Guess what: you can freely use your phone on dates now! It’s totally OK. Just look around: everywhere, couples at lunch, dinner, and Taco Bell’s newest mealtime designation can be seen with iPhones and Galaxy S-Whatsits laid out on the table, giving off the impression that they have little more than a comprehensive data plan in common. Call it mutually assured distraction. And we’re at the point where everyone’s OK with it.
Of course, these cellular telephones can be damn helpful on dates. How should we get there? Google Maps. Who's that guy in that thing? IMDB. (It was Bill Fichtner, wasn’t it?) How do you want to split this? Venmo. Do you have anything to drink at your place? Uber.
But if everybody's using their phones, the way stand out is to... not. It's a dating pool, right? And the pool is lousy with other fish all perfectly comfortable floating through encounters, cellphones in hand. Then, along swims this shark, and sharks don’t use phones, and people are like, "DAMN, look at that shark. That shark really caught my eye. It’s not even using a phone! And also it’s a shark, but still."
I used to date a woman who was kind of short, and whose top bookcases were conspicuously empty. Whenever I walked in, I'd place my phone on the highest shelf where even 6ft 2in me couldn’t see it, and leave it there for the rest of the night, on silent. Now, I'm not saying this action alone translated directly into fornication. But it worked; she certainly noticed the gesture and figured I was a nicer guy for it. And then: fornication!
More and more, the chances are that if we're on a date at all, we arrived there thanks to our phone, via Tinder or FarmersOnly.com. It's even more likely that the terms of that encounter -- time, location, activity -- were arranged via text or email. We're all aware of exactly how technology helped get us to this (possibly) romantic moment, and that the next rendezvous is just a few keystrokes away -- for the person sitting across from us too.
So, if you glance flirtatiously over your Midori rocks only to find your date busy with their phone, they could simply be checking their work email or returning a text from mom. But, considering how you got there, you also can’t help but wonder if that person has already moved on emotionally, made the appropriate calculations, and is preparing to swipe right on someone with a slightly bigger tiger in their profile picture.
Not fiddling with your tech all evening assuages that insecurity in another person. It shows that you're present and interested in being with them in that moment, that you're unwilling to be yanked out of intimacy by the slightest fluctuation in cyberspace. Or, at least, that's how it appears -- which in the early stages of dating, is more than enough. So, Yelp that restaurant ahead of time. Memorize the route. Hail a cab with your actual arm. In the end, go hands-free for a change. It's hardly chivalry. But, in an age when everyone's got the same gazillion options right in their pockets, perhaps the sexiest thing you can do is limit yours.
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