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first-date, gender etiquette question


I hope this is the right board on which to post this question. And I apologize in advance for its rambling nature.

Recently I went on an online-dating-match first date. I am female, my date was male, and we're in our 30s. We had dinner at a nice but casual place. As we perused the menus, he asked what I was getting, and I said I wasn't sure yet (I'm incredibly indecisive). As is typical in this kind of dining banter, I then asked if he had decided, and he said yes and mentioned something about salmon.

It took me a bit longer, but I finally decided on one of their quiche selections. Happy about finally, FINALLY, coming to a decision, I announced "I think I'm getting the quiche!"

So I flag the waitress down and she comes over to take our orders. To be courteous, I always, regardless of whom I'm dining with, give the other person (or people) a chance to say their order first. I just don't like jumping in and hogging things and saying I'LL HAVE THIS! I don't know, it's just a general thing I do, where I purposely hesitate before doing or saying something for myself when others are also involved. The bottom line is I'm trying to be polite to my dining companions, whoever they may be.

So my date immediately jumps in and says "She'll have the quiche, and I'll have the salmon." And I was immediately... what exactly is the best way to describe how I felt? I think I was really quite taken aback by that. I hate to admit this -- please don't judge me, this was simply my emotional reaction that I could not control -- but I felt a bit ticked off that he'd decided to order for me.

It wasn't SO HORRIBLE that I showed any reaction, mind you. It was just a tiny, internal, mental, millisecond-long reaction I had that was easily swept under the rug. No big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially since he turned out to be a really decent guy.

But in that moment of purposeful hesitation, where I looked briefly at my date to allow him the chance to put in his order (or pass it back to me and let me order first), he completely took it the wrong way.

So ANYWAY, my question for this post is, why did he do this? The rest of the date went fine, and he never showed any other weird (to me) behaviors that were even remotely annoying. So days later, I find myself trying to brainstorm the many reasons and/or justifications for why someone would do this. What was he thinking when he chose to order for me?

OH -- also, the gallant-ordering-for-hislady act backfired slightly because when I'd mentioned I'd get "the quiche," it was obviously not intended as directions for what he would tell the waitress, it was just to be conversational and finally answer his question. And the menu had more than one quiche selection. So when the waitress hesitated after he said "She'll have the quiche," I had to quickly pipe in and say "quiche Lorraine." So if he thought he was saving me the trouble of ordering, he failed. That actually exacerbated the weird feeling I had about this whole thing; he couldn't even do whatever he intended to do correctly.

Anyway, any ideas on why he would do this and how he thought I would have received this gesture? I'm not very schooled in traditional American dining etiquette (I'm American, born and raised, but by immigrant Asian parents), so I don't know if this falls into that category or not -- though even if it did, it puzzles me as to why this guy did it because he seems otherwise to be a very "enlightened" modern guy, for lack of a better way to stereotype.

Thanks for reading this far and any brainstorming ideas you may have!

p.s. He also failed in the joyfully blasé ordering of his own food, as it turns out they didn't just have one salmon dish, so he had to turn back to the menu and look for the specific one he wanted. So it really was ordering failure times two, but I was more bothered that he assumed he could order for me.

  1. Many woman feel that is the correct thing to do. I prefer ordering for myself, but it's no biggie. I think you are making a bit more of this then need be. If you like the guy it's sort of a small thing to hold against him. I'm sure he was just trying to be a gentleman.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mother of four

      Agree he was trying to be a gentleman. I'm from the south, so this is not unusual. Perhaps since he did not realize there was more than one salmon choice, he did not notice there was more than one quiche choice. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. Extra credit if he held the door/pulled out your chair for you.

      1. re: Mother of four

        Yeah, you're right. And no, I'm definitely not holding it against him; if anything, I am dying to ask him directly why he did this (on our next date), but thankfully I have just enough grace (this week, at least, heh) not to do so. So out of curiosity, I decided to turn to all you wonderful Chowhounders for more background info on this.

        1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

          ... only do that if he orders for you again. maybe he was just nervous.

          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

            I'm a little under 30(and also from the south, but that would be off-putting to me too) and I would probably remedy it by just not telling him what I plan to order or that I am deciding between x, y, and z. This is usually the case for me anyway though, I have a few choices in mind but don't make a final decision until it's time to order.

        2. I do not see anything wrong with that. Seems like he was trying to be a gentleman and perhaps use the manners he was taught. Did it make or break the date, are you looking for something "wrong"? Relax, it was just ordering your meal for you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JEN10

            It definitely didn't break the date; it was, if anything, a mere blip on the radar. I really do like him, and maybe this little bit contrasted so greatly with everything else that went on that evening, it stood out. What compelled me to post this question was more curiosity than anything else, I guess, over the motivation of the gesture, as it was completely unknown to me at the time.

          2. It seems to me that it's like a situation where if the two of you came to a door, and you paused instead of reaching for the handle, he would probably assume that you were pausing to give him time and space to be chivalrous and open it for you. The old custom of a man placing a woman's order (not "ordering for you" in the sense of picking out what you would eat) is something that modern women might not expect, or might even chafe against. But if each party were to place their own order, most well-mannered men would presume to let the lady go first, and when confronted with a pause, he would have no way of knowing that you have a little personal habit of never ordering first. His behavior sounds polite, not paternalistic in the way it might be for someone to presume to select your food. But then again, Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes have surely dumped people for less!

            1 Reply
            1. re: swimmom

              hee hee hee on the Seinfeld reference... and also, thanks for your input, swimmom -- I think your analogy with opening doors helped me see this in a better light. And yes, I agree his action wasn't pateralistic, even if it did rub me the wrong way. I think it's just my complete ignorance of the existence of this particular aspect of gentlemanly courtesy (as opposed to, say, holding open a door or pulling out a chair, which I am completely familiar with) that really threw me for a loop.

            2. I see it as he would have deferred to you to order first, you being the lady of the party, and when you didn't order first but looked at him, he took it as his cue to be the man and do the talking. So maybe you threw him off by not going first!

              As for not knowing there were two salmon dishes, many people don't really read the whole menu through, they do more of a keyword search: quail, no - pasta, no - oh salmon I like salmon I'm sure whatever it comes with is good.... I'm one of those people who has to read every word on the menu and weigh the pros and cons of the sides and garnishes, others can just pick their main component and be happy with whatever and don't get why it's taking me so long.

              1 Reply
              1. re: babette feasts

                You're right, you're absolutely right, babette. I like how you sketched out a possible point of view from his position. It all sounds so simple now that you've laid it out like that! In my hyper-analytical mental frenzy, I just couldn't do this on my own!

                Oh, and yeah, I'm totally like you when it comes to reading menus -- I think Sally in "When Harry Met Sally" is one quick way to summarize me when I'm at my worst.

              2. Is he newly re-entering the dating game, or just a fella who doesn't go on many dates? I'd bet he was just thinking that it was a 'classy' thing to do, didn't read you particularly well, and was a little over-anxious to impress.

                It backfired of course. But I wouldn't hold it against the guy if he seems reasonable otherwise. Just tell him politely that you prefer to order for yourself. If he gets pissy about it, good riddance. If he's an otherwise nice guy who was just naively trying to impress you, he'll learn.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Interesting that you pose this question, cowboyardee (I love typing everybody's names on Chowhound), because I think he indeed doesn't go on many dates. And what you surmise about him totally makes sense to me. The funny thing is, I think he's about as neurotic as I am, and together we could potentially create multiple layers of meta-neurosis and hyper-self-consciousness (or is that all redundant babblspeak?).

                  Anyway, it didn't backfire enough, since I'm going to see him again in less than 24 hours in a non-food/drinks setting. I'm still wondering if I should ever ask him about this or not. He seems like he'd totally be game for a discussion but I don't want to make him feel bad.

                  1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                    I would say don't bring it up for discussion. Especially if you ever want to hear from him again.

