It's like a job interview, only worse
Even when I’m out with a familiar face, I prefer to sit next to the person, rather than across from them. It's cozier, more intimate, and less confrontational. Bonus: it puts you in prime position to snag a bite off their plate before they can fight back.
Sitting across from someone in a one-on-one setting is far too reminiscent of an interview, especially given all the questions you'll be asking each other. Unless, of course, you're stuck in perpetual awkward silence, which is far, far worse. In fact, a lot of dating advice columns have pointed out the similarities between a first date and a job interview: in both cases, you're dressing up and trying to put your best foot forward in the hopes of securing a callback.
Realizing the connection, of course, only makes it seem that much more nerve-wracking. At least at the end of a job interview, you get to go home knowing you’ll never have to see that person again unless they actually liked you. Rarely will you get so lucky in the world of romance.
Nerves, of course, are part and parcel of a first date. So why would you want to put yourself in a situation that’ll just ramp up the anxiety even more?
Talk about being under pressure...
Let's say, for argument's sake, you actually like sitting across from people. Fine. But what about the comparison factor? First date dinners are such a cliché, it's nearly impossible to avoid thinking back to all the other times you took a guy or girl out to eat for the first time. Not to mention the quintillion dinner-date scenes Hollywood has managed to squeeze into every rom-com ever.
The thing is, the compare-and-contrast game is unwinnable. One of two things will inevitably happen: your brain will kindly dredge up the worst faux-pas you've ever committed and give you debilitating social anxiety, or you’ll think of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law chatting in a fancy French bistro and realize this date doesn't even come close. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself subconsciously struggling to either avoid the mistakes of the past or to measure up to impossible standards. Neither of these, of course, will accomplish anything besides adding extra pressure to an already stressful event.
Break the mold and opt for a better, more casual alternative. Consider mini golf, or a trip to the museum, or attending a local festival -- literally anything more creative and enjoyable than the nightmare of the first date dinner. The future yin to your yang will thank you for it.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Kim Berkley is a freelance writer who would rather just skip dinner and go straight to the movies, if that's alright with you. Feel free to ask her anything except out to eat via Twitter: @dreamwarrior13.