To eat or not to eat: first date jitters

Happy Endings / ABC Studios

On my first date with an ex-girlfriend I dropped a tomato loaded with ketchup down my white t-shirt. I think it really helped make a great first impression.

There is such a fear tied to first dates and the idea of going out somewhere to eat, especially for girls. There’s so much panic with “oh my god, can I eat a burger in front of this dude?” or, “should I stick to a salad?”

Truthfully, however, most of the time it’s pretty safe to say you can order whatever you want and no one is really going to care in the long run.

You don’t need to order something dainty and small to make it seem like you don’t have the power to eat an entire pizza and bag of chips by yourself. You know what you’re capable of doing.

This goes to show that a lot of the time it’s women who struggle with the first date eating jitters, but it’s just as real for the guys sometimes. More often than not it’s going to be ladies who have some reservations about mowing down on a big steak in front of this guy or girl that they’re meeting for the first time, but there are definitely times when men feel the same way.

If you were to Google it right now, the amount of BuzzFeed and Bustle articles you can find about what to order and what not to order on a first date is incredible, because people seriously panic about these kinds of things. Something as trivial as ordering dinner turns into a life-altering decision just because you’re trying to impress a new suitor and you don’t want to mess it up by ordering what could be considered the wrong type of food. Our society has really come to this.

But we all know once you get into a relationship it’s totally different and you and your partner will most likely have competitions to see who can eat more chicken wings or finish a burger the fastest.  Until then we’re subjected to suffering in our anxiety of what is okay to eat in front of other people we don’t yet know well enough. Why can’t life just be easy, right?

If it really causes you so much stress, pick something else for a first date. Go mini-putting or watch a movie. Go to a museum and walk around and just talk to one another. Literally do anything other than eat if you really want to avoid the dreaded decision. But know that you’re eventually going to have to eat in front of this person if you plan on pursuing any form of relationship with them.

A good way to get past the awkwardness, I find, is to joke about it first. If you’re texting and you bring up food somehow, it’s always great if you mention your crazy food skills and your ability to eat three McDoubles or an entire roll of cookie dough in a night. They might think you’re joking at first but at least you gave them ample warning as to what they’re getting themselves into.

Honestly, there shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of when it comes to eating on dates. Everyone eats, it’s not like it’s a big surprise and your date isn’t going to expect you to eat one leaf of lettuce and be stuffed.

You should always feel comfortable enough to be yourself, and if you’re not comfortable on a first date, maybe it isn’t really worth it. Go ahead and order some saucy chicken fingers and fries or a solid plate of spaghetti and meatballs, it’s your stomach, not theirs. But if you want to go for that Greek salad, power to you. It really doesn’t matter what you eat, your date is hopefully going to be more interested in you than what shows up on your plate.

So next time you get asked out, and whoever it may be suggests going out for a bite to eat, don’t freak out and start thinking of possible menu items that won’t look awful if you completely demolish them. You’re allowed to eat what you want. Who knows, your date might just be impressed. Professional eating is a sport, after all!

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