LOVE AFTER 60 – First-Date Etiquette

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.


“First-Date Etiquette


All right, let’s assume you’ve arranged to meet someone in person for the very first time and have very sensibly selected a public place such as a coffee house, restaurant, or library with a snack bar.  Regardless of where you’ve arranged to meet, ladies, I begin by urging you to allow the gentleman to call or contact you and make arrangements for that first date. 


Gentlemen, the old-fashioned etiquette still stands.  It’s still in good taste for you to take the initiative of inviting the lady out for your first meet-up. And when setting up your first date, consider the fact that lunch or coffee are more casual, less intimate, and less expensive than dinner.


So now if you’re meeting face-to-face for the first time, for goodness sakes please be considerate and not be late.  Otherwise you might raise your date’s anxiety level with that sinking feeling that you could end up being a no-show.  


     When you first meet, be your charming self and make every effort to exude confidence.  You must demonstrate a positive polite attitude and not appear to be all mixed up, out of sheer courtesy if nothing else.


     Also, you might casually mention at the beginning of your date that you have another commitment afterwards just in case you need a polite excuse to leave and end the date.


     Ladies, I recommend that you offer to pay for your own food or beverage but if your date insists on picking up your tab, I suggest you accept the offer, smile courteously, and say thank you.  Avoid rude behavior such as using profanity, getting drunk, flirting with others at the next table, or texting or talking on your cell phone.  In fact, your phone should be turned off when you meet so you avoid the interruption.


     Speak with confidence and not about the fact that you really feel like a nervous wreck inside!  Smile, be upbeat and pleasant, even if you happen to feel disappointed in your date.  And never talk on and on about your former mate, regardless of how wonderful you say they were (or how awful.) State the facts about your past, but be clear that you are now ready to open a new chapter in your life.


     Men, it is always gentlemanly to call the lady afterwards to thank her for meeting you.  Ladies, following the first date, please allow the man to take the initiative.   But if you liked him, it’s perfectly okay to send him a text or email saying that you enjoyed yourself.


     And use common sense, folks.  Never reveal personal information, such as the dollar amount of your pension, the fact that you own your home free and clear, or that you’re independently wealthy.  Even if you think you’re with the most trusted person in the world, never ever mix love and money, which means never float your date a loan!


     Avoid sharing too many family facts or personal identifying information which might make you or your family members a target.  And never get in the car with a man or woman on your first date.


If you give your phone number to a prospective candidate please be sure that your answering machine does not carry the voice of your former mate because the sound of his or her voice can be an instant turn-off or threat to someone calling you for the first time.  Think of it.  A newcomer might jump to conclusions and believe that either you already have a mate in residence with you or that you’re still emotionally attached to a former partner.


And while we’re at it, let’s discuss wedding bands.  To make it more comfortable for your prospective date, I recommend you avoid wearing a wedding band from a former spouse.  Or at least change it to a different finger so it looks similar to costume jewelry.  That way your date will still think of you as emotionally available.


     It is always wise to let a family member or close personal friend know where you’re meeting your date and to expect a call from you afterwards to assure them that you’re home safely.  Otherwise, they should try to find you.


     Never drink wine, beer, or alcohol on your first date with a stranger, lest they impair your judgment.  Keep your wits about you at all times.


     Adjust your expectations, if need be, so you will always be thought of and remembered as a kind person with a sense of humor.  Relax and try to enjoy yourself, no matter how disappointed you are.  And don’t romanticize about falling in love after only one date.  And never ever have sex on your first date unless you only have one week left to live.

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