It was my first date with the cute vet I'd met at the park, and instantly it felt like we were reenacting a scene from a Nora Ephron movie. The banter was romantic-comedy perfect: laughing about how my dog tried to hump his, dissing each other's hometown baseball teams, planning an evening at the ice-skating rink. But during the date, when I ordered dinner ("Chicken fajitas, please — hold the peppers, no sour cream, and refried instead of black beans"), I swear he exchanged a look with the waiter. Later, I saw him clench his teeth as I pushed bits of chicken that looked suspiciously undercooked to the "no" section of my plate. Then he sighed loudly when I wouldn't try a bite of his mole enchilada. Needless to say, cute vet never called again.
Men don't like picky eaters. Dining out, like sex, should be a sensual, indulgent experience. Get too fussy at the table (dressing on the side) and they think you're high-maintenance in the bedroom. It's no wonder, then, that when men get a glimpse of my extensive food rule book — nothing spicy, no condiments, no red meat or seafood, no mixing of sauces — they flee.
I've always been this way. When I was a kid, my worried parents asked my pediatrician why the list of foods I wouldn't eat was longer than the list of ones I would. He told them it was just a phase. Only it wasn't.
As an adult, I like to think of my eating peccadilloes as an endearing quirk, like a too-loud laugh. For men, however, they're an unequivocal turnoff. So I came up with a foolproof system to avoid the gastro-judgments: I insist on taking the new guy to my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, whose menu I've already vetted. I've taken my last seven dates there. Compulsive? Maybe. Calculated? Definitely. But it's a relief to order food freely, confidently, even wantonly — to be able to flirt shamelessly over a romantic dinner without scrutinizing every bite. Yeah, I choreograph the dinner, but once that's over, I'm open to suggestions.
Did You Know? 40% of women will order dessert at a restaurant only if someone else does.
FROM HIS SIDE OF THE TABLE
Josh Radnor plays the lovelorn architect Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother. Turns out, his single-guy shtick on the show isn't all that different from his real-life hunt for the perfect woman. Here, Josh decodes the dinner menu, revealing what he really thinks about how women eat on the first date:
Filet mignon: "Either she thinks I'm rich, or she's anemic."
Garlicky food: "I love garlic, and I don't mind kissing someone who's had a ton of it. Raw onions are a different story."
Bacon cheeseburger: "She knows more about sports than I do."
Salad, dressing on the side: "She's either a control freak or a wilted-lettuce hater."
Pad Thai: "She's not that adventurous — it's the sweet-and-sour chicken of Thai food."
Onion rings: "She better gimme one."
Dessert: "When a man says, 'Let's share a few desserts,' he's automatically getting to third base.
Full disclosure: I've pulled this move."
HUNGRY FOR APPROVAL
The Best Face Masks for Every Skin Type and Concern
Oily skin? Need a glow? Want hydration? We have you covered.
By Samantha Holender
Is the Humble Bar of Soap the Future of Beauty?
Bars, powders, and concentrates are the beauty world’s latest obsession. Here's why everyone's going "waterless."
By Deanna Pai
Laptop Backpacks That Provide Both Fashion and Function
Stylish, take-anywhere backpacks that fit your laptop (and everything else, too).
By Julia Marzovilla
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe