First Dates – Coffee? Drinks? Dinner? What Should She Expect?

first date couple meeting for dinnerMarissa is a wee bit bent out of shape this morning, because the guy she’s meeting this weekend suggested that they meet over drinks at a cafe.  She would have preferred meeting over a lovely lunch or a dinner at The Four Seasons.  She’s asking me if the guy is “broke” or “cheap” — oh my…  this comes up a lot, so today, I’m sharing with you what I shared with her…

“Marissa, I know you love fine dining and fancy places.  I do too.  And yet for first dates, I don’t think it’s smart or reasonable for us to suggest the type of venue that would be fitting for … say Valentine’s Day after dating for 2 months.  You know?  It’s important that we don’t put too much pressure on the guy for the first date.
Every day of my life, as a matchmaker and dating coach, I hear sad stories from men who feel as if they have been taken advantage of by women, through the dating process. It’s not your fault or mine that some men are feeling this way, but it is a good idea to be considerate of the varied experiences that men are having in today’s complex dating culture.  I want you to have every opportunity with the men who are interested in you, so it’s worth wrestling with this question — What should a first date be, and where?  And not to jump to a quick conclusion about a man’s character based on what he suggests for a first date.

Men are Being Abused on the First Date

Some women have indeed taken advantage of the men they’ve dated, knowingly or not, “milking” the guy, accepting his invitations, whether or not they are actually interested, and stringing the guy along, as he picks up $40 drinks tabs, $80 and $120 dinner tabs — all which chip away at his resources, the very resources that women want and expect men to all have in abundance.  It’s understandable that a man might feel that he’s been mistreated when the lady he’s been courting so nicely and earnestly chooses to move on.  It doesn’t take very many first dates that went nowhere for a man to reconsider how he wants to invest his time and his resources for future dating adventures.
I’ve tried every way there is to do personal matchmaking, and what works best, to keep the men happy (and we don’t want to have an agency without men…) is I let the GUY pick the nature of the first date.  Women LOVE to dress up and go to fine places.  Guys?  Not so much.  They’ll do it if they have to, and some men truly are cultured and sophisticated and really enjoy being in a fine hotel, but honestly, if for a first date I try to steer him to a Four Seasons, he instantly assumes that he’s got a “princess” on his hands (either you or me — neither is good…), and the guy will be on guard, worried that he’s meeting another of “these LA women” who expects her guy to be fine dining her right and left, every night.  Trust me, not very many men want to date “that girl.”

Why He Wants to ‘Meet for Coffee’

There are men who are the exception — men who truly enjoy fine dining and who might opt for an upper crust environment for a first date.  But that’s rare, I say with confidence and 23 years of matchmaking experience.
One of my wealthiest gentlemen clients is such a mensch — He dines at The Grille on the Alley and Mastro’s all the time — and yet he would never agree to anything more than casual coffee for a first date.  Anyone who would judge him quickly based on where he’d go for a first date would be missing out on a really wonderful man. It’s SO important not to jump to conclusions too early.  Anytime he sniffs “entitlement” he runs the other way, and quickly!
Ladies, don’t let your expectations get in the way of seeing a good man for who he truly is on the inside.  Hopefully you’ve tucked away some financial resources for yourself, so that you can enjoy any and all personal indulgences that you really love (spa days, travel, dining anywhere you like) and you really don’t need a guy to “save” you — while it would be oh so nice to partner with a guy who’s super wealthy, who showers loved ones with all kinds of goodies and luxurious experiences, honestly — those men are so very rare, and the wealthiest (or best looking) men are rarely ever the best catch.  What often comes with money or beauty (studliness) in our culture, unfortunately is entitlement or narcissism.  Not always, but I sure do see this often.

Let Him be The Guy

Give your suitors a real chance, by letting him be The Guy, allowing him to show up as he is, and let him choose the nature of the first few dates.  What women forget to consider is that, since the guy usually pays for the lion’s share of dating expenses, a man who’s been single for a while has seen thousands and thousands of his hard earned, after tax dollars and hours and hours of his precious time poured into a black hole.
A gentleman I spoke with yesterday said it so well.  He said, “Women want us to have lots of financial resources, yet they don’t seem to be sensitive to how wasteful the dating process is for us guys.  Don’t women realize that the guy who watches his money is usually the one who ends up having lots of it?”
We want to be with a guy who’s good with money and who uses his time well. The best way to date is to be casual and really considerate about the time and the money that is being invested in the first couple of dates.  Unfortunately, most first dates don’t end up in life long love, so it’s not smart for a guy to make a habit of going out for long, expensive dates.
What a man earns is far less important to me than how he manages what he has.  And so I have enormous respect for men who do dating reasonably, and for the women who allow this and support the guy for being smart and conservative.  Anytime you get a guy showering you with flowers and fine dining on a first date — be appreciative and thankful, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting that kind of a date all the time.”
Tough issue, folks.  Your comments?  I’d love to hear them.
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About Julie

Julie Ferman is the Founder of Julie Ferman Associates. As a personal matchmaker, dating coach, media personality, professional speaker, dating industry consultant and events producer, her mission is to dignify and simplify the love search process for selective, relationship-minded professionals. Julie Ferman Associates provides personal matchmaking services and a full menu of dating coaching services to single men and women throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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