                    1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                      I would bring it up only if it becomes a serious, monogamous relationship where you are at the point of having inside jokes and the like.

                      I generally order for my husband......the main reason is he sucks (as does our daughter) at ordering. I know, it seems like someone who is an expert witness in court on a regular basis could order a simple meal (and our daughter is a dentist) but they add a lot of unnecessary commentary and ask questions that have nothing to do with what they order and expect the server to know what they mean as opposed to what they say.

                      Sorry for the tangent, and obviously being your first date that wasn't the case, but an example of how things you learn about someone early in the relationship become inside jokes.

                      My husband is still baffled as to why my order is never wrong and his is on a significant basis when I don't order.

                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                        hahahahaha, oh my god, Janet, you're hilarious!!

                  2. Ordering for the woman is an old style etiquette. The woman talked to the man, the man talked to the waiter, and I'm assuming if there were questions, the waiter asked the man, he passed the question on to the woman and then back.

                    Personally, this would turn me off on a date. I tend to dislike gender based etiquette, and it would set off warning flags that this was someone who might not share the same values I do. (And no, I don't expect the guy to pay for everything :-))

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                      I'm totally with you. In fact, by pure coincidence I'd left a somewhat lengthy and emphatic comment in the latest Chow Miss Manners/Helena (whatever that column is called) article about the expectations for men to pay on the first date.

                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        It is old style etiquette but we were raised to ask our dad for everything at a restaurant and we were NOT allowed to ask for anything except through our dad. When I first started dating I always told my date what I had chosen, some guys were not taken aback and others were a little confused at first. It's no big deal either way.

                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                          I am a feminist who is allergic to any kind of male paternalism and I think you are being too harsh, tastesgoodwhatisit. Many men have simply been raised to believe that doing these kinds of things is how you show a woman respect. They don't analyze the assumptions behind these customs, they just do them because they're trying to be respectful. It's a good instinct and, in my experience, it doesn't have much bearing on a man's views on women and gender equality etc. There are men who do this who are very egalitarian and men who don't do this who are very sexist. Buttermarblepopcorn, If he continues to do things like this and you don't like it, at that point, I would simply say (nicely) that chivalry ain't your thing and it makes you a little uncomfortable, even though you appreciate his intentions. But for pity's sake, give this poor guy a break! You are dissecting his actions waaaaay too much. As others have said, he probably took your silence as a cue to order for you. He was probably nervous and trying to do what you wanted him to do and simply made a mistake in interpreting your signals. Everybody does it. And "ordering wrong?" Really, go easy on the poor guy. You liked him. Trust your instincts.

                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            Reminds me of my honeymoon, so very long ago. We did a month, traveling throughout Mexico. My young wife, was olive complected, with long, dark hair, and usually a crucifix. Every waiter assumed that she was Mexican (though she was French-Indian), and spoke to her directly. Other than a very few medical terms, she spoke no Spanish, while I did. I always ordered for her, but they always spoke directly to her. I felt a bit like a ventriloquist, as they would talk to her, but then I would answer. Sort of like Señor Wences. They could just not grasp that she could not speak Spanish, and then I, the gringo, could, and did. Got us by for almost a month, and all she picked up was "gracias"

                            Sometimes, a gentleman must do, what a gentleman must do.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              aww Hunt, anyone who can employ a Señor Wences mention is aces in my book.

                              1. re: hill food

                                Well, that "ees sau-rite" with me... [Grin]

                                Just so that the much younger crowd, does not think that this is some "inside joke," Señor Wences: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEio4r...

                                In Hill Food's case, obviously parents told stories of the old Ed Sullivan Show.


                          2. I think that you are over analyzing this and from what you described, he seems to be a very nice and chivalrous gentleman. (Notice I said "gentleman" and not "guy") Not all acts of chivalry have to be taken as sexist or derogatory. It's sad that our culture views chivalry that way today. I do understand your initial reaction though- because most men today are simply clueless as to how to treat a lady. Don't get me wrong- I'm not saying that men should always order for their dates, and if my husband had done that when we were dating too much I would've been perturbed after a while as well. However, it was the thought that counts in my book. Trust me- I've dated more than I'd like to admit from the online and real world; a chivalrous man is hard to find. *Let us know how the 2nd date goes!

                            1. WOW! All I can say about this, is, I'm darn happy I've been married so long and God forbid I ever have to go back to dating. If my husband ordered for me, I'd fall over in complete surprise. Lord knows, he could order for me when I mentioned what I wanted because he knows I want steak this way or that, he knows what I'm going to have for a side order etc.... We've been married so long, half the time I order for HIM because I just know what he's getting at certain places. It's actually a long running joke with us.

                              However, back to the point at hand, I think he was just trying to be a gentleman. I don't recall if you posted it or not, but age may make a difference in both your feelings and how he was raised. Could that have been a factor?

                              1. He stifled your VOICE! He denied your AGENCY! DTMFA and liberate yourself from this emotionally abusive relationship. Spread your wings and soar, sister!

                                Yes, I am joking. Yes, I think his behavior was unusual and suggests that he has not sufficiently examined the latent, internalized sexism that we were all saddled with as part of our shared Western/European/North American/whatever culture. Given the choice between someone like that and someone who has over-examined this and over-compensates for it… I choose your guy.

                                That said, I am imagining him stumbling across your message here and reading your faintly mocking portrayal of him and realizing the amount of time and thought you have evidently chosen to put into analyzing this 15-20 seconds of your lives, and I am wondering if he would still choose you.

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                  "That said, I am imagining him stumbling across your message here and reading your faintly mocking portrayal of him and realizing the amount of time and thought you have evidently chosen to put into analyzing this 15-20 seconds of your lives, and I am wondering if he would still choose you."

                                  Gotta agree that this went through my head, too.

                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                    very funny, I agree with you!

                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                      DeppityDawg, ITA but you stated it in a much more polite way than I could have.

                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                        Couldn't have said it better, DD...

                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                          I have to say, the same exact thought entered my mind (about him accidentally stumbling across this post) and still hasn't left.

                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                            Hahahaha!!! Indeed.
                                            Mind you, I disagree that his behavior was "unusual".

                                            "That said, I am imagining him stumbling across your message here and reading your faintly mocking portrayal of him and realizing the amount of time and thought you have evidently chosen to put into analyzing this 15-20 seconds of your lives, and I am wondering if he would still choose you."
                                            HEH. That especially.

                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                              Or, he might be a renaissance man, trapped in today, when he would have been more comfortable in an earlier time, and place.

                                              Though out of the "dating scene" for almost half a century, I would likely have been just as guilty, plus I would have held the OP's chair for her, and would have stood, when she left the table, and when she returned.

                                              That was just the way that it was - way back when.


                                                1. re: donovt

                                                  Others have made similar comments. [Grin]


                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  I don't think that they do the chair bit and the standing up anymore. Life is not what it used to be, you were just nice guy with manners! If the guy stood up now she would most likely think he was either following her into the restroom or skipping out on the date!!!

                                                  1. re: Mother of four

                                                    I don't think that they do the chair bit and the standing up anymore.

                                                    l do and always have.

                                                    1. re: Mother of four

                                                      That is the prices that we "dinosaurs" pay.


                                                        1. re: Mother of four

                                                          Hey, I admitted that going in. You almost act surprised?


                                                3. It's old school manners -- pretty rare to find. By deferring to him, you opened the door for him to assume you wanted him to order for you. It's pretty unusual for a server to NOT ask the lady what she wants, first, so when you deferred to him, you were pretty much telling him "no, go ahead and order for me" You can't expect the guy to read your mind, especially on the first date.

                                                  As far as the salmon "fail" -- maybe he was reading the menu, saw the salmon, decided it sounded good, and didn't read any further.

                                                  Neither are a fail IMO...although hyperananalyzing every second of the date (and judging him for it) would be a good habit to break. Now.

