On that list of “Things Single People Are Scared Of”—aka Why I am secretly afraid to get a dog:

Just something I come back to whenever I need to remind myself why I bother at all…

For better or worse, I like dating. The process of figuring someone out is fascinating. It’s also fun to have a reason to dress up a little and go new places and try new things. When it’s good, it’s good. However, it can be frustrating and, yeah, a little bit soul-crushing, especially when your mailbox is flooded with Save-the-Dates and your Facebook feed has magically become a giant baby picture album and oh! Look who else got engaged this week…

Apparently, being a sane, healthy, gainfully employed woman with a masters degree is a handicap in New York City. I’ve often been that person someone dates right before they meet their next long-term partner. That said, I’m wired for optimism, and my workaholic nature means giving up just isn’t an option, despite the sh!t that comes out of my mouth sometimes. If nothing else, I’ve had a wide range of experiences, complete with a few ridiculous stories, some good to offset the bad.

Since this is a food blog, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about staying well-fueled while playing the field. Granted, some of these are mainly applicable to ladies looking to find a suitable gentleman friend, but for the most part, they’re just common sense for anyone. Common sense some of us may have come to accept through learning the hard way, that is…

  • Eat a snack before heading out or stash something in your purse if you’re at all ambiguous about whether food will be involved. As my friend Ryk puts it, it’s hard to be sexy when you have low blood sugar. By this, I think he means that crankiness and dizzy/sweaty/shaky-ness are not exactly conducive to playing the get-to-know-you game.
  • One or two drinks max (and note: if tequila is not your drink, it will most likely still not be your drink on a random weekday night)
  • On a dinner date, order what you feel like eating, not what you think you should order. If you want salad, eat salad; if you want lobster tacos, go for it. Order what you’d order if you were out with a family member or friend you’re comfortable with or by yourself. Also, if he picked an expensive place, don’t automatically assume he’s going to pay, but do consider that it’s likely because he wanted to bring you there and show off his good taste and fat wallet. Because $$$ = inches or something? There are exceptions, of course. If his online dating profile name is something like Srching4Sugar_Mama, just say no.
  • On that note, let him pay on the first date. Old-fashioned, yes, but still applicable for a reason.
  • If your overwhelming thought is “That’s nice you want to hold my hand and all, but I really just want to eat this taco,” that’s probably a sign. Especially if it’s a first date. Am I just out of touch or is hand-holding on a first date a little weird?
  • Know your deal-breakers. For example, if you can’t stand eating in bed and you find a gentleman caller eating cold McNuggets (with BBQ sauce) in your bed while you are trying to sleep, tell him to take it to the table. Not that this has ever happened to me or anything…
  • Beware the man who drinks his dinner. This goes for booze, smoothies, and Master Cleanse-like concoctions. The exception to this one is a very attractive bartender I used to chat with about juicing (I was working on an article about it) who would work his way through a big green smoothie throughout his shift. Because I have a tendency to play it too cool/dumb, he probably thought our conversations really were just informal research to me.
  • Be upfront about food allergies. Always.
  • Never underestimate the awesomeness of the afternoon walk & talk. One of the best dates I ever had involved getting green juice and walking down by the river for a few hours. Never saw the guy again, but I had a great time.
  • Be open to being spontaneous. If you’re having a good time and he suggests grabbing a bite after finishing a drink, it’s oaky to say yes if you want to go. On the flip side, of course, don’t feel obligated. Listen to your gut. Your time is your time—no explanation or apology needed. Also, you could always be the one to suggest a change of scenery—no need to leave it up to the male of the species to dictate the course of the evening, you know?

What are some things you’ve learned about dating and eating? 

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