Eating to Score a Second Date

Everyone has an opinion on what and how we eat.

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.


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."


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