                                                  1. I think it's just more efficient for one person to put in the order. One-on-one communication is just much simpler/easier. That said, I also think that the person that makes contact with the server should put in the order. Since you're the one that initiated contact, I think you should have been the one to make the order. To me, what your date did was the equivalent to interrupting a conversation.

                                                    1. Playing devil's advocate.....waiting to see his post on the first date who was incredibly indecisive ;-) That would annoy me more (I admit I am less than patient with indecisive people....my older brother, who I adore, is the world's worst) than him ordering for me.

                                                      1. I'd find it odd, personally. I understand that some people see it as a well-mannered gesture but I guess I'm not one of them.

                                                        But frankly, I kind of find your hesitation to order first (seeing that act as "jumping in" and "hogging") more odd. I can completely understand, in this scenario, why the guy might have though "oh shit, does she want *me* to order for her?

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                          Since we're grossly over-analyzing here, I would suggest that this has something to do with the OP being an Asian-American woman. I've watched the Joy Luck Club, I know that Asian-American women are too often brought up to display an "everyone else first, me last" attitude. So their lives are a series of moments of purposeful hesitation, which the rest of us are doomed to completely take the wrong way from time to time. (Hint: They actually, secretly expect you to pass it back to them, because after all, like everyone else, they really want to go first.)

                                                          Anyway, they are quite taken aback when someone drops the ball like that. On second thought, in fact, it ticks them off a bit. Thankfully, they manage to sweep all signs of any sincere reaction under the rug in the moment and just bad-mouth the person after the fact on the Internet.

                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                            I'm an Asian American woman, DD, and I had to laugh because you hit that nail right on it's head with a sledgehammer.

                                                            All gleaned from a viewing of the Joy Luck Club. You're a hoot.

                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                              Believe me, that movie is a gross over-generalization.

                                                              1. re: chezwhitey

                                                                I never saw it, but did read it and I'm sorry while I'm a WASPY type I felt it WAS kinda stereotype-y. heartfelt, but oversimplified.

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                And even if order for a woman is this guy's standard MO, there's nothing wrong with saying on a subsequent date (if there is one) "you know, I really prefer to order for myself".

                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                  well, exactly...how's the guy supposed to know if you don't say something (nicely, please!)

                                                            2. It used to be good manners for a man to order for the woman. A lot of things that seem really strange and sexist today used to be good manners, though. I would think it weird too. I think it's generally considered good manners to let the women order first, though.

                                                              1. I would only be upset if you said you wanted quiche and he ordered you a steak.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. Most everything I want to say has already been said except this seems like something I noted when I was in Grad School in the '70s. What I had been taught as good manners was now/then being called sexism. I still struggle with that.

                                                                  Question for the OP - when you didn't respond to the waiter what did you expect your companion to do??

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: rich in stl

                                                                    She says she hesitated purposefully and looked at her date "to allow him the chance to put in his order (or pass it back to me and let me order first)". Fair enough.

                                                                    What is the date thinking at this point? "We're both ready to order and my date has just flagged the waitress down. The waitress is here and is waiting for my date to order first. Not because the waitress is a closet sexist, but because my date is the one who flagged her down. But now my date is not saying anything and looking at me. The waitress is still waiting to find out what my date wants for dinner. My date is still not saying anything. Now the waitress is looking at me, because she thinks, OK, maybe this guy knows what this woman wanted to say to me. And as it happens, I _do_ know, or at least I think I know, because she just told me. She's _still_ not saying anything, and looking at me expectantly, so I guess I'm supposed to order for both of us then? Well, here goes. I wonder if she's always like this?"

                                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                      That's what I noticed as well. And I would go as far to say that I probably would not flag down a waitress on a first date, AND as a female I wouldn't expect my date to turn attention back to me to place my own order.

                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg


                                                                        It's also his first date with her (let alone his first date). What, he is expected to read her mind and know what she wants right off the bat?

                                                                        A couple I knew very well used to get into arguments because the wife would say she "didn't care" when asked where she wanted to go for dinner by the husband, then start sulking because he said "OK, let's go to this place"... He yelled back once something along the lines of how was he supposed to know she didn't want to go there (that night)(especially when they have gone there before), was he supposed to read her mind, etc etc.

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          LOL! Sort of sounds like my DH and me...since I have to think up the menus every night ,when we go out I would just like him to say "How about going to such and such for dinner tonight". Knowing that it is a restaurant I really enjoy. Then again, maybe I'm not in the mood for that food!! I tell you we women are too much...sorry guys, but we are women, you know how that goes!!

                                                                      2. as a server in formal settings, I was always trained that the oldest woman (or only woman) at the table orders first and you go around from there.
                                                                        it may make people uncomfortable if you are the only woman at the table and you don't order first, it is not jumping in or hogging- it is following a socially accepted norm, which, like stoplights, help us all know what to do. When you break the norm, confusion may ensue. :)

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: nummanumma

                                                                          my first thought was that maybe the male date was a former server, who is aware that any server will attempt to take the lady's order first, and he was just trying to keep ONE person (the server) out of the 3 of you at the table, from awkwardly falling all over themselves, and so he committed the horrible, unintentional ordering faux pas. . . lol :)

                                                                          chances are, he really didn't know what to do. imo, he gets good marks for bravery and proceeding intrepidly, and committing to a course of action once embarked. he might be a great companion for the indecisive op, come to think on it. or they may eventually drive each other batshit, what do i know?

                                                                          give the guy a break and get to know him a little better. you were both nervous and he just did what he thought you wanted him to do. the fact that he's not a psychic ping-pong player probably also means he's not trying to manipulate or "smooth" you, right?

                                                                        2. I appreciate the huge influx of responses, both sweetly helpful and blisteringly scathing. I agree that my post can seem mean, and it is partly because I was momentarily very turned off by his gesture that didn't go so smoothly either.

                                                                          But if I can't be honest in my original post, then what's the point of asking my question to you all, right? As I had already written in response to someone else's remark trying to use the clichéd insult of "no wonder she's still single," my OP was a reflection of my innermost thoughts and confusion that I hoped people on Chowhound could help elucidate for me. And I'm grateful that you all have, so thank you. And I'm not saying that judging *me* is disallowed, either; the honesty should run both ways. But while my honesty (perhaps laced with some judgment) was serving to find the answer to a question (i.e., why did he do that?), the casually dispatched insults and passings of judgment on me had no other purpose than to put me in my place and shake me by the shoulders to tell me what a bad person I am.

                                                                          I wrote this at the risk of further inflaming passions negatively towards me, but as the neurotic hyper-analyzer I've portrayed myself to be on here, I felt I had to respond with a follow-up.

                                                                          Incidentally, I'm pasting a self-defense I'd written in the midst of this thread that may go unseen, but which I'd like responders to keep in mind as they wield their sharpened e-pens:

                                                                          "Besides, if anyone allowed their own internal, nearly subconscious thoughts to be aired out loud on the internet in typed-out words, I wouldn't be surprised they would often sound like my original post. The only reason I did this is because of the initial jolt I felt, then followed by curiosity since this particular gesture I'd never heard of before. That's what the internet is good for -- to plumb the depths of ourselves in a public but anonymous forum, inviting others to submit their thoughts.

                                                                          If the internet didn't exist, I wouldn't know half the trivia I know now, and if Chowhound didn't exist, I would simply have buried this whole thing and moved on without a third thought."

                                                                          Thank you.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                            You're a good sport, bmp. Thanks for an interesting thread.

                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                              Agreed. It's a tough-love crowd here, for certain. It sometimes reminds me of the adage that it takes something as rough as sandpaper to make things smooth.

                                                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                Thanks, DeppityDawg. I think perhaps my problem was taking the relative anonymity of Chowhound's boards a little too liberally, and treating it like my best friend. This was probably a question better suited for a personal friend or confidant, to whom I could discuss various points in real time, back and forth, without seeing the ugly words displayed near-permanently on a page. I imagine that if I'd simply posed this question to any of the above responders in person, whispered naively in your ear, including the passing judgmental comments made on the guy, I wouldn't get nearly the amount of flak I have. The only reason I didn't ask a friend and chose Chowhound instead was that I felt it was the perfect forum, content-wise, for it. Whom better to ask about dining etiquette than Chowhounds, right?

