house, rather than your home address, is another good tip for making sure that your first date runs smoothly.
Unless you are totally okay with the person you are dating, we would suggest that going back to their place on a first date might be an extremely dodgy proposition. It’s always going to be a personal choice, of course, but err on the side of caution – always.
Something which is quite common these days is to have a “safe word” which is posted in both male and female bathrooms at venues (these are separate safe words, for obvious reasons).
If you’re experiencing a problem, using the safe word to the bar staff or servers will alert them so that you have a second pair of eyes on the situation.
There is also a generic safe word in common usage these days – “Angel Shot” or “Angela.”.
If you’re asking for an Angel Shot, you need to include how you would like to have it.
Neat – means you just want an escort until you’re out of the situation.
With Ice – means requesting them to call you a taxi or Uber.
With Lime – means call the police.
You can never be too careful on initial dates. The use of date rape drugs like Rohypnol and other memory inhibitors is on the rise. Another new trend is that of “spiking,” which has originated in the UK. This is particularly nasty and involves spiking somebody with a syringe to inject one of the memory inhibitors drugs by surprise.
Done on a dancefloor, where there is lots of movement and body contact, it is possible that if you’re a little tipsy you may not notice. It would be best if you were extra careful about it.
The old trick of slipping something into your drink is another danger. Try to make sure that you never leave your drink unattended. If asked to dance, or if you are engaged in a protracted conversation that distracts you, make sure that you finish your drink or leave what is left and order a fresh one when you get back, making sure that you can see where and how it is prepared and brought to you.
If you can, it’s much safer to order the drink yourself and physically watch it being made and pick it up yourself to bring back to your table or seat.
Pretty depressing, huh?
We’re not aiming to scare you or totally put you off of dating – but you do need to be aware and constantly remind yourself of the possible dangers.
So – on to some nicer stuff
Newly single daters, especially, have an advantage with re-entering the dating scene. They better understand what a long-term relationship entails because of their previous experiences.
There’s always a fine line between being careful and being paranoid.
Going out for something to eat is a favourite first date for a reason. It has just the right amount of intimacy to enable you to learn about the person close-up. You can see the way they dress, their table manners, their attitude towards staff and others around them.
The conversation over a splendid meal is two-way with no distractions. A nice convivial atmosphere will make both of you feel comfortable and relaxed. Trying different food and drink allows you to express opinions and likes and dislikes with each other.
The most interesting insight, though, to your new date is with the bill.
Do they offer to pay for it all? Do they want to split the bill, or do they want you to pay? This could be the deal-breaker to the second date.
Generosity, consideration and etiquette are rare qualities these days, it seems, so if you find someone who is offering Cuban cigars – Cohiba cigars even – or a luxury perfume, as well as an impressive bunch of flowers after just a few dates, you might well have “a keeper” on your hands.
You can certainly have a lot of fun in a brand-new relationship if you keep an open mind and are happy to get stuck into things that are different from your usual experiences.
If you’ve never been parachuting, going to an art gallery or even a local basketball game, you might be surprised – maybe even coming home with some new basketball jerseys or a newfound love of jumping out of aeroplanes from 20,000 feet.
Our number one tip for your new first date though has to be, “relax and enjoy it.”
Good luck with your new first date.