Thoughts From a Bartender: How Has Technology Changed The First Date?

  • Posted on: April 5th, 2012 by

woman at bar

By: Lindsay Hopper

We live in a world where technology is everywhere. I remember when my family got our first computer over twelve years ago and now I basically walk around everyday with a computer in my purse. It’s in our cars, our finances, our work and our entertainment. And like everything, it definitely has it’s positives but it also has its negatives.

One thing you notice when you work at a bar is how technology has changed the dating scene as well. When I first started bartending five years ago, yes, there were cell phones, but people didn’t have the world at their fingers the way they do now. At least once a night I’ll get a couple at the bar that might as well be texting each other rather than sitting next to each other because they are so glued to their phones. Nobody talks anymore. It’s a lot easier to text, even if you’re driving, because you don’t have to deal with all the filler talk that happens during an actual phone call. But have you ever stopped to think of the problems that relying on technology rather than actual communication can have?

Last week, a woman came in alone and sat down at the bar. She looked around nervously, like she was in a hurry. I greeted her and asked her what she wanted to drink. She responded in a very endearing, but frantic, way and told me that she was meeting a guy she met through a friend and it was their first date so she wanted a quick shot to take the edge off before he got there. She does the shot, calms down a little bit and I started chatting with her. After a few minutes she starts looking at her phone a lot and then makes a comment that she didn’t know if he was going to show. I tried to be reassuring and told her not to worry. She ordered a glass of wine while she waited and slowly starting drinking it.

Twenty minutes go by, the guy still hadn’t shown and you can tell she was starting to freak out. She checked her phone for missed calls or texts and saw nothing, so she ordered a second glass of wine. She was clearly having that moment that anyone who’s ever gone out on a blind (or semi-blind) date has, which is, “are they not going to show? Did they see me and then leave?”

She then orders a third glass of wine after about forty minutes and was getting ready to throw in the towel. She asked where the restroom was, I guided her to it and she asked me to have her check ready for when she got back. As she was disappearing through the dining room, a man walked into the bar in a hurry and asked me if a woman matching her description was there. I told him I was pretty sure she was the woman he was looking for and I pointed through the dining room as she started to walk back to the bar.

A look of relief came over his face. It was her. He said he had been texting her that he was running late and he hadn’t gotten a response so he was worried she had left. He also said he had tried to call her but it kept going straight to voicemail (remember the days when you would just call the restaurant when you were running late?) She got back to the bar and he was genuinely happy to see her. And she was genuinely drunk. Oops.

They stayed to have dinner at the bar but it was definitely not what you could call an enjoyable evening for him. He spent the entire night babysitting her until she could sober up a little. And wouldn’t you know: the minute she sat back down her phone started freaking out! She wasn’t getting service so all her messages weren’t going through and then she got them all at once! All her worrying, stressing and drinking could’ve been avoided and she would have made a much better first impression.

Seriously, think of how different this first date would’ve been if technology hadn’t been involved (this is the part of the television show where they do the “what if” episode.) I feel like if you take away the technological aspect of an interaction, your ability to make a connection is amplified. You’re forced (I use that word lightly) to focus on the person in front of you.

You are more aware of what you like about them, whether or not you have the right kind of chemistry, and if you want to continue to spend time with them. How can you tell if you like someone or not if your mind is literally in another place because you’re texting, or tweeting, or checking your email?

My boyfriend and I have a rule when we go out to dinner: only five minutes of cell phone time the whole meal. So if he wants to check the score of the Lakers game or I’m waiting for an important email, we can sneak a peak at our phones, but only for a maximum of five minutes. It’s actually quite exhilarating. Unplugging yourself and reconnecting with the real world can actually be quite freeing.

~Try it sometime! I dare you.






  • http://www.chiarasays.com Chiara Mazzucco

    I used to be a bartender too and would pour drinks while simultaneously watching couples at the bar. Ridiculous. Easy fail date: someone constantly checking their phone. My hubby and I made the same rule and I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard to put the phone down (I’m a blogger who works online).. I make the effort because I know I feel a million miles away when he can’t stop checking HIS phone. Oh technology. It’s a love-hate. 

About Jennifer

Jennifer Kelton

I have created this blog and social dating community to turn negative dating experiences into positive ones. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what the name implies. It was my own life’s multiple combo plate of bad date experiences that inspired me to create this supportive community. In the midst of my own search […]

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