                                                                            2. "But in that moment of purposeful hesitation, where I looked briefly at my date to allow him the chance to put in his order (or pass it back to me and let me order first), he completely took it the wrong way."

                                                                              He didn't take it the wrong way, he took it the only way he could. You briefly glanced at him and gave him the "pregnant pause." Now, look at it from his p.o.v.; "I am on a first date with a woman and she is looking at me like she wants me to order for the two us. Okay, let me be a gentleman and do the right thing." How would he know your little quirk about letting everyone place their orders before you place yours? He isn't the Amazing Kreskin! He can't read your mind. He's a man and he has no idea what you are thinking. We never do. (The hardest thing in this world is trying to read a woman's mind. It's one of the many advantages a woman has over a man.)

                                                                              He was a guy... ON A FIRST DATE... and was a little nervous! So he did what he thought was the gentlemanly thing to do and what YOU wanted him to do. Your glance and pregnant pause nudged him in that direction, whether that was your intent or not. He certainly was not going to order first. That isn't what a man is taught to do. But what if he had done it your way and ordered first? You would be writing us about how some dumb guy had the nerve to order first! Really? Isn't that what you wanted him to do... order first (or throw it back to you)? He had no clue. Mixed signals.

                                                                              "OH -- also, the gallant-ordering-for-hislady act backfired slightly because when I'd mentioned I'd get "the quiche," it was obviously not intended as directions for what he would tell the waitress, it was just to be conversational and finally answer his question. And the menu had more than one quiche selection."

                                                                              And he knew this how? Again, he isn't the amazing Kreskin. He's a guy... on a first date... a little bit nervous... and he didn't bother to think that there might be more than one quiche on the menu. Heck, he didn't even know there was more than one type of salmon dish, now did he? He was nervous, that's all.

                                                                              Had he been a little more savvy, he would have opened his menu, glanced at the quiche selections, asked you which one you wanted and then would have asked the question, "Would you like for me to order for the two of us, or would you like to order yourself?" He didn't. Really no big deal.

                                                                              Your quirk of how you like to order is where the trouble started. But again, it's NO BIG DEAL. It's one of those memorable moments that you will remember when you get older. Who knows, maybe it works out between you two and you become a hot item. You'll look back on this moment and laugh.

                                                                              If I had been in your shoes, I would have come clean with the ordering Faux Pas and told him exactly what you told us. I bet he would have laughed with relief. As it is now, he went home thinking he messed up something as easy as ordering dinner. When you see him on your next date, work it into the conversation and let him know about your little quirk. I guarantee you he will laugh and tell you how relieved he is to hear about that.

                                                                              Remember, a man can't read your mind. Even after knowing you for several years, we are usually somewhere out in the weeds when it comes to your thoughts. So help us out when it appears we aren't reading your signals too clearly. We'll eventually catch on to your cute little quirks. Even the Amazing Kreskin needs help once in awhile. (SMILE)

                                                                              Best of luck on your next date.

                                                                              1. could be he was so nervous he was 1. about to jump out of his skin and so 2. he couldn't focus on the menu enough to notice there were multiple variations. if this is the case take it as a compliment that you drive him to distraction. to echo veggo and geneva, while in law ignorance is no excuse, but in personal relations you can't hold someone you've barely met accountable for little mis-reads/steps. good luck on the next date!

                                                                                1. I'd be pissed if I was (1) female and (2) my male date placed my order with the waiter.

                                                                                  But then I also expect the girl to pay for dinner if she asks me out on a date.

                                                                                  1. I don't have a problem with what he did...I think he was just trying to be polite and be a gentleman. I am usually pretty indecisive when it comes to ordering, especially if it's someplace I've never been or I am not craving anything specific. Heck..sometimes I think it would nice at the end of a long day or week to have someone make the decision for me entirely.

                                                                                    1. <What was he thinking when he chose to order for me?>

                                                                                      Just a guess, 'cause my psychic powers aren't very strong, but probably something like "this woman is sitting there like a deer in the headlights, and someone needs to say something before the server gives up and wanders off."

                                                                                      1. Trying to get back to the question from the current 'Is she at fault' stuff. l am a male of a certain age who has always opened car doors, pulled out chairs and still even stands when a woman comes or leaves the table in a restaurant or public setting. l stopped ordering for dates a long time ago as with everything else in our life, nothing is simple. Does she want the steak Pittsburghed, does she want salad dressing on the side, are there nuts on the entree ? Way too many chances for difficulty and messups. Perhaps l see it this way as l am VERY specific in ordering and probably would prefer a date who is as well. Thus if she says, the salmon, not caring if King or Copper River, degree of doneness, or the style of preparation, our food discussions are probably not going to be lengthy. Thus a chowhound needs me and in reverse, l need a chowhound, happily ordering for ourselves right down to outsides of bread only, please.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                          Back to the OP's first-date situation…
                                                                                          I have had the ordering thing figured out. On a first date, I would order my own food, which I would tell my date, then he would order for me. :-)

                                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                                            That was how it was most often done - once upon a time.


                                                                                          2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                            Your use of Pittsburghed as a verb made me laugh out loud.
                                                                                            Right now I am thinking of other major cities to use as verbs.

                                                                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                              Shanghai'd - sung well by J.J. Cale.

                                                                                          3. Take it as a good sign. I'd agree with others that say he was trying to be polite. When I take my wife out to dinner, I try to treat her like a queen (usually dinner out is now only for special occasions) and make sure I get the door for her, and make sure that our server extends the same level of courtesy to her. I will order for her after she decides what she wants, make sure it was prepared to her liking, etc. I would do the same for my mother as well. It's just what I feel being a "gentleman" entails. Right or wrong. Besides.....first dates are tough for anyone. Give him credit for trying even if he made a slight error.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. Thanks for taking us thru the whole date. He was rude and insensitive to do this. If the rest of the date went well, then I would let this slip-up go.

                                                                                              1. he was trying to be nice.

                                                                                                1. agree with everyone who said give him a break, he was just being nice. you didn't give him much choice, he panicked, he ordered what you told him you wanted. being bothered by this for more than 5 minutes seems to me a little excessive. no, you're not a bad person, as you said some of the replies here have made you feel, but you may be a little overly critical. there was no failure on his part. he was just being helpful. i mean, sorry, but you put him in an awkward position! he lets you go first, as a gentleman usually does (that's just the way our society is, i don't feel it's sexist - it's just food!), you don't answer but just look at him, he thinks it can't possibly be that she wants me to just order my own food, since she already told me she knows what she wants, so he assumes you wanted him to order for you. i'm not being mean or nasty when i say you caused this situation, and you can't really blame the guy. i would also not say anything to him (until you're well into the relationship, if it still bugs you - and if it does..... well, maybe the poor guy should be warned!) because that would just make him feel like he did something wrong.

                                                                                                  1. Seriously, I just embarked on the on-line/match dating thing myself, and if this is the worst behavior the guy displayed during your first date, you should really marry him tomorrow. Or give him my number, and I will.
                                                                                                    It sure beats the cop with small-man issues, and the dude who brought two bottles of wine to meet me on a park bench. (Two bottles! On a first, not-even-really-a-date...who does that?).

                                                                                                    1. I don't think this was weird, just uncommon. And he probably did it because you took longer to decide (you said you were indecisive) than he thought you should have, and maybe he just wanted to get the meal on the fire. So if he has a flaw, I'm guessing it's impatience. Or maybe he was just really hungry.

