Sometimes I'll be seated at a 4 person table when I visit a restaurant with one other person. When on a first romantic date with someone, what is the etiquette as to whether I should sit beside them or across from them?

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    I don't think anyone here can or should speak for all of Western Culture. Mind narrowing this down a bit so it doesn't get closed?
    – Summer
    Feb 17, 2019 at 20:51
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    @savage Like bruglesco said, speaking for all of western culture is a bit broad. Perhaps if you could specify what country you are in, we'd be able to provide a bit better of an answer related to where you are.
    – Rainbacon
    Feb 18, 2019 at 0:14
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    ps. I'm not too thrilled about questions being heavily edited like this. I understand this is a Beta, but keep in mind that it can feel like a big put-down to your users.
    – Savage
    Feb 18, 2019 at 8:56
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    @Savage an edit is never meant to hurt any feelings, just to prevent it from being closed. And like others have said: could you specify a bit more? Dating may be not so different, but restaurants and etiquette may differ across countries (also in how much people value proper etiquette or are offended by a lack of it). Can you clarify a bit more what kind of restaurants these are (fast-food, budget, super fancy?) and a country?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Feb 18, 2019 at 13:52
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    Since this whole section is a beta and we're exploring what works, it's fair to say that "interpersonal skills" is going to be quite hard to narrow down towards definitive answers, and I think the moderators will need to give a lot more leeway than they do on other sections like software development. Regardless of how much you narrow it down, you're still going to be expressing an opinion, and that's all users are going to be asking for. You're asking for more specifics, but the moderators made the question even more general by removing "in Western culture".
    – Savage
    Feb 18, 2019 at 15:43

3 Answers 3


Generally, at least in Western culture, you'll sit across from your date. You can verify this by checking out a wide array of romantic movies. I can't recall any where the couple sat side by side leaving the two seats opposite them empty. It makes sense this way because on a first date you are probably watching your date's reactions pretty closely to see how things are going.

The other data point I'd add is that when I show up to a restaurant with my wife and am seated at a four person table, the wait staff always seats us opposite each. They don't ask, they just pull away the two extra place settings.

I've spent most of my life in the USA but have traveled some in western Europe so this isn't strictly a USA custom.

  • Actually I have seen some movies/episodes of tv shows, specifically detailing the awkwardness/unpleasantness of sitting next to each other.
    – AsheraH
    Feb 18, 2019 at 6:25
  • I watched a movie last night where the couple sat next to each other, and since I've done that before, it got me wondering. Maybe it made for better camera angles? I did it on or two dates because it felt a bit more personal than sitting across, but it did feel strange leaving half the table open.
    – Savage
    Feb 18, 2019 at 8:51

In the United States, it's typically expected that you sit facing your date when it's just you two; especially on the first one.

The reason for this decision is so you can converse face-to-face, making it more personal. You'll be able to view their expressions and really take in all the good stuff like body language. This is really important on the first date specifically because it's an imperative time to start knowing if this is a person you'd like to see for the foreseeable future.

Body language and facial expression is so important to human interaction; sitting aside them will only make it difficult to observe this. A table with four seats might seem kinda awkward, but the technique still applies because you want that interaction.

  • Looking face-to-face is a good argument, although you could argue that sitting along-side is more personal. Maybe too personal for a first date?
    – Savage
    Feb 18, 2019 at 8:54

Might be personal preferrence, but something to consider: it depends on the table layout. On many occasions I got sit on a round dinner table. In such situations, if you sit on the chair next to your dates one, you sit in like a 90 degree angle to each other. That setup allows for a regular conversation, where you can look into each others face, but also gives you the chance to be a little closer to your date if things go well. This advide is especially important (to me) when going out and having some drinks for example, instead of dinner.

Otherwise I totally agree with the answers mentioned before.

  • Also, if it's a very large square table then it's probably better to sit closer
    – Savage
    Feb 18, 2019 at 9:05
  • @Savage Yes, that is pretty much the same.
    – Suimon
    Feb 18, 2019 at 9:08

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