There are certain unspoken rules when it comes to dining out for a first date. You should avoid ordering the most expensive meal, because you might be labeled a “gold digger.” The person who asks you out should also pay for the date, unless otherwise specified.
Oh, and you should never take someone to Red Lobster, Olive Garden and/or Shoney’s for a first, second or third date. At least those were the “tips” I picked up on in my formative years.
But what happens if your date actually likes Red Lobster? What happens if that last basket of cheddar bay biscuits is the key to bae’s heart?
For some reason, the age-old #Redlobster debate is currently making its rounds on social media. Some folks are defending the veteran restaurant chain, while others are saying that the establishment is fine dining for “basic” people.
Why do people think they too good to eat #redlobster.. like who else has lobsterfest & the cheddar biscuits. Never too good for the biscuits
— Ororo Munroe (@sheilae__) March 27, 2017
— Willybobo (@fakingstarwars) March 27, 2017
— sandyreese (@sandyreese1608) March 27, 2017
I’ll take #RedLobster any day! Shame on you bougie a** chicks! Wanna be taken to a bougie a** place and half of you still live with ya mama😂
— EazyBreeeezy🌸 (@BleuWint) March 27, 2017
Either way, it made me think about expectations when it comes to dating.
From the initial request for a date, to the restaurant/activity, to the conversation, to the goodnight kiss, there’s a certain expectation that conveys—or at least is supposed to—just how serious someone is about you. No one actually questions what “real romance” looks like. Like many things in life, we are simply force fed an ideology and when people go outside of the norm, they are accused of falling short or being disinterested in us.
I’ve come to realize that a man (or woman) can bring you a dozen freshly picked red roses, spend hundreds of dollars on a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant, cruise around the city in a limo and give you the most sensual goodnight kiss ever and still not be into you. There are some people who simply enjoy treating people to a good time for no other reason than to have good company or to satisfy their own egos. It’s rare, but true.
You know how you really know somebody’s feeling you? Chemistry and connection. Whether you are in Paris or in the drive-thru of White Castle, those two things never lie. He will look for you in a crowded room no matter how many fine women are in his point of view. She will not be able to keep her hands off of you no matter how much it could go “down in the DM.”
We are a visual people, so I won’t sit here and pretend like details such as a venue do not matter. But the details of where the date is doesn’t matter in the same context as the current debate that is taking place on Twitter.
For example, it is unwise to take a woman who does not drink to a bar for a first date. Sure, she can order a ginger ale and maybe some potato wedges, but that isn’t the point. You probably shouldn’t take a vegan to your town’s annual rib fest either. One major key to a bomb ass date usually involves one main action. And that’s active listening.
Red Lobster isn’t the issue; the true issue is choosing a venue or activity that doesn’t speak to your date’s interests and desires. Every good date involves an environment—whether it be the bowling alley, Red Lobster or a five-star resort—that is conducive to each person’s comfort. The goal, especially for a first date, should be to get to know each other. What better way to do so than in an environment that makes your date most relaxed?
For some, chain restaurants just isn’t the move, but to judge those who may enjoy a nice, simple dining experience isn’t the move either.
Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY. She moderates various events centered on love, relationships, politics and wellness and has appeared on panels throughout the country. Her book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available now. Keep up with Shantell via her website, Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.