                                                                                                      1. I'd hate to be the guy who offers you cab fare.

                                                                                                        1. you're getting replies all over the spectrum because we don't know enough. you describe the incident as well as can be expected, but there can be some subtle stuff, for example:

                                                                                                          - did you flag the server enthusiastically and with initiative, or only because you were being ignored for a few minutes? goes to how much expectation there is for you to speak first.

                                                                                                          - for how long did you purposefully hesitate? goes to whether someone might become uncomfortable with the silence.

                                                                                                          - did you make eye contact or otherwise cue him during the pause, or were your eyes down and looking in the menu? goes to whether the opportunity to speak was unequivocally passed back.

                                                                                                          imagine how differently it might have gone if you call the server, and just before your hesitation, you say to the date two little words: "you first". no question as to who orders first, and no question that you will be ordering for yourself right after.

                                                                                                          i'm not saying you are or aren't at fault, or that he is or isn't a jerk. but rather than feel judged, maybe use all the comments here - which are speculative - to consider other possible reasons for what happened.

                                                                                                          finally, one incident usually doesn't reveal what you need to know about a potential friend or partner (barring violence or some other deal-breaker of course). we all make mistakes. look for patterns that reveal themselves. does he do this every time? does he do other things that feel sexist or racist or just inconsiderate? your next date(s) will tell you more. good luck!

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: ta0126

                                                                                                            Hi ta0126,

                                                                                                            Thanks for being the first one to actually ask how long I hesitated -- as opposed to making your own conclusion over how long a "hesitation" is -- because though I was tempted to chime in (after I'd received criticism over my original post) on such details, I'd initially decided against it lest I sounded overly defensive or like I was rewriting history.

                                                                                                            I probably shouldn't have even used the word hesitation, because the speed at which thoughts pass through one's mind is quicker than can usually be described in common units of time, let alone vague nouns. "Hesitation" (particularly of a mental sort) sounds far longer than most people perceive, and I think most of the commenters, through no fault of their own of course, interpreted this as a palpable moment of silence, which it definitely was not.

                                                                                                            My "hesitation" was so brief, I felt like he actually cut me off when he ordered for me. So in a sense, it wasn't so much what he said to the server as the fact that he didn't even give me a chance to defer to him. That's what irked me more than the content of his words. As I recall, I was *just* about to say "go ahead" after looking over at him, when he cut me off mid-inhale and placed the order. One could even say there was no hesitation, just a glancing over at my date as I was about to speak.

                                                                                                            Anyhow, this is all such old news now, as I've gone on a second non-food date and will have lunch with him next weekend. This time, I will definitely assert my order without so much as a glance in his direction. JUST KIDDING, GUYS. But it'll be something along those lines.

                                                                                                            1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                              well bmp, that info definitely would have helped!
                                                                                                              I'm glad you are going an dates and enjoying this new person.
                                                                                                              and here's to assertive ordering!
                                                                                                              ( :

                                                                                                              1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                well I'm happy to hear this wasn't a 'cut' issue

                                                                                                            2. 30's? Hmm, maybe too young for "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" but he was following Mike Damone's 5 point plan for impressing women:


                                                                                                              1. As the father of two daughters (one adult and one nearly-adult), I would have found this to be a big red flag. I'd have said that this sounds like an overly controlling person - he doesn't even want you to talk to strangers. Or maybe he hasn't dated much - since the 1950s.

                                                                                                                If that wasn't the image he wanted to convey, all he had to say to remedy the silence is, "please - you first".

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                                                                  Are you serious?

                                                                                                                  The waitress had already looked at the OP, who passed the ball over to her date. Passing it back to her very well could have ended up in a stalemate with the waitress walking away in frustration, waiting for SOMEBODY to order, since they'd flagged her over to begin with.

                                                                                                                  Ordering for one's date is NOT an indication of a control freak...but then perhaps your daughters might be well acquainted with that behavior pattern.

                                                                                                                2. WOW!
                                                                                                                  I agree with Sunshine.

                                                                                                                  Ordering what your date has already told you she wanted is not a bad thing.
                                                                                                                  Invite him on a Sadie Hawkins date and reverse the tables.
                                                                                                                  Then he can say all kinds of bad things about you to his on-line buddies.

                                                                                                                  1. Now, I have been happily married, longer than you have lived, so you must filter this.

                                                                                                                    When I began dating (will not mention the millennium), a gentleman always asked his date, or female dinner companion, their desires. He then ordered for both, when the server arrived. The gentleman had to remember all dishes, and also any variations to each. That was just how it was.

                                                                                                                    If my lovely wife and I, are dining alone, that is still how it is.If we are in a group, I let all ladies order their meals, and then will only order mine, when it is time for gentlemen to place their orders.

                                                                                                                    Remember, that is probably so "old school," as to be completely moot by any standard today.

                                                                                                                    Just ignore my musings, and ramblings, and I hope that the date went well.


                                                                                                                    1. You are overanalyzing. Relax. Generally speaking, the female usually orders first. When you deferred to him, he maybe felt awkward ordering before you did, so he "fixed" it by telling the waitress what you wanted first. No doubt he was uncomfortable and didn't want to screw up and was shooting from the hip. He sounds sweet. Forget it unless other things go wrong.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        It also indicates (to me at least), that he was listening. Might be a good sign?


                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                          I like your thoughts, maybe my generation!! LOL!

                                                                                                                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                            I just asked my 23-year-old son the following question: "These days, on the first few dates, who pays?"

                                                                                                                            He said, without hesitation, "the guy."

                                                                                                                            That said, did you and your date discuss/negotiate/offer, etc., the payment of the check?

                                                                                                                            If you both felt comfortable with the payment arrangement, fine.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                              Interesting. That was "the way it was," but I would have assumed (erroneously, obviously) that thing had changed.

                                                                                                                              Thanks for that update. Not having children, and all nieces and nephews long gone, I was unaware. My guesses would have been very wrong.



                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                it hasn't really changed, just who asks. it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man, but either gendered host has to be prepared to, umm, host.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                  Way back in my dating years, there were only a few instances, where the lady would pay - usually at things like a breakfast after a ball, or similar. Never gave much thought to it.

                                                                                                                                  I am aware that things have changed, just judging by the crowds around me, but probably have not paid close attention.

                                                                                                                                  I do know that I would fail horribly in the "dating scene" today, as I find it hard to hear conversation, in most venues now. If my "date" did not enjoy a very quiet restaurant, I'd never know anything about her. Just another reason to keep my young wife happy!


                                                                                                                        1. I haven't read this whole thread, but honestly, this would probably have been my only date with the guy. Frankly, I would find his actions odd. I tend to dodge labels, but I guess I'm a pretty hardcore feminist. However, it wouldn't be about feminism for me - more about personal boundaries and thoughtfulness. By ordering for you, he bypassed any questions you may have had about the dish or modifications you might have required. He didn't know if you had any food allergies or sensitivities. It also precludes me forming any sort of connection with the server if there's someone acting as an intermediary - I enjoy developing a rapport with the people who are handling my food. To me, ordering for your date is not gentlemanly, but presumptuous.

                                                                                                                          I don't even think that "sexism" would be the first word that would pop into my head. But that said, I have sledgehammered outbuildings to pieces entirely on my own. I've shoveled vast amounts of manure. I've moved across the country entirely on my own. I'm 35, and I've lived most of my adult years on my own as a self-supporting adult working in a white-collar profession. I take a great deal of pride and pleasure in my independence and self-sufficiency. A man ordering for me on the first date would feel quite simply strange, and more than a little silly. I wouldn't be contemptuous, but I would in all likelihood walk away without looking back - simply because that one act would show our values systems and what we are looking for in our relationships to be entirely different.

                                                                                                                          I actually tend to date very stereotypically masculine men - guys who build things, repair cars, hunt, etc. But they've always liked and appreciated my ability to take care of myself. The idea that they would be doing me a favor by ordering my dinner for me just would never pop into their heads.

