first date tip couple at restaurant

Looking for someone nice? Stop ignoring this tip for that first date

When it comes to dating advice, there really is nothing new to add. People have, for the most part, already figured out how to spot someone who isn’t actually a decent human being. So then why do you end up on a second date or, even worse, dating a jerk? You might be ignoring this tried and true first date tip that says a lot about someone’s personality.

Sure, people are people, and people have a tendency to lie. Even if someone isn’t lying to you on that first date, chances are you’re not seeing them as they truly are. We hold things back because dating makes you feel vulnerable, and that’s scary. But there is a way to tell if someone is genuinely nice, or just faking it for the length of a dinner conversation.

It all comes down to how they treat the staff. Watching how your date interacts with the waiter probably isn’t the first thing you’re thinking about. That’s probably why this first date tip gets ignored or forgotten so often. We worry instead about how to gracefully eat our salad or soup or, heaven forbid, whether we’ve gotten something stuck in our teeth. If we’re not concerned with our looks (and you really shouldn’t be), we’re probably trying to come across as witty or fun.

Here’s why this first date tip works

But that’s exactly why this first date tip works so well. Just like you’re worried about 10 other things, so is your date (unless they’re a robot). That means, hopefully, that they’re not watching their every word with the wait staff. If you see your date be rude to the waitress or busboy, it’s a clear sign that you should run for the hills. Mistakes do happen in kitchens and, yes, they might have to send something back on your first date. But a nice person will manage to maneuver this situation with kindness.

first date tip woman ordering food
If you’re not listening for a “please” and “thank you” when your date orders, you’re missing out on an opportunity to peek into their personality.

Fraser Cottrell

But it should be just as telling for you if they ignore the wait staff. Sure, they’re not being rude, but it’s a big red flag. What you’re seeing is the difference between how they treat someone they’re trying to impress (you) and someone they’re not (the waitress). So even if they’re nice to you now, at some point you’ll experience the other side of the coin firsthand. After all, we don’t go through our entire relationships actively trying to impress the other person.

What if you’re not going to dinner?

Sometimes you want things to be a little more casual the first time you meet. You can still use the same first date tip if you’re going anywhere there’s wait staff. Grabbing coffee or a drink together is easy: there are baristas and bartenders. Snagging some ice cream and walking around? See how your date deals with the cashier.

If you’re headed to the movies, watch how they treat the cashier. Later, check to see if they’re respecting other people’s time (and yours!) by turning their phone on silent. Even bigger events where there’s less pressure for one-on-one time can be revealing. Networking events with hors d’oeuvres are the perfect chance to see if your date will say thank you, even in passing.

Essentially, what you’re looking for is this: Do they treat other people with decency? Even if you date and end up falling in love, you’ll lose some of your sparkle to the other person. Make sure they’ll treat you like a gem, even when the luster of the honeymoon period is over.

Mike Wilson