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If You Don't See These Things On The First Date, Avoid Another.

"Two things remain irretrievable: time and a first impression." — Cynthia Ozick

Dating

There is something that is just so special about "firsts". Well, firsts that are done correctly, anyway. There's the anticipation. The excitement. The newness. It really does give you a lot to look forward to — and nothing exemplifies this more than a first date. And by "date, I mean date (check out "Have You Ever Wondered What Qualifies As A REAL Date?"). While there are different dynamics that can cause two people to decide to formally hang out with each other, what I'm gonna touch on today is the type of first date where you meet a guy and after a couple of conversations, you agree to go out with him in order to get to know him a little better.


If that is the category that you currently fall into, in order to know if he's worthy of a second date with you, here are 10 things that you should definitely, without hesitation or apology, check off of your "he looks like he could be a real keeper" list.

1. Timeliness

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An author by the name of Karen Joy Fowler once said, "Arriving late is a way of saying that your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you." I agree with this, wholeheartedly so. Whether late folks realize it or not, there is an arrogance that comes with them not showing up at the time they agreed to do so; it's basically them saying, "You should wait for me, simply because I said so." (Chile.)

I don't know about you, but I've had my fair share of ego maniacs on the dating tip. It's very difficult to build anything real and substantial with someone who acts like they are the prize while you are just barely worthy of them. That's why it's a huge red flag to me if, on the first date no less, a man shows up late. I don't care if he's meeting you somewhere or coming to pick you up, if he's trying to make a strong first impression, he will plan accordingly — even if it means showing up 15-20 minutes early…because he appreciates your time — and you — just that much.

2. Chivalry

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Before getting into this particular point, let me just say that chivalry is not a synonym for transactional nor is it a substitute word for entertaining "foodie calls". Where I'm going with this is there is some real bullshishery happening in society right now where a lot of women think that a man spending a ton of money on her is an act of chivalry. Uh-uh. Chivalry is a characteristic of a gentleman and while this can be somewhat based on how a person personally defines the word, I like what actor Michael B. Jordan said in a Vogue feature a few years back. Around the five-minute mark, he gets asked about his number one dating rule. His answer was, "Always pick up the tab, at first, anyway. And she never touches a doorknob." Agreed.

Typically, chivalry is associated with things like a man opening doors, picking up the phone to converse more than text (again, at first, at least), walking closer to the street side (as a way of protecting you) and walking you to your door at the end of a date. All of this said, I'm amazed by women who are cool with a guy honking the horn in her driveway (especially during the initial stages of dating) or who wants to go Dutch on a first date (if he asked you out, why does he want you to pay? There is not established mutuality on outings yet). Not because either of these things are "wrong" per se, so much as they lack chivalry. You know what they say — how things start often sets the tone for how they will continue. If you don't see chivalry in a man, out the gate, it'll be hard to just up and require for him to be gentleman-like down the road.

3. Politeness

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You can tell a lot about someone, based on how they treat the people around them. I'm not talking about the folks they know; I mean the ones they don't. While you're out on your first date, watch how he treats the service staff and even mere strangers. If you're in a restaurant, does he make eye contact with the server and also say "please" and "thank you"? If some women are behind the two of you as you're walking into a place, does he pause and hold the door open for them as well?

When it comes to you specifically, a guy who is polite is someone who won't get into your personal space without being invited. He also won't spend all of the time the two of you have together talking about himself. He will address you by the name that you requested (none of that pet name stuff on the first date unless the two of you have known each other for a while and you've stated that you're fine with it). He will let you complete your thoughts and not interrupt you. He won't be big on gossip as a way to spark up a conversation or to keep you engaged. Oh, and while you're saying, "preach" to your monitor, just remember that being polite has no gender bias. We should be that way while on dates too.

4. Manners

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There is a strictly platonic male friend that I have who I really do adore on a friendship level. Thing is, I try and keep us on the phone as much as possible because I borderline hate going out to eat with him. Not because he isn't a nice guy. Oftentimes he snatches the check before I can get to it too. It's because his table manners suck. Example? I don't know about y'all, but a pet peeve of mine is when someone wipes their mouth with a napkin and then just leaves it open on the table. Ugh. Who wants to see leftover food and spit on a paper product while trying to finish a meal? He's also pretty good for eating with his mouth open. It's all just too much of an unpleasant distraction — and that's being nice about it.

Another word for manners would be etiquette. This includes things like him putting his napkin on his lap, knowing what silverware to use, paying attention to his own body language (like looking at you as much as possible while the two of you are conversing), not expecting you to cover the tab (remember, we're talking about a first date here) and definitely keeping his phone out of view. Manners say a lot about a person. And that phone point brings me to my next point.

5. Full Attention

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On the manners tip, something else that comes along with that is not being rude. An example of being rude on a date is being distracted. That said, it really makes absolutely no sense why two people would agree to go on a date, for the purpose of getting to know each other better (because that's pretty much the definition of a first date), only to be in their phones the entire time. While I loathe an entitled mindset (one day, I'll get around to writing an article on that topic alone), what I do support is a woman knowing that her time and presence are valuable and if she decided to share it with someone, they should respect her enough to offer up their undivided attention.

