By: E. Max Bonem Esq.

When I was in college my Dad always liked to keep tabs on my love life, which, depending on which year we’re talking about, ranged from anywhere between that of a 14th century monk to a ravenous bunny (oh college…), but what he never understood (and what I never really put too much thought into at the time) was the fact that I never went on dates. “How do you meet girls?” or “How do you shack up?” (yes, he’s from the generation that used a location instead of a foul in hockey to describe the no-pants dance). Of course, it was hard to explain how it was that such things transpired, but I think he figured out that I would just stand on the bar, rip my snap-button shirt open, and tell all of the women in the surrounding area that I was fertile and that they should admire my thriving beard (side note – to my best knowledge, this never happened, but for all of you who remember when FourLoko was legit, well, yeah…).

You see folks, most people I know didn’t go on dates in college. Usually you met those “special someones” by walking up to people from class and addressing the fact that, although you’d never talked to them before, you totally dug their sweet messenger bag or lip ring or some sh*t once you’d spent the better part of your night dabbling in dollar tequila shots.  Sure, there are certainly exceptions and I know plenty of folks who went on dates after they’d been seeing someone for a while, myself included, but rarely did you hear of a dude walking up to a girl at a bar and asking them if they’d like to go on a candle lit dinner for two (and when I say candle lit dinner for two, I mean mega-mug night at Red Brick, and when I say dinner, I mean enough beer to lead to questionable decisions, and when I say questionable decisions, I mean coitus).

However, times have changed friends and we here at The Bro Journey have stumbled upon an interesting predicament: how do you go on a proper first date in this day and age? Well, lucky for us, dear Matt is going to be doing just that later this week and we thought it would be fun for me to give him “advice” about how to successfully go on a first date with a gal.

"Max, how long do I wait before I unleash the Swagger Swim on her?"

Now folks, although I’ve had varying success with such things, I have had my fair share of first dates with many nice (and some terrible) young ladies and I can tell you that there are definitely some firm “dos” and “don’ts” that you should try to keep in mind. Also, Matt hasn’t been on a first date since ‘Nam so I’m his best bet at preventing the awkwardness and stumbling stew that IS a bad first date.

Ladies, THIS is single. Who knew?

So without further ado, I present The Man’s Guide to First Dates.

But first,

a few declaratives. Ok I’m aware that this will NOT apply to most people over the age of 25 and that almost everything here is pretty rudimentary, but I have yet to hit the point where I’m a salt’n’pepper encrusted billionaire trolling for college strange. THAT, my friends, is another (future) post.

Initial Follow-Up

In this day and age, we meet people in random situations (networking events, yoga classes, and amateur wood carving seminars are all valid options for instance), but that’s just the beginning. Facebook, Twitter, and online dating sites have all become completely “acceptable” methods for finding prospective mates and, as with so many other things in our lives, we’re very capable of experiencing information overload.

This friends is information overload.

We live in a crazy new world where you can find out a huge amount about a person before you even meet them. Most likely whoever it is you’re about to spend time with is on Facebook, possibly Twitter, and more often than not one of many other social networks (note – if there are questionable videos of you on YouTube, I might suggest removing them (you playing a cover of “Wonderwall” in a lightless room or doing a Superman-esque, table length beer pong dunk might’ve been cool/helped you get laid at some point, but believe it or not, women seem to become less impressed by such feats with age), unless they involve you teaching a baby to walk, saving puppies, or parasailing with Richard Branson, keep those), which means you have to decide how much you really want to know about them pre-date.

Heart warming interracial photo-op for the win!

Believe it or not, people make quick and strong opinions of you based on how you carry yourself on the Internet and, although hopefully this special lady digs your fascination with Ron Swanson videos and mocking/strong support of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, there are definitely many things that could turn your prospects south. Just know what sort of dirt is out there and decide for yourself if you want to search out the girl you just met or if you’d rather let it transpire pre-2005 style.

Dress Smart

I know this sounds simple, but take a second and think about what your first thought usually is when meeting up with a prospective mate, “Yep, I would totally hit that.” Now I know this sounds crude and piggish, but we all know it’s true – males and females alike. At our age, you decide very, VERY quickly if you want to sleep with someone and, although there are ways to dig yourself out of the not-looking-bangable hole, there are much simpler ways to ensure that you look both appetizing and interesting.

Basically, just look like this everyday forever.

The key thing is to make sure you wear something comfortable. There’s nothing worse than not feeling good just by sitting down or walking from the door to the table or the table to the bathroom or whatever. With that in mind though, dress confidently. Fellas, I know you want to wear your lucky ’95 Bulls’ jerseys with your college sweat pants or maybe just boxers, but remember – impression is everything on a first date. Obviously if you’ve spent any amount of time with this person before, whether that be at a bar, a farmer’s market, spinning class, or a pumpkin patch, then you might have some sort of inclination as to where you should shoot for on the bro-professional-hipster scale that seems to dictate how every man dresses in 2012(at least in the eyes of GQ).

