Beers with your bud aside, when two single adults get together for a drink date, there is almost always a flirtatious undercurrent, if not a full-out and obvious mutual sexual attraction. If you’re in the dating scene, regardless of your age or time of life, and find yourself out on an early days drinks/dinner date, make sure that you optimize your chances of fulfilling whatever is your agenda. Granted, you can only control so much — but you can plan ahead enough to stay on the right side of outright manipulation. A great date is one thing, and a terrible date is another, but at least both of them provide logical progressions. What you want to avoid, at all costs, is a mediocre, mixed-signals date: You do not want to end up in the dreaded Friends Zone. Possibly you’ve been there before: so, recognize the signs that you are not getting any(where). You probably have enough friends already: in fact, you could probably use a culling. This time out, get results.
Don’t Text “Massage”
Avoid flirtation in pre-date text “massages” — as in, text messages with bad/suggestive wordplay. Sure, it might work. But it might not, and if it doesn’t, it’s soured the evening before it’s started. In fact, avoid pre-date text messages.
Body Yes, Bawdy No
Be subtly physical, in order to test the waters. Walk very closely to her on the street. (If opportunity presents itself, manipulate circumstances to benefit “accidental” contact: take her down a crowded street, and take her hand as a non-threatening signal to simply keep the two of you together in the throng. Bonus: You play the role of protector at the same time.) In a bar or restaurant, read her body language: If her hands are on the table and a little bit forward, consider reaching across the table for one of them (not right away, though — do it mid-date). As for conversation: Similar to texts mentioned above, early dates are not the time for bawdy talk. Be borderline formal; be a gentleman; err on the side of staid. In otherwords: Save the “That’s what she said!” Office jokes for…in fact, just, don’t use “That’s what she said!” Office jokes. Ever.
View to a Kill
Never wait for what you think might be the “perfect” time. Instead (note that this is similar but not quite the same approach), strike when your instincts tell you to do so. Just like that. If you have a set of rules or criteria about exactly when to make a move, you’ll end up spending too much time thinking about how/when/where to do it. When the moment finally comes — if, indeed, it does — it becomes forced and she can see it a mile away. Not all that sure about how to read her? Carry yourself like a confident, self-assured guy: It will convince her you’re not just playing a role, even if you are.
Words, Not Action
For either the first night or the longer term, if you want to seal the deal — at any level of euphemism — keep your word. Women appreciate a partner who does what he says he will do. Don’t promise anything grandiose simply to impress (in fact, try to be generally honest). Again, this displays confidence, as well as organization. A corollary: When you meet up with her, be at the very least punctual, and preferably 5-10min early. It shows her she’s “worth” your time; it also gives you the territorial advantage.
Pro-Active, Not Words
A subset to the above point, this one almost-but-not-quite universally applicable: women appreciate a partner who is pro-active. Unless she seems like a real type-A who knows exactly what she wants and prefers to pick and choose and direct (in which case, you have to decide if that’s what you’re looking for), take the initiative and suggest and set up the early dates. Show her you think she’s worth your doing what amounts to being a P.A. One of numerous advantages for you, here, is that you can subtly book the evening to suit your own tastes.
Home Court Advantage
Consider hosting her at your place for casual drinks, before you head out. If she seems hesitant, back off immediately and say it was just an idea. If she agrees, keep it to drinks only — do not try to make a move. (If she moves on you, well: your call.) Make her comfortable in your living space early, versus potentially uptight in a sometimes-too-formal restaurant setting; simply, make your living space a place she can see herself visiting. Plus, if you have some wine leftover when the pair of you head out on the town, she’s likelier to end up joining you for a nightcap.
Us women love us some good, deliberate reassurance. No matter how well your evening went, drop her a line to let her know you had a good time and think that she’s an interesting person. Start with a text message. Yes, even if you’re lying and have no intention of seeing her again. You might bump into her down the way, and it’s best to be on polite terms — not dissimilar to job networking. This is the kind of tactful lying that keeps Western society functioning (probably barely functional, too). If you did have a good time and want to see her again, state the former clearly, simply and without wordplay; ditto the latter, and end your communiqué with a suggestion of date/time. Do not, at any point “thank” her — thanks are for gifts and gestures of kindness. If the night went well and you “got” something: it wasn’t a gift. By the same token, neither did she go out with you as a kindness. Right?
Image courtesy of Omaitargh.