This is a response to VC 32 Roger 1 ("Dating Advice")...
I do not claim any mastery of this most difficult artform, but over the span of my dating career I have formed a few opinions.
1. As for flowers: often a good move even on a first date. Flowers have a powerful effect on (almost all) women that is (to almost all men) quite surprising and, as the embodiment of affection and appreciation of beauty, they are (almost always) appreciated.
My one caveat: flowers may also convey a certain formality that can be disasterous if the woman is skittish and/or the first date is not supposed to be a "date." Even here, it's not so much the gift itself as the way in which it is given; flowers can be given casually if the giver has the charm and wit to carry it off.
2. "Finding" compliments. Although Roger's prescription of "three compliments" seems a bit forced, it is also true that we tend to like people who seem to like us, and compliments can be a way to start that wheel a turn'n. But here once again it is not the gift itself but the way in which it is given. All compliments must be absolutely and utterly sincere. An insecere compliment, however well-intentioned, will sink an evening like a torpedo. If you can't find at least three good and true things to say about your date you should say good night and spare both parties any further injury.
3. Exchange information. Of course. This is, after all, one of the primary functions of a first date. The danger here is in being too zealous or impatient in your questioning. Your date should not be made to feel that she is being tested or interrogated. The best way to approach this task is be a good listener. And to be a good listener you must reveal as well as listen, so that a balance is maintained. My rule is no movies on a first date. You need to provide an atmosphere that will, at some point, foster genuine conversation.
To these common sensical observations I would add that a first date should be fun. This is not always easy, especially if either of you are nervous or burdened with expectations of any kind. Nevertheless, this rule is paramount. Whatever else may happen, if the date was fun for both parties a second date will surely follow, if it was not, no amount of flowers or compliments or conversation can rescue the relationship.
This, of course, only scratches the surface. I have not even addressed the school of thought which says the first date is a necessary evil which must be simply endured in order to get on with it. Nor have I surveyed the anatomy of the date from its opening gambits to it's perilous endgame. And I am very curious to hear advice from the women in the group.
One practical question for the road. After the first date is safely completed, and assuming it was not a complete disaster in the estimation of our hypothetical 30 year old man, how long should he wait before calling for a second date?