The other night, a guy I kinda liked took me out for dinner. As we entered the famous restaurant, there was definitely a good vibe in the air – the evening seemed promising. My date let me follow the Maitre D’ first, because he’s a gentleman, and because he wanted to check out my ass. All is good and well until I see where she is leading us – a low table with high, rickety bar stools, in the middle of the room in what seems to be a roundabout for waiters and guests to get through the restaurant. This table allows for zero privacy and my vision of the evening crashes right then and there. How are we supposed to have a romantic dinner on chairs that resemble some type of balancing act from the circus? How am I supposed to gracefully eat my food, if I have to bend over like the bloody Hunchback of Notre Dame every time I lean in for a bite? He can forget about PDA: this table is a dead zone.  Sorry man, you’ve just been cock blocked by a restaurant.

But shame on those who give up! Through some prying and manipulation, we managed to find out that there was in fact other seating options available. Seating options that could make us feel less like illegal immigrants in a war zone and more like two hawt people on a hawt date.

She leads us to a separate alcove of the restaurant. We now enter a room, or should I say a Secret Garden, that looks like Cupid himself has had a play at interior decorating; a sophisticated, hidden, love nest. Where the other table seemed busy, loud, hectic – giving off a stressed energy – this place is quieter, with good music at a tasteful volume. Normal tables situated at perfect distance from one another, and of course perfect lighting. Game on!

This got me thinking about how the sheer presentation of a room can influence your feelings and your mood – Feng Shui, if you will.  For over 5000 years, the belief that we can affect our surrounding atmosphere through strategic architecture and interior design to achieve positive forces in our lives has been a prominent in the Chinese philosophical system. Feng means wind and Shui means water – these two elements are thought to have associations with good health. In short, good Feng Shui means good luck and fortune, and bad Feng Shui means bad luck, or: you’re fucked.

The thing to remember here is that the decoration doesn’t necessarily have to be overly romantic: this is all about the dynamics of the room: is this a space that makes you feel welcomed, happy, sensual? Here is a little checklist to ensure you’ve got a good setup for a date.

  1. Seating arrangement. How should you sit? If you want to be chivalrous, I suggest you let him/her get the “good seat” – depending on the setting, this varies immensely of course. If this is a date between a male and a female, and the table is situated against a wall, I advise you let the lady have the seat against the wall. Even better if this seat is a sofa! This will make her feel safe and cocooned, as opposed to having her back to the rest of the restaurant, which can leave her feeling exposed. She will also be able to look around the restaurant, giving her a feeling of not being ‘trapped’. If you want to come off as a protector, or you want to instill a sense of security for your lover, you will take the ‘vulnerable’ seat. Also, let’s not forget the obvious implication a sofa has – a sofa is practically a bed, no?
  2. Lighting. I cannot exaggerate how important this is. I would almost say it’s a number one priority – I’ve practically ditched guys over bad lighting. In bad lighting. I mean, it just casts a… bad light on things? Your lady needs to feel that her looks are displayed to their full advantage – this will also help create a more intimate mood. You want to avoid fully lit, canteen style restaurants – for your libidos to thrive, go for a little darker, maybe candlelit. No crazy color flashes – save that for the rave.
  3. Good acoustics. How are you going to get to know each other if you can’t hear each other? Shouting is not very sexy. Good background music can be a great help to fill any uncomfortable silences.
  4. The Colour Scheme. In Feng Shui, classic restaurant colors are white, red, yellow, green. Now, I’m not suggesting you take your date to McDonald’s, but it might be good to choose a place with colors that provide a good energy flow and positive vibe to the room. Many restaurants nowadays are very dark , and while this can be great to create a cozy atmosphere, be aware of places that are too ‘dungeon like’. You’re not trying to incarcerate someone. Right?
  5. Good food. This may seem obvious, but it’s actually not. Bad quality food can be a real downer and no one wants a downer on a date. Make sure you know your date’s preferences – if she’s a vegetarian, don’t take her to a steakhouse. You might just end up having wild discussions on the politics of meat, and less wild times in the sheets.
  6. The Table. It shouldn’t be too narrow – this might feel a little intrusive and too intimate, especially on a first date. In order for both of you to feel comfortable in your private space, you can’t be too squished together. Equally bad is a table that’s too big – this will disconnect you from each other. Should you find yourself at an obscenely long distance from your intended lover, whatever you do, don’t go for the hand-hold. This is not an ancient torturing device where your lady needs to stretch their arms to full capacity.
  7. Window seating. This can be good as it allows for people watching and small talk about what goes on outside, and perhaps a good option during daytime. However, in Feng Shui it is said that large windows can steal away energy – you might be better of further inside the restaurant, where you feel more ‘cocooned’. As with the near-date-disaster previously mentioned, you don’t want to feel You should only have eyes for each other.
  8. Your Playground. A place where you know everybody. Everyone from the chef to all the other guests know you here. This is you and your social circles watering hole, if you will. This could work in your favor, as it may highlight how cool you are, how many friends you have etc. and if you share the same social circle, fine. But it can also be seen as a sign that if you find him/her boring, you have other options in the restaurant that you can entertain yourself with instead, you’d rather be people – watching than watching Her. It can be overwhelming for someone to meet lots of your friends at once too early. It’s also bad if you or your date actually want to keep this a secret. For the secret lovers, I recommend somewhere incognito. How about that dungeon?
  9. Phones. Last but not least – keep the electronics off the table. If you are serious about this date, at least have the decency to leave your phone alone for the evening. Insta-grind, Facebook and Alexicat can wait – focus on the conversation instead. Having a phone on the table is not only considered bad Feng Shui (and manners) – you also run the risk of embarrassing yourself. Do you really want your screen to light up with your latest Tinder match, whilst in the process of locking this other person down? Hopefully, this is the match you’ve been waiting for.