                                                                                                                          Maybe this was just a fluke, but for me, it would have been a red flag signaling incompatibility. If I really liked him, I might attempt to discuss it, but if the rest of the date was just "meh" I'd probably be writing him off.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                            But then, would you not have opted to order first, with all the questions and considerations?

                                                                                                                            The OP had that opportunity, as stated, but chose to not go with it, for whatever reason.

                                                                                                                            That was her prerogative, but what should you have had the guy to do, at that point?

                                                                                                                            Somehow, I am reading a lot of psycho-stuff into the event, and am just not sure where that is coming from. Maybe I am just wrong here.

                                                                                                                            Just curious,


                                                                                                                          2. Ah, I see the points made about your hesitation possibly making him think you wanted him to order for him - missed that in the original post. Definitely talk with him about it. See if your values line up in that regard. He could be wondering why you wanted him to order for you:)

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                              Oops, replied, before I read every post.

                                                                                                                              Ignore the above comments, as it seems that we read things alike, though there is probably a big generation gap here.



                                                                                                                            2. It's a gentlemanly thing to order for a lady. Ever watch James Bond?

                                                                                                                              Honestly, though, food is meant to be shared. I despise the american way of eating (not talking about a TV dinner in front of the Television). one dish per person, everyone split the bill. I much prefer the Chinese, Italian, and Middle eastern ways to order community dishes. You get to try more things, and you get to see manners too (on a first date). Does your date offer some of their food? Do they cut their steak and give you a piece?

                                                                                                                              You can tell how adventurous a person (your date) will be by what they're willing to try. How much they love food, and their attention to detail, and so forth.

                                                                                                                              I always share my food, or go to a place where you can order a bunch of things and try them.

                                                                                                                              38 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                offering to share food on a first date would, IMO, be far weirder than ordering for her.

                                                                                                                                Doesn't matter what your opinion is -- the date took place in the US with US-based diners, therefore framing under some other set of cultural standards is not only irrelevant, but guaranteed to create problems that don't exist.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  --offering to share food on a first date would, IMO, be far weirder than ordering for her.--

                                                                                                                                  >>>"Doesn't matter what your opinion is." touché. Disagree completely. didn't know sharing would create problems. and not sure what you're getting at. we should all be so uncultured and not offer to share our food? food is love. Anyone who would NOT offer to share food would be canned. It's simple etiquette. To each his own.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                    My point is that sharing food is NOT standard behavior between Americans in American restaurants, especially between strangers, therefore to be shocked or appalled that someone would NOT do so is applying other cultural judgements to a wholly-American framework.

                                                                                                                                    Not that your opinion is unimportant -- it's that judging a meal between Americans in an American restaurant by any standard other than American is irrelevant in this particular case.

                                                                                                                                    It would be like going to a French restaurant with two French people IN France, then being appalled because they used a fork to steer a piece of bread around the plate to absorb the sauce. It would be considered bad manners in the US, but it's utterly normal in France, so the US-based criticism is equally irrelevant.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      Then, and you must insert MY "then," it would have been awkward to share dishes with a first date, or a second, and maybe even a third. That was just how it was.

                                                                                                                                      There were no "foodies" then, and very obviously no "ChowHounds," and it was a very different time, and different place. Also, it could have been just a Deep South, USA thing? Hey, after all, the "Lady and the Tramp" shared pasta in the Disney classic, but real people did not - at least not yet.


                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                        And, no Internet! No fun, couldn't have all these fun conversations!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                      I'm with you. When I was dating not so long ago, one of the things I looked at was whether the man was squeamish about sharing. It's not that I would have thought him strange or odd if he didn't because I know it's not the American or even *Continental* way to dine, but it would tell me if he was raised (or learned) to treat the meal, which is a very important and often symbolic thing to me, in a way that made me feel comfortable and considered.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                        My only issue with sharing is that as the person who is the most adventerous eater in the family and among my closest friends, I am always the one who has to compromise. And it gets tiresome.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                          I understand. I don't require it, but I would offer a sampling of my food and observe if my date does the same.

                                                                                                                                          It's not a character judgment - just a compatibility one.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                          Great! Obviously, things have changed. Way back when, sharing was a bit frowned upon, and was often a sub-chapter in many books.

                                                                                                                                          Now, having been married for many years, and with a wife,who has different culinary tastes, sharing is common with us, though we attempt to be very discrete about it. Same for her Sommelier's Pairings, that differ from mine - we share our wines!



                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                            "sharing was a bit frowned upon"

                                                                                                                                            One of the bigger surprises in my adulthood was to find out that food sharing is still very much frowned upon by many men, maybe most men. It is often men's major complaint that their women dining companions say they are not hungry and then pick food off their (the men's) plate. More than one man have heaped scorn on this practice that women somehow imagine to be cute.
                                                                                                                                            After a few men pointed this out, I started seeing the phenomenon from their angle. And indeed it seems far fewer men pick on women's plate. They are territorial about their plate; it won't kill us women, who are so keen about being respected, to respect men, and their plate.
                                                                                                                                            My husband and I nearly always share our dishes, after consulting and agreeing on what to order. Even then, we always ask each other if that's ok, and never take the privilege of picking food off the other's plate for granted.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                              Sounds like many conversations in our family.

                                                                                                                                              "What were you thinking about?"
                                                                                                                                              "Oh, the salmon with the risotto starter. And you?"
                                                                                                                                              "Hm-m, I was also thinking about the salmon, but will order the seabass instead. Why don't we share the risotto, and add the foie gras?"

                                                                                                                                              There have been times, where we have ordered the same dishes, but not often. Even with choices of some Chef's Tastings, we will mix things up. At one restaurant, that also has two levels of Sommelier's Pairings, we always order one of the "regular," and one of the "reserve," and share our wines too. To me, it's part of the fun, and to have 2 slightly different wines, for nearly every dish, is as good as it gets.

                                                                                                                                              About the only time that we do not share, is with certain dishes - if she orders liver (except for foie gras), I will most likely not be sharing, and the same for oysters, scallops, etc., which she cannot share. I usually ONLY get scallops, when she has a dish in that spot in the order, that I will not be partaking of.


                                                                                                                                        3. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                          For me, and with my frame of reference, that was just not normally done.

                                                                                                                                          I am not casting aspersions on the practice, just stating what were the norms, way back when.


                                                                                                                                        4. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                          I rather agree, but them am both from the US, plus a "Son of the Old South," but it took me awhile to begin to really share dishes with my wife. Now, we do it often, though I cannot recall doing so, when I was dating. Maybe just a different culture.


                                                                                                                                        5. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                          Sharing food can often be considered intimate- not everyone is comfortable doing that on a first date.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                                                            Agreed. It'd be unfair to be judge a person because he/she's unwilling to share food on first dates.

                                                                                                                                            Also, to some people, sharing food on first dates is tacky. I'd be offended if my date insists on splitting food from my plate. Not everyone is comfortable with sharing their food on a first date when you're still getting to know each other.

                                                                                                                                            Hands off my plate, thanks. No sharing food until both people are comfortable with each other. :)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                              Suppose that first date was dinner at a fine Chinese restaurant?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                If both people are Chinese (or from food-sharing cultures), then yes, sharing's probably okay.

                                                                                                                                                Otherwise, food sharing should not be expected on a first date.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not persuaded that BOTH diners need to be "Chinese (or from food-sharing cultures)" in this situation.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                    I don't understand, of course BOTH diners have to agree to share. All it takes is one diner to object for sharing to not happen.

                                                                                                                                                    Diner A: Do you mind if we share the food?
                                                                                                                                                    Diner B: I'm sorry. I prefer not to.