Shoot for the opposite of this. And don't bring Sundy with you. Seriously, don't.

I know that all of you probably realize this, but members of the fairer sex notice the details of your appearance very closely. There are reasons why you (hopefully) have some nice clothes somewhere. You don’t need to be oxford-ing out in slacks and a tucked in button-up, but make sure you dress in a way that speaks to who you are (without telling them how you’ll be tomorrow). A little mystery is good, but not showing some of your personality in how you dress on a first date can lead to unfortunate shopping trips and needless expenditures. Yep, I just made dating sound like a scene out of Office Space. Booyah.

Oh and lastly, try to make a good guess about she might feel about facial hair. If you usually rock the baby face, stick with it. If you roll with a five-o’clock shadow, own it. If you’re a wooly mammoth and go hard in the paint with a sweet beard (you already know), then BRING it. However, if you decided to grow a mustache from the last time you saw her until the first date, I might suggest shaving it. Very rarely does the statue of liberty play work on the opening drive. Write that down.

Be Confident

First dates are naturally awkward. If they aren’t, you’ve either struck gold or stumbled upon a mad woman (or you’re just awesome, that’s always an option). Keep in mind though that the person sitting across from you is most likely just as nervous as you or possibly even more so (remember that handsome man who’s always staring back at you in the mirror? Well now he’s staring at her and he looks good.).

Seriously, where'd your shirt go?

Confidence, just as it does at so many other times in a young man’s life, can go a LONG way on a first date. If she doesn’t have a suggestion for a place to go, make a decision. Meeting time? Pull the trigger (not literally). It’s all about being sure of yourself and making her feel comfortable with you. Go with your gut and try not to over think your decision making ability – remember, you aren’t here to over analyze who you are as a man/companion/lover, you’re here to get to know this person who you were intrigued by for some reason. Also, let the conversation steer itself. If you’re a blunt and open person (whether it’s about politics, religion, sex, or whatever) and you feel comfortable enough with yourself and this person who you hardly know to bring up such personal stuff then feel free, let it fly. Worst thing that happens is that both of you will know very quickly that it’s not going to work. Well, that or you’ll get a drink thrown in your face (note – does that really happen? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?).

Make it Simple

Again, find an activity or location that will be comfortable and suited to both your personalities (to the best of your knowledge anyway). I’ve heard awesomely successful stories of first dates involving activities ranging from kayaking to seeing a comedy show to a wine tasting (although in some cases, things go a little too well, but more on that later). Whatever you do though, don’t try to fit a whole mess of activities into one first date. Avoid itineraries, wardrobe changes, and intermissions.

Depending on your style, your options could include: getting a cup of coffee, meeting for beers at a bar, going on a bike ride, having dinner, or (a personal favorite that is yet to be executed) putt-putt (the world’s most awesome mini-golf course is within half a mile of our hobbit hole in Austin AND it’s BYOB. Yes, that’ a thing). Above all else, make sure it’s an environment where you can hear each other well – first dates, if nothing else, are a time when you must be able to easily hear what the person with you has to say, even if none of it is true and they don’t plan on being honest with you until at least post-date number four (When do dates stop becoming dates? Is Dr. Ruth still around? I feel like she’d know).


Now assuming everything went well and she was totally cool with the fact that you have a blog that is documenting the very date that she just went on with you (along with pre and post game analysis), then we come to an interesting juncture. Over the years I’ve asked many people, both male and female, how long you have to wait before you have sex with someone. Answer: If you decide on an actual number that is cemented in your mind, than most likely you will be going on many’a first date in the coming years. Obviously many factors can go into this decision: how well do you know this person, do you think they’d be able to deal with having sex after only one date, how much have the two of you had to drink. Especially for those in cities with thriving mass transit, a casual first date can jump to past-buzzed shenanigans very quickly and, although it sounds tough, sometimes you really have to think about the decision that you’re about to make. With that in mind, why is it a big deal?

Ladies, how can you resist?

I know many, if not most, of you might not agree with me on this point, but what are you thinking about at least half the time while on a first date if not the idea of having sex with the person sitting across from you. You’ve spent however much time you have with them analyzing every aspect of them from their voice to their hair to their more feminine assets and they’ve been doing the same (accept with manly assets, I guess? Ay…). I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with having sex with someone on a first date (of course, this statement is highly situational and should NOT be considered and end-all, be-all) and, in some cases, I think it can actually help. Do I think that it can be better to wait and see? In some cases, sure, but sometimes, with a very certain type of person (insert your personal favorite degrading “skank” comment here), you just know. Just be an adult and don’t be stupid and nothing bad will happen. Oh and get tested because if you don’t, well, you know the drill.

Just give her this exact stare-down when you initially see her and you'll be GOLDEN.

Check in with us later in the week to see how my guidance helped Matty Ice fair on his conquest for love. Also, follow #awkloveoctagon on Twitter to see how Matt is fairing in REAL-TIME. It’s going to be a doozy.