Restaurant settings can set up a nerve-racking experience for first dates, whether it’s for lunch, a snack, coffee, dinner, or dessert. Especially for people who struggle with social anxiety, eating, or merely sitting face-to-face while meeting someone for the first time sets the environment for significant vulnerability. Add to this the issues of who orders, who pays, do I have food in my teeth, etc…a lot of potential awkwardness, unless you’re skilled and seasoned at dating.
Sitting at a table is basically the setup for a meeting or an interview. This nearly automatically signals a person to be on their best behavior, which is already a first-date issue without it being amplified by this setup. The anxiety is also magnified if you grew up in a home where meals were filled with manner criticism: “Chew with your mouth closed”, “Get your elbows off the table”, etc. Then there’s the problem of how much eye contact is enough or too much? For the dating expert, these may not be issues, but for the novice or the socially anxious, sitting in a restaurant with a first date presents many possible difficulties to overcome.