You know, I work with a lot of married couples whose main gripe is that their partner doesn't give them enough of their attention; that they are constantly distracted by any and everything else. When it comes to first dates, it really can't be said enough that first impressions are everything. If while being out with a guy, he seems to only be somewhat into you, I'm not sure what is gonna change up the road. Just something to keep in mind.

6. Good Conversation

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Some people are shy. Some folks need time to warm up. Some folks have more boundaries than others. I totally get all of this. Still, if a guy asked you out on a date, a first date, he needs to know how to properly converse because how else are the two of you going to get to know each other better? He should be able to at least coherently comment on various topics, ask follow-up questions for clarity's sake and explain himself as well as he listens to you. This is imperative because, the reality is, even if the two of you "click" and this eventually turns into something that is long-lasting, there are going to be times (many times) when physical attraction and sexual compatibility aren't going to be enough. You both need to feel like you are engaging someone who communicates well. Dates 1-3 can reveal quite a bit where this is concerned.

7. Lack of Sexual Innuendos

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If the content that I wrote on this site isn't indication enough, my friends can certainly vouch for the fact that if anyone is down to talk about sex, on a regular and consistent basis, I would be that individual. Still, if I was on a first date with a guy and all he wanted to do was make sex-related references, not only would I find that off-putting as hell, the counselor in me would assume that he was "taking my temperature" to see how quickly he could get me into bed. Personally, I'm not a one-night stand or first date-sex kind of woman. Never have been. Yet even if you are, I would recommend that you be leery of a guy who mostly wants to talk about sex on a first date. Whether you realize it or not, at the very least, he's objectifying you and you deserve better and more. Plus, guys like that are corny and shallow AF. What could possibly be sexy or even appealing about that?

8. Affirmations

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I've shared before that one of my exes once said to me, "Your problem is you receive compliments like they are revelations rather than confirmations." I will never not find that to be profound. It's also a great way to drive home this particular point — for a couple of reasons.

One, when I say that someone should be affirming of you, what I mean is watch out for guys who like to use a lot of satire, backhanded compliments or cryptic language. While it's not the case across the board, sometimes what that reveals is they are a bit narcissistic (if there is such a thing as only being "kinda" one) or very arrogant. On the flip side, don't be impressed with a lot of flattery either; sometimes that is simply a form of mental and/or emotional manipulation; they will use it as a way to get you to lower your guard — meaning boundaries — so that they can get more than what you may have initially planned to offer them (on a first date).

No, what I mean when I say that a guy should be affirming on a first date is he should be very comfortable with stating what he appreciates about you, the good qualities that he notices and why he asked you out in the first place. It should come as second nature to him. A man who can easily and comfortably affirm tends to be someone who is confident, gracious and even optimistic. Those are always great qualities when it comes to being in a relationship with someone.

9. Self-Control

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OK. I know it might seem like when I say self-control, I'm referring to a man being able to keep his hands off of your gorgeous self until you are ready; however, hopefully, that is a given. No, what I mean is, a sign of maturity and great self-awareness is an individual who is able to do things like think before he speaks; not go overboard on the alcohol; not overreact when things don't go as planned; isn't overly-emotional in his responses, even to things that he vehemently disagrees with; show patience to those around him and yes, is willing to push the desire for immediate gratification back in order to just be in the moment and appreciate it.

You know, a glaring sign that someone has a lot of maturing to do is if they lack self-control. Think of a toddler. They will show out, no matter where they are, because they aren't mature at all; they are just growing out of their infant stage. Yeah, a lot of adults are babies on the inside, so if while you're out with a guy, he doesn't seem to have much self-awareness — or, where needed, self-restraint — proceed with caution. Grown women should be involved with grown men. Vice versa too.

10. Proper Follow-Up Communication

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Imagine. You agree to go out on a date with a guy. He's fine and some mo' fine. He is also a perfect gentleman. Everything about the date is straight out of a movie. The conversation is amazing and you can't remember the last time someone gave you literal butterflies. At the end of the date, he walks you to your door, takes your face into his hands and kisses you on your cheek or forehead (the forehead kiss!), then waits until you shut the door behind you. An hour later, he sends a text to let you know that he arrived home safely and you undress and go to bed, dreaming about what the future might hold — only to not hear from him the next day, the day after that or even the week after that.

Probably until the end of time, there are going to be debates about what the proper follow-up communication etiquette should be for a first date. My call on it is this — if someone really likes you and wants to see you again, he's going to let you know as soon as possible.

I'm not saying that he's now going to start acting like your boo or that you should expect him to. What I'm trying to convey is every guy in my life, whether he is single or married, speaks a lot about the intentionality of men. What they desire, they do not hesitate, they make it known. If a first date went amazingly well, "he" is gonna make damn sure that another is booked, much sooner than later. If your guy hasn't made that message clear, it's usually best to just chalk it up to a nice time and keep your options wide open. He would hit you up to prevent that from happening otherwise.

First dates can be a really good time. Purpose in your mind to relax, have fun and go with the flow — so long as that flow consists of these 10 points. Because you deserve for things to begin well. There is no room for debate on that.

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