The dating world can be hard to navigate. Going from swiping yes, to chatting, to an in-person meeting is stressful, even when the people truly like each other.
At best, a first date is a way to get to know someone better in real life. At worst, well, it can become a horror story you tell your friends about later.
One man wrote to the subreddit r/AITA asking if his behavior ruined a first date.
The man ate dinner before his date showed up at the restaurant and then wondered why she was so upset.
He set the scene by explaining that he’d met a woman online and they agreed to go out for dinner and planned to meet at a restaurant at 9. On the day of the date, he was “super busy with work and didn’t get to eat lunch,” so by 8 p.m., he was “starving.”
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He also explained that he’s “not a foodie,” saying, “I eat to get full and not as an experience. I’ll often eat at home before dinner outings just because I don’t want to wait and rather enjoy the experience of the outing, which for me doesn’t involve the eating portion.”
The man confessed that he liked to show up for dates early, “so I can check out the environment, pick the best seats and just prepare in general, so I arrived about 45 minutes early this time.” He decided to eat before his date got there, “to get it out of the way” and not “be hungry and cranky having to wait another hour or so before I can eat.”
When his date did arrive, the man said, “We instantly clicked, she’s smiling and we’re having great conversation… It’s overall going extremely well.”
“Eventually she asks if I would like to order some food to which I respond, ‘No thank you, I’m not hungry’ and she insists, saying she doesn’t want to eat alone, but I tell her ‘Don’t worry and eat,’ and that I am enjoying my cocktail,” he explained.
“We call the waiter over and she starts asking him for recommendations, to which he responds with no ill intentions that it seemed I really enjoyed the tacos so maybe she should try them.”
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The man’s date was confused and asked for an explanation, so he told her he had eaten before she got there.
“She immediately becomes furious,” the man said. “I explained to her that my goal was to get to know her and the eating portion wasn’t important.”
The man said that ‘the whole mood changed’ after his date discovered he’d eaten without her.
“I haven’t heard from her since,” he reported, wondering if he was wrong for how he acted on their date.
The people in the comments section unanimously agreed that he was wrong for eating dinner before his date arrived, even if his intentions weren’t meant to be hurtful, they hurt her, regardless. Some people wondered why he didn’t just have a snack before leaving the house.
“It’s like you asked her to a movie, then went to see the movie before she arrived because you really wanted to see it earlier, and then sat with her while she later watched the movie, but you did other things while the movie was playing,” someone offered to illustrate her experience.
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Others noted that he disregarded what she might want and only considered himself. “You were only thinking of your needs, not hers,” one person explained. “A dinner date is a social event — a shared event. The ‘eating portion’ is part of that. To make her eat alone is awful and awkward.”
Someone else commented on the dissonance between his intent and his actions, noting, “He’s concerned about the vibe of the restaurant but doesn’t understand how eating alone would be a bad vibe for her.”
Navigating the dating waters is never easy, but in this instance, there were measures he could have taken to ensure it ran much more smoothly. Choosing a location or activity that didn’t involve food would have been a good choice, and considering food and eating are integral to so many people’s social lives, being forthcoming that it was not a priority for him could have saved them both the awkward encounter.
While the man’s choice to eat before his date didn’t seem to be rooted in being purposefully cruel, the outcome was hurtful to her. He didn’t mean to make her feel bad, but he did, and he probably shouldn’t expect to hear from her anytime soon.
Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango’s news and entertainment team. She covers relationships, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.