- stop and breathe. when you talk too much, you're not listening at all. at that point, the other person on the date loses interest because you're only interested in talking about yourself. this guy barely paused to let his date talk, and immediately jumped in as soon as she finished speaking. isn't the point of a date to decide if you like this person sitting across from you? wouldn't letting her speak often show your interest more than yammering about every job you've ever had, and stuttering when you finally do ask her a question about what she does?
- pay attention. if your date tells you she's a vegetarian after you've ordered, don't launch into a story about how you and your buddies used to go to golden corral to study in college. (for the uninitiated, golden corral is to steakhouses what ramen noodles are to asian cuisine). it's been my experience that this tends to turn most vegetarians off. they're ok with meat-eaters, just so long as they don't have to hear all about it.
- manners. elbows off the table, napkin in your lap. basics, right? let's take it one step further. if/when your food comes out first, DO NOT begin eating before your date's arrives. i teach this to my second graders, how did a military officer miss that bit of etiquette from his mama in west texas or elsewhere?
- restraint. just as you wouldn't get rip-roaring drunk on a first date (or any for that matter), don't gorge yourself with food either. i know i've been guilty of this one before, but i'm learning. however, when a heaping plate of food comes out, i've never loudly proclaimed, "wow! that's a lot of food...and i'm going to eat every last bit of it!" (remember, that date's food had not yet come out). a wing-eating contest might be attractive to some, but gluttony is not one of the seven deadly sins that i generally look for in a mate! save some for later, take it to go (usually poor form), and give it to the first hungry person that asks for it. that should score some brownie points. worked on me...
i don't mean this to be an exhaustive list by any means. just humorous. lord knows i'm not any sort of dating guru! as pop told me recently, you don't ever really want to get "good" at dating. the ultimate goal is to stop dating, right?