THE BLOG
02/21/2011 02:32 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Dinner Dates: The Top 10 Dos and Don'ts

Intimate dinners are the cornerstone of romance. But what unsuspecting daters don't realize is that these meals are also a minefield when it comes to success or failure in the mating game. There are plenty of dinnertime deal breakers and makers that are lurking amongst the saltshakers and the salad bowls. In fact, the simple dining date is fraught with more dangers than a paratrooper's drop zone.

Babe Scott, self-declared manthropologist and author of "Delicious Dating," interviewed more than 200 men and women about dining turn-ons and turn-offs. Her tips will help ensure your deportment at the dinner table makes your romance dazzle rather than detonate. The following is a list of the most unappetizing tableside tactics along with the most enticing ones.

  1. Don't eat with the speed of an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. The way you dine is a metaphor for the way you make love so make sure you don't do so in a way that brings to mind a lower primate, or in the case of us gals, an epicurean version of Lorena Bobbit. Do eat slowly and sensuously and make eye contact. Remember that dining together is a form of foreplay.
  2. Don't help yourself to someone else's plate. Even if you have a serious case of entrée envy, ask first. You don't appreciate it when your neighbor walks into your yard and pilfers your barbecue or banana chair, so don't swipe your dining partner's side plates. Do suggest sharing dishes. This is a great way to bond.
  3. Don't talk about unpalatable topics like your latest case of hemorrhoids, a cankerous root canal or your cleansing program of colonic irrigations. Stay away from medical-related topics and anything that involves excreta. Dining together is all about evoking poetry rather than bodily processes. Do talk about things you are passionate about.
  4. Don't forget to eat. Men particularly hate it when women chase their food around a plate or just order a salad. However, women can also feel put out when their date barely touches their plate. There is nothing lonelier than going out to dine with someone and eating solo. There may as well be tumbleweeds blowing across the table. Do take pleasure in the meal and seek the delicious.
  5. Don't be rude to wait staff and do your Mussolini impersonation, or in the case of women, your Kathy Bates in "Misery" impression. If you are arrogant at the table, then it's a pretty sure bet that you will be away from it. Do be courteous to the staff and your date so you can be seen as a considerate person.
  6. Don't forget basic etiquette. You don't want your date to think you went to finishing school in the Amazon. Scraping cutlery and eating with mouths open were two of the most reported culinary crimes. Remember the whole object of dining together is about seducing their imagination so dine accordingly. Do dine with a little flirtation and finesse.
  7. Don't turn the date into a job interview. This is something women are often more guilty of than guys. It's about forging a connection not conducting an inquisition. Try and find mutual subjects that you are both interested in. Also, don't leap ahead to your wedding dreams or let slip about your frozen embryos. Do let the conversation flow, be in the moment and give your feelings time to marinate.
  8. Don't get sloppy drunk. Unless your date happens to be David Hasselhoff, this is a real turn-off. Remember, you are trying to seduce them and hiccoughing into their ear while you repeat the same story is not going to have that effect. Do savor your beverages and sip them slowly and thoughtfully rather than through a straw.
  9. Don't be a Svengali or a suffragette with a serviette. Don't commandeer the date but by the same token be open to making and accepting suggestions, whether this be a menu recommendation or demonstrating a way to eat crab without requiring a spray jacket. Do be receptive to one another's tastes and culinary viewpoints.
  10. Don't refuse dessert. A guy will generally only suggest dessert if the date is going well, so women should try at least a smidgeon. In the same vein, if you really like her, suggest sharing a sweet something. Do recommend sharing a dessert you both enjoy and perhaps even pair the wine. Dessert is the most sensuous part of the meal and symbolic of sharing sweeter moments.

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Babe Scott is the author of "Delicious Dating: The Single Girl's Guide to Decoding Men by Their Wining and Dining Styles," a new book that identifies the 10 Male Food Types and explains what they mean at the table and in bed. This one-time magazine maven is a self-declared manthropologist and culinary Carrie Bradshaw. Visit her at BabeScott.com, and follow her online at Twitter.com/DeliciousDating. Delicious Dating is available at Amazon.com, bn.com and other online retailers.