                                                                                                                                                    Whether you're eating at a Chinese restaurant, or not, you can't force someone to share their food. On a first date, the norm in the United States is eating the food you ordered yourself and keep your hands off your dining companion's plate.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                                    now you lost me. chnese food, in america, is generally served family style - even to non chinese people - so the norm there is sharing. the ethnicity of the people at the table do not enter into it

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                      I'm talking about on a first date. If one person doesn't want to share, sharing doesn't happen. It doesn't matter that the server set down the dishes in the center of the table. You each grab the one you ordered. Happens all the time in a Chinese restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                      If both diners are from a food-sharing culture, there's a higher likelihood that sharing will actually take place on a first date because it's viewed as "more normal". Still doesn't guarantee it though.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                                        That's so sad. If one were to agree to eat at a nice Chinese restaurant even on a first date the assumption would be that dishes are ordered and placed in the center from which each diner can take portions, as thew indicated. If folks insist on eating only the dish they opted for and no other - and this applies,by your account, to situations where "Americans" eat at Chinese restaurants whether they are on a date or on a 'meal out amongst friends or acquaintances or even folks you just met that day on a business trip' - then their insistence on applying their perceived norms of Caucasian USA mores (or wherever the "non-sharing" insistence comes from) to a meal where sharing is the norm is just ...sad.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                          The constant complaint of what Americans do probably due to the fact that this board is U.S.-centric, but it's worth noting that in my experience, Western Europeans are far worse when it comes to sharing dishes in cuisines traditionally meant to be served family style. Heavens, many of them refuse to give up the fork and knife, even when we go for Ethiopian-- although at least there, the sharing is inevitable.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                            I agree, we certainly didn't share dishes growing up in Germany. Far from it!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                              Well, here's a pic of a platter of choucrote w/ stuff served at L'Alsace Brasserie in Paris: http://cache.virtualtourist.com/15/25...
                                                                                                                                                              Another pic of folks eating in another Brasserie in Paris, I believe: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_f2SOTLgsQC0...

                                                                                                                                                              As for not sharing dishes or food in France and Germany, does that also apply in Chinese restaurants, Korean restaurants (how is banchan dealt with?), etc - let alone the Ethiopian place(s) you mention? What about sushi/sashimi in Japanese places? What about buffets – by definition one would be sharing many big platters/trays of food with a heck of a lot of strangers… It might also be useful to keep in mind that even with Chinese folks once you had put food onto your own plate or bowl you generally did not pass your own plate around to 'share'.

                                                                                                                                                              As another example, I also find it strange that one would not "share" in places that serve tapas - of decidedly European origin. Even in the USA, if you tried going with dining companions to places that served "small plates" and did not share, you would be the odd duck indeed.

                                                                                                                                                              What about dim sum? Etc etc.

                                                                                                                                                              Suppose you had a plate of cookies put down on the table with the coffee in some German or French restaurant? (Do the diners get their own individual pot of coffee?) What about the bread basket during the meal?

                                                                                                                                                              I assume we are talking about eating in restaurants, per the topic of this thread.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                There are some dishes made for two and a I imagine that a Choucroute garnie could be offered as such.

                                                                                                                                                                But no, sharing is not typical, even to the point of people ordering their own dishes at Chinese restaurants and Indian restaurants. I wouldn't know about sushi/sashimi, which is a latecomer to the places I been. My suspicion is that those who have come to know these foods through travel may share, but that the inclination among many would be to order their own.

                                                                                                                                                                Dim Sum is different, I'll guess, but frankly, I've yet to see a dim sum place I'd actually go to in Paris, Brussels, or my present village. And the people who are most often keen to go to these places elsewhere tend not to be my European friends, but my American and Asian friends. (But in the UK, we order dim sum from a menu, and not carts, so that could help the anti-sharers.)

                                                                                                                                                                But I don't understand the point of this list, which seems to be an attempt to undermine my point to you that Americans are hardly the only ones who don't share (and that it isn't customary to share in most restaurants in Western Europe-- although yes, I've split entrées although not mains with people) through reductio ad absurdum.

                                                                                                                                                                What about biscuits? What about the sugar in the bowl? etc etc. Really, now?

                                                                                                                                                                Come to think of it (although admittedly I cannot afford to eat out much), it's been yonks since I've seen a bread basket save for in a U.S. restaurant, and our home-- but more for the cheese course). When I have had bread before dinner in a nice restaurant, it's been individually served. Still, I can assure you that when I was a kid, we did share bread when we'd have a dinner out at Aux Armes de Bruxelles...)

                                                                                                                                                                So there you go... now what did that prove exactly? :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                  Nothing, except to give me some answers to my questions for which I thank you. I guess there are no buffets around where you are.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                    i live in NYC and there aren't all that many buffets here, either

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, but those hot and cold salad bars... Call me nasty, but I think they're magical. At least, some are.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                                                                                                                    This has caused me to ponder, and try to remember.

                                                                                                                                                    Though we dated for 6 years, before we married, I would guess that it was maybe 3 years, into the marriage, before we began sharing. Could be wrong there, but then, it was very, very long ago.Maybe it was me, or maybe it was both of us. I just cannot remember.

                                                                                                                                                    Since then, we very often share (remember, this is anything BUT a first date), and will order to accommodate everything, telling the servers that we intend to share.

                                                                                                                                                    As the OP was talking about a "first date," I well realize that many of my reflections do not count, due to their date and age.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                      Predicated on this thread, I have tried to really reach back. Just a guess, but I'd say that it was not until about 5 years of marriage, and then we dated for 6 years, before that. Should my wife see this thread, maybe she could correct me, on when we first "shared."


                                                                                                                                                  4. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                                                                    Especially in the age of internet dating, where you have no friends or family in common and the date itself is a bit of a leap of faith.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                                                                      I agree, and it was not until some years into my marriage, that I became comfortable with the concept. I think that I was into it, less than my wife, who had a much more recent Euro attitude, than I did.

                                                                                                                                                      Now, even in 3-starred restaurants, we whisper to the servers, our desires. Magically, the appropriate silverware is presented, even for soups and broths. Many will split such dishes.

                                                                                                                                                      At one US resort, recently rated # 1, the staff know what we will likely do, and are proactive, with splitting and furnishing the appropriate silverware for each, regardless of who ordered what.

                                                                                                                                                      Still, and trying to project here, were this a first date, I would probably not ask, or offer to share a dish. However, if that first date approached me with the idea, I would never decline, as that is how I do it now - hope that I never have to know about a first date again.


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                                                                                        I had a sushi first date w/ a gentleman who forked up a portion of his food and started aiming at my mouth. I do not do that. I do not do it ever, and certainly not on a first date. In fact, I do not do that even with my husband. I'm not sure why, but I really feel it's an inappropriate gesture. It's really not about hygiene; If someone was that offensive I doubt we'd have gotten as far as a first date. I just don't like it. Maybe I'm weird. On the other hand, if you cut the portion and allow me to use my fork to get it and place it in my own mouth, that's totally fine by me. Whatev. :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                          mamac - yup, it is acceptable to exclaim how good something is and slide the plate towards someone, but offering/jabbing a forkful (or sticksful) at my face is just kind of weird and intrusive.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                            On a first date, no less. Did he lean in to kiss you afterward? Kekeke...


                                                                                                                                                          2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                            even if he'd asked first it would help, but to just aim it your way is really odd.

                                                                                                                                                            We share -- but even after nearly 20 years of eating together, we still ask if the other would like to try a bite, or if we're having a little plate envy, asking if we can try.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: eezerik

                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, but who wants to marry James Bond? And doesn't every woman he sleeps with eventually die a gruesome death?

                                                                                                                                                        3. Let's be honest here. In 2011, men are confused on what to do, especially the first date.
                                                                                                                                                          The message we get is that women are strong and self-sufficient, but at the same time women want men to open doors and want to be treated like queens. It's kind of a double standard.

                                                                                                                                                          For example, did you split the bill or did he pay? What's the expectation from women, in general?

                                                                                                                                                          If you're peeved by what he did and you've already considered he's "failed", maybe he's not the guy for you or your expectations are too high or unrealistic.

                                                                                                                                                          On my first date with my wife, I tried ordering for her and "failed". She thought it was cute and reacted in a humorous way.

