Dear Coach:

I am new to gay dating and have my first date coming up soon. I’ve 
never been on a date with a man and there are a few things I’ve always 
wondered about. Who pays?

We met online and both drive at least an hour to reach each other, he 
drives further, so do I pay? Or do we pay for each other or ourselves? 
I am very confused about that! Also, do I bring him a gift to be 
romantic? We talk on the phone a lot and if I was dating a girl I 
would bring her a rose, but would that just be weird to bring a guy a 
flower or candies or something? I really like him and want to impress 
him! Do I pull his chair out? Or is that a little ridiculous? We have 
already stated no sex on the first date, but is a kiss okay? If I give 
him a kiss right when I approach him I think that sets the wrong tone, 
but I don’t want to seem like a prude either!

If you could put my mind at ease on these silly frivolous things, I would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks, Jittered


Dear Jittered:

Congrats on your date! How exciting!

I would imagine you have lots of nervous anticipation and it’s perfectly normal for you to be feeling all topsy-turvy. Enjoy these feel-good-feelings because it most certainly is a magical experience. However, I would encourage you to approach this first get-together as a “meeting” and not a “date”. If you’ve never gotten together in person and have only communicated via online or the telephone, face-to-face contacts sometimes can be quite different and you don’t want to get trapped in a situation where you’re stuck if things don’t mesh up. By viewing it as a “meeting” rather than a “date”, it also takes the pressure off and first meetings are usually best kept to a short encounter and one that is activity-oriented.

For example, good places to meet up might be a coffee shop or taking a walk through a park or zoo. Avoid going to the movies because that doesn’t afford much time to talk to each other and get to know one another. It’s usually a good idea to skip having a romantic dinner on the first meeting as well because even though you may have had some hot chemistry going on the phone, that may not transfer over to an in-person situation and then you’re stuck having a long intimate dinner with someone that becomes loaded with expectation when you’re just not “feeling it”; there’s nothing more awkward! Postpone the candle-lit dinner until after the first meeting to ensure that there truly is physical and emotional chemistry and that there appears to be some alignment with your personal requirements for a mate before putting yourself in such a position.

Perhaps the number one rule of dating etiquette is to be yourself! If you feel like holding the door open for him, then by all means go for it! But only if that’s the kind of guy you are…you want your behavior to be a genuine representation of your personality and character. Be true to yourself and behave in ways that are polite and show respect for your potential dating prospect. While our heterosexual counterparts have been socialized to behave according to subscribed roles, as gay men we do not have such guideposts to refer to so we have to make it up as we go along, and that’s why it’s best to show your authentic self from the get-go and let that be your reference point.

A lot of the things you do during your meeting will be dependent on reading the social cues and body language that is occurring in the exchanges between you and the other guy. For example, when I was dating, a guy with good manners and who was chivalrous like pulling a chair out or holding a door open scored major bonus points with me. However, other men might be put off by such actions and a masculinity tug-of-war could occur, so try to be mindful of how you think he might respond or react to such acts of kindness by how the tone of your interactions are going. And while it’s a nice thought and generous of you to consider bringing a gift on a first meeting, it is probably advisable to hold off on this until the relationship progresses a little further because this can scare many men off right away as they fear being suffocated or that premature intimacy is being rushed. Sometimes it can also look like you’re trying to impress him and “win him over”. It is not your job to get him to like you. He should like you for who you are, not for what you can do for him, so take the emphasis off of feeling like you have to be on a performance to prove your worth. Relax, and just enjoy spending time with him and getting to him better to see if he matches your personal requirements for you’re a partner and relationship.

Your no-sex agreement is a great idea as sex to soon often times can sexualize a relationship too soon before its had a chance to build its own solid foundation of friendship and trust; the relationship gets defined around sex instead of qualities of more substance and depth and can often times be responsible for ending a relationship before it’s had a chance to get off the ground. Kisses on a first meeting can be nice, but again will be dependent on how the flow of the get-together has been going and to gauge the level of interest, attraction, and chemistry that is or isn’t pumping between the two of you. There’s also no right or wrong answer with money; it’s more about what makes you feel comfortable. Many men go “dutch” on a first meeting; others have one paying and then the other pays the next time. Sometimes one guy does most of the “wining and dining.” Just go with what feels right for you and if you continue to see each other, you can talk more about this issue along with the others.

So enjoy your get-together with this new potential dating prospect and go with the flow. Rid yourself of all the “what-if” thoughts and just stay fully present in the moment when you’re with him. There’s no need to impress; just be yourself and let things evolve naturally and as they are meant to be and that will help minimize your jitters. You can create a favorable impression in the other guy’s mind of you by saying and doing things that make him feel good about himself, but only be genuine or you can come off looking like a “smooth-talker” or a fake. And rather than worrying about whether he likes you and wondering how he’s thinking the meeting is going, keep your thoughts centered on “living in the moment” so you won’t be distracted and keep your eyes peeled for indications of whether he would be a good match for you with your needs for an ideal boyfriend.

Have a great time, my friend! Get out of your head and just have fun! And just remember that you’re a good catch and you have nothing to prove! It will be one very lucky guy who recognizes that fact when he’s out with you! Good luck!

All my best!

(c) Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach

The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed.None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
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4 Responses to \'First Date Etiquette\'

  • On December 29, 09 at 12:29pm, steve said...

    This is all great advice. I’ve done it all. Never do dinner first. Then, if you don’t like him, you’re stuck rushing dinner and watching him slowly eat fish. Very painful. So coffee or a drink is good.

  • On April 18, 10 at 4:18pm, Funnybynautre said...

    I’m hetero,but I have always wondered that stuff too out of curiousity!

  • On May 16, 11 at 6:19pm, Joseph M said...

    This is Fantastics Advice! Well written and insightful!
    I really enjoyed reading, “While our heterosexual counterparts have been socialized to behave according to subscribed roles, as gay men we do not have such guideposts to refer to so we have to make it up as we go along, and that’s why it’s best to show your authentic self from the get-go and let that be your reference point”. So much truth.

  • On October 31, 11 at 3:57pm, Adrian said...

    Exellent advice even for those of us who are ‘starting over’ after a LTR! If I’d have seen it as a ‘meeting’ first maybe things would have been different between my ex and myself, though I wish him well… To quote a dating coach, ‘It’s just coffee!’…

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