This week I witnessed a truly god-awful date in the restaurant where I work, reminding me that not only have I not been on a date in an embarrassingly long time, but also of how painfully awkward they can be. The story is this: I was serving a couple who had met a few years ago, and had then been reunited on the dating app: Plenty of Fish (POF), the boy hand’t stopped pestering the girl for a date and eventually she gave in. I wasn’t fully aware of the situation until Nelson, our lovely barman, informed me that the female half of the date had been coming into the bar at every opportunity to get away from the male half and bitch about how awful he was. Before this discovery I had mistaken the fact that the couple were sat in silence, both on their phones, to mean they had been together for many many years and were bored of each other. When I went to take their payment, said boy scooted off, leaving the girl to pay their bill, and me and her to have a gossip. Apparently he was rude, arrogant, and both a conversation-ender and lazy conversation-maker, and to top it all off, had accepted her polite offer to pay the bill. This girl had been having such a bad time that Nelson had actually found her online on POF during the date itself, and sent her a cheeky “You’d have a much better time with me” message… time will tell if he makes a better impression.

This all got me thinking about the kinds of signs and tests that I use to decipher whether I’m with a decent guy or not. I think my main pet peeve is if they don’t get out of the car to greet you when they pick you up, or worse, if they can’t even look at you when you get in. If they get out of the car to say hello, firstly, you learn a lot about them: they are confident and polite, but secondly you can break the first-date-touching-barrier by having a european cheek-kiss-hug greeting. Another thing that riles me is if a boy orders their meal before you order yours, basic manners out the window. And then I started thinking, do boys have the same kind of bug bears, are there things that a girl could do on a date to completely put a boy off? So I went to a trusty group of males, and asked for their opinion.

It took a while to get a sensible answer but I think there are a few gems in here. I would also like to express that the views shared here are not my own, but that of a group of lovely young men who I work with.

Should you pay for your half of the date?

All the boys I spoke to unanimously agreed that although it is attractive for the girl to offer to pay, they would not let her pay for the first date. Apparently after a few dates it’s acceptable for the girl to pay, and she’s taking the piss if she hasn’t paid for anything by date number five. They didn’t really have a particular reason for this belief, just that it is the gentlemanly thing to do. Personally, I always offer to pay, but as sexist as it may sound I would be offended if they accepted my offer on the first date, as it shows they have low investment in you.

Conversation topics and strong views

Nelson’s main turn off was dates who were too opinionated and argumentative. This reminded me of a rule my parents have, never discuss: politics, money or religion at a dinner party, the reason being, it almost always ends in an argument. In the wise words of Nelson, “Dating is like a game of Guess Who, what if Mr Right has a little stubble, and you closed all the flaps with facial hair”. This tenuously linked metaphor is actually quite smart, if you close too many doors, you may miss a gem – what he means is, if you have a big row on your first date because you don’t agree on Trident, then you might not find out that he loves dogs even more than you, or would make you a mean fry up every sunday morning, or shares the same dream to travel South America one day. Side note: if he voted for Brexit, you’re allowed a first date row and are obliged to get rid, asap!

guess who

Keep your phone in your pocket

This is just basic manners, if you’re committing to go on a date with someone, you are committing to giving them your full attention for that time. And I’d like to add, looking at your phone does not make an awkward silence less awkward.

“Eating off my plate”

Should you sleep with or even kiss them?

At first the boys surprisingly all said no, no, don’t even kiss on a first date. Weird. But after I enquired further they changed their minds and said it depends on the girl: if they actually liked the girl in the first place kissing and sleeping with on the first date wouldn’t change their opinion. However, if they only dated her because they saw her as an easy lay in the first place, their opinion will stay the same.

Oh ,and unfortunately the old “I never do this” isn’t fooling anyone.

Don’t get too drunk

Definitely something I do all the time. It’s hard when half a glass of wine gets you tipsy though. Tip: Ensure you’ve eaten a full meal before any drinking dates.