                                                                                                                                                          I'd say the guy had first date jitters, but it sounds like you're not cutting him any slack. To bad he isn't reading this thread, he should run for the hills.

                                                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                            She cut him plenty of slack. She was just confused by what happened and turned to Chowhound for some insights to see what she was missing and better understand the situation. If he runs for the hills based on that, well, pfft. No big loss.

                                                                                                                                                            I don't know who your friends are dating (I'm assuming you're not, since you're married), but as a person with her own income who's pretty happy with her life, I'm just looking for an equal who treats me like a human being. Gender should only be an issue when we're getting physical. In my dating life, I generally split the bill or alternate. I realize there are women out believe it is their male partner's responsibility to take care of them, but I don't really know any that are under the age of 50.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                                                              "If he runs for the hills based on that, well, pfft. No big loss"
                                                                                                                                                              Maybe not for her, but it could be said by some that it might be a lucky escape for him. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                                                                Thank you, Heatherb, for actually getting the gist of my OP. I find it ironic that some people in this thread are blasting me for over-analyzing and blowing things way out of proportion when they're doing that very thing with my inquiry despite my very clear explanation for its motivation. So thank you, Heather, for understanding me absolutely and exactly. I didn't think it would be that hard, but bulletin board passions get in the way, apparently.

                                                                                                                                                                I'm going to see him a third time tonight, so nobody's running for any hills.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                                                                  LOL, anytime. I'm in the middle of gearing up my dating life in a new town, and I know how hard it is.

                                                                                                                                                                  Third date? Enjoy! :)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                                                                    Good luck to both of you ladies. I hope you're having a blast. They're not always perfect dates, but the less than perfect ones make for great conversation, wouldn't you agree? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks! I AM having a blast. And there have been some pretty hysterical stories - I think I make my married friends glad they're married:)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                                                                    Does he have a clue that you posted here, and by my last count, that there were 139 replies?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mother of four

                                                                                                                                                                      No, because for one thing, shortly after I posted this, I never thought about it whenever I was with him (as we had so many other things to talk about). But I think he might actually get a kick out of it. So perhaps one day I'll show him, if we get more serious.

                                                                                                                                                                      Also, I'm a bit flabbergasted this HAS elicited such a response!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                                                                        I think the sooner he sees this thread the better.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                                                                          You'r not the only one that's flabbergasted!! Do let us all know when the wedding date is! Wouldn't that be a hoot!! And...you notice I was the first to post and I'm still here! This has really turned out to be fun.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                    We split the bill. Actually, I ordered more than he did, so technically I paid my share and he paid his.

                                                                                                                                                                  4. IMO women should order first, he was just being polite. Lucky you.

                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                                                      In a group situation, that is normally the way that it is.

                                                                                                                                                                      With but a party of two, then things can get a tad tough.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                        How so...maybe I'm too old-fashioned? (But I confess I do like masculine men :))

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                                                          It was once very common, at least in certain cultures, for the lady to express her culinary desires, and then the gentleman would place the order for them both. Why? How did this come to be? I cannot tell you. Maybe it was a Clark Gable thing, or perhaps it went back very far into the past. Maybe a kindly food historian can educate me. For me, it was just how it was. It meant that I did have to listen closely, while memorizing the bin #'s from the wine list, plus deciding what I wished to order, and how I would like it prepared.


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                            While I know it's an old-fasioned tradition to have the male order, here's my 2 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think of ordering for another as gender-oriented at all. I think it's a polite gesture to gather the requests from the guests at the table and deliver them to the server in an organized fashion. I order for gf's, Beau orders for me, I order for him. Whoever's best equipped should be the one opening their mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. who paid? not that it matters because i don't think his gesture matters much. its one act in isolation. maybe he was nervous, maybe he thought u wanted him to order, who knows... but would be interesting to know if you were 'bothered that he assumed he could order for you', but not bothered if he assumed he could pay for you...

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: guitardoood

                                                                                                                                                                        I find those questions interesting, and probably more so, as I come from a different time, and a different place. Until this thread, there has been much that I have never really thought about. Some things just kind of came naturally, at least to me.

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for asking,


                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hey OP - just read this whole thread and wanted to let you know that I 'get' it, too. I don't know why there seem to be so many aggressive replies here, intimations that somehow you're pre-henpecking this poor, poor man etc. I didn't get that from the OP at all, and yes, I, too, might use a message board to ask a question about an issue I was wondering about - doesn't mean I'm condeming anyone. Nothing wrong with a little curiosity about other people, their motivations etc. Good luck!!!

                                                                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                          Yet the OP seems to have brooded on it for days.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                            I get the feeling WE have brooded on it for far longer.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                              That's because when it was first posted it pressed many buttons for many folks. Then, once one posts a reply, it comes up forevermore in your list of threads and pops out at you when you get onto Chowhound...so you peek at the new replies...

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                            Yet when you read the post there is tremendous hostility from the op from the way she expressed the scenario, towards a man that she would continue to see. One more thing; the post is seeking advice about gender etiquette, but the op is clearly justifying only herself, with no concern for her date whom she btw 'likes'. The op's post feels a bit disingenuous; I felt more aggressiveness coming from her, and many have responded in kind. Just calling it the way I see it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lilgi


                                                                                                                                                                              There have also been a significant number of posts which dug into the underlying issue, "relations between the sexes", which have been trashed by the Volunteers.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. Because the OP didn't JUST come on and ask for clarification of an etiquette issue that she was hitherto unfamiliar with -- she launched it into the intarwebs as some sort of slightly aberrant behavior, and then went on to describe other 'fails' on his part throughout the course of the evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                Not your average run-of-the-mill benign question.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't have given a thought to the (slightly nervous, wanting to make a good impression) guy ordering for me. I spent an awful lot of time in my single years trying to interpret what a guy "meant". My husband clued me into a secret...men just aren't that complicated.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                                                                                    +! !!!! Gold star for you and othere here for understanding men.

                                                                                                                                                                                    There's no sexist conspiracy nor are we trying to create drama. We aren't that complicated.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For example...

                                                                                                                                                                                    When we ask about how a tie looks, we are really are asking how the tie looks, not for a you to say, "Great!"

                                                                                                                                                                                    When men don't care about the restaurant, We are NOT saying, "We don't care about you." We are saying, "We don't care where we eat. Pick a place that will make you happy."

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                      Excellent replies from Daisy and Dave. Bravo.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                        Dave, you should write a book with the very simple secrets about men. Include this one: a (good) man wants you to be happy. Let him know how to do that, instead of hoping he'll read your mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Remember this q&a set in stone:
                                                                                                                                                                                          "Do these pants make my ass look big?" Real answer: "No. Your ASS makes your ass look big."

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                    "Tremendous hostility"?! Where? Are we having another semantic issue here? The word "fail" is, I suspect, not a heavy word to most younger people. Just yesterday I was accused of "shopping fail" when I forgot to pick something up at the store (the very thing I had gone out for!) - the OP said there were "fails" throughout the evening - that word, for me, is lighthearted and humourous. I know it can be seen differently, though. I just don't see the OP being hostile, I see it being read into her post. And they're still seeing each other! Shouldn't that speak for itself?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                                      I was being nice. If 'tremendous hostility' for you implies an action, then I would rephrase what I wrote to mention that the post was 'riddled with underlying contempt' because the hostility is understood and explained very well in Sunshine's post.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                                        '..."fail" is, I suspect, not a heavy word to most younger people.'

                                                                                                                                                                                        That's true for teens and maybe early 20'ish hipster crowd. For us 30+, I'm 30 +++, fail is fail unless we're razzing people we know. :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you, montrealeater. Very much appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Folks, this post got off to a rocky start and hasn't really improved. We understand that etiquette questions tend to invite personal responses that judge either the poster or the people they interacted with, but that's not the nature of our discussion here on Chowhound, so we're going to lock this thread now.