As dinner out or dinner and a movie are such popular first date ideas, I felt it more interesting to look at the parallels between eating at a restaurant, a common early dating activity, and the actual dating process itself.
You go to a restaurant hungry, with particular expectations of food, service, and atmosphere. These expectations are pre-set, typically based on what you have heard.
You also have preconceived perceptions about your date, based on what you have heard about him or her, and what you know yourself from previous first-hand experience. You also have date expectations, and are going out with particular needs you want met by the person you are spending time with. These can be: companionship, physical attraction, and/or emotional connection.
You may begin your restaurant meal with a drink to quench your thirst. You may order an appetizer to start off with something light and begin exposing your taste buds and stomach to the food and different mixes of salt, and sweet.
On a date, you begin with light conversation, and conversation becomes more intense, or personalized, as the evening goes on.
As you ponder the different options on the menu, you may have a difficult time deciding what you want! You may rationalize your choice based on what else you have eaten that day, weekend, etc.
This may apply to your choice of a date/mate, and what they offer to compliment your personality, etc. Your meal arrives, and this further satisfies your appetite, and ideally compliments your appetizer, and everything else of which you have partaken. Combined with the service, and atmosphere inside the restaurant, you are forming your own opinion of this place based on your individual experience.
Dessert is ultimately a sweet finish that tops off the perfect meal. You feel full, satisfied, and happy yet you will eat again in just a few hours. Just like the ideal date leaves you happy with the experience but ready to do it again in the near future. Especially if you have much in common with your date, and have made a connection, you are looking forward to your next outing and getting to know each other better.
No wonder we go out to eat early in our dating/relationship experiences. In addition to being a wonderful activity to give us quality time to have good discussion with our date, and establish a connection and commonalities, the activity perfectly parallels what is going on in the forging of a relationship.