Sex & Relationships
The 'Girls Gotta Eat' Non-Cheesy Guide to First Dates
“Try acting cute and flirty in a bodysuit that’s wedged too far up.”
Ask someone if they have a first date horror story, and you might get a similar answer to Girls Gotta Eat co-host Rayna Greenberg’s: “He checked every box — all the bad ones.”
As relatable as they are raunchy, the ladies of Girls Gotta Eat (GGE) Ashley Hesseltine and Rayna Greenberg met in 2017 and immediately connected over, as Ashley calls it, the “hellscape of dating.”
Now, unraveling the chaos of modern dating is Rayna and Ashley’s full-time job. The duo launched GGE shortly after meeting, and today they sell out theaters packed with loyal listeners. Their top comedy podcast on dating and relationships covers everything from “fetishes to finances,” snags more than 2 million downloads a month, and features guests like sex therapist and author Emily Morse and comedian Nikki Glaser.
Their advice is never preachy, always honest, and trusted by their fans, checking all the credential boxes — the good kind — on who to turn to for some solid pre-date words of wisdom. The GGE ladies talked to Bustle to do just that:
What’s your pre-date ritual?
Ashley Hesseltine: Bodysuit and jeans with a sneaker or bootie and then a mirror selfie to Rayna for approval, one of our GGE hype playlists — heavy on the Beyoncé and Hot Girl Meg — and one glass of Kim C Sauv B (if you know, you know).
Rayna Greenberg: Reggaeton playlist and a spritz of Michael Kors perfume. I make sure I’m wearing something that makes me feel comfortable. Try acting cute and flirty in a bodysuit that’s wedged too far up inside of you; I dare you. Whatever makes you feel like the best version of yourself — affirmations in the mirror, your lucky thong, or having a *personality* shot — do that.
What’s a perfectly crafted text that ensures you don’t catch yourself a dating app pen-pal and do meet up IRL?
AH: If you’ve traded a few messages and feel like it’s time to sh*t or get off the pot, hit them with a, “So let me know if you want to grab a drink/tacos/pizza sometime!” and they’ll bite (pun intended) — or not. A good way to set yourself up for this early in the convo is to discuss their favorite places for drinks, arcade games, dog parks, whatever, so you can use it later.
Would you say first dates with people you meet organically are better than those from the apps?
AH: I would say that first dates with guys I meet in the wild are approximately 4000x better than app dates. You’ve seen how the person moves, you’ve heard their voice, you know whether you like their vibe or not. There are literally no guarantees with someone you’ve only seen photos of and traded texts with. And, sure, apps are great, and you can absolutely have solid first dates from them, but this is my (very strong) opinion based on experience.
What are your personal blazing-red flags, the kind that make you go, “Uh, check please?” after the first drink?
RG: Remember that someone on a first date is the literal best version of themselves. He has to show up with a positive attitude and be engaging: Solid back-and-forth questions about each other, good eye contact, sarcastic humor, light flirtation. If someone is hyper-negative, doesn't ask me questions, only talks about themselves, is rude to waitstaff, doesn’t confirm the date ahead of time, shows up late — all of that is a big no-no for me. We’ve all been on a date with him, and he isn’t going to get better. Also, the phrase “I’d prefer to just order my own meal and not share.” That’s gonna be a hard no for me.
How do you know when you’re going to hookup with someone on the first date?
RG: I don’t go on a date with any preconceived notions of whether or not I’m going to sleep with someone. If the night is winding down and I’m feeling it — we’re touching, kissing, there’s that crazy sexual energy — I’ll lean in. If you can’t keep your hands off of each other, then go for it! Conversely, it can be really hot to leave wanting more after a sexy make out. The anticipation is a huge turn-on; There is no reason not to wait for a date or two, either. Just do whatever feels right for you at the moment.
Who is supposed to text first after a great first date? Are we always following the 72-hour rule? Should we be following any rules?
AH: Is ANYONE following a 72-hour rule?
RG: They shouldn’t be! We’re both fans of the day after (or f*ck it, the night of) text if you had a good time and the person is remotely interested in seeing you again, and we’d prefer to be on the receiving end of it. If we didn’t hear from someone three days after a date, we’d assume they weren’t into us, and we wouldn’t be into them. Games are for children.
AH: If you haven’t heard from someone a day or two after a date, you can absolutely fire off a text to feel the vibe. We suggest a reference to something that was talked about on the date like an article or meme, and you’ll probably know by their response if they’re interested in continuing things.
Non-sexual turn-ons for the first date that makes you want to come back for the second?
RG: He asks if it’s cool if we just “order a ton of things and split them.”
AH: He has a rescue dog, flirtatiously roasts me, still laughs at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. And I co-sign Rayna on the food splitting.
Date spots — how do you gauge which activity is the best to do first, especially if you don’t know them that well?
RG: Don’t get caught up brainstorming wildly creative activities for a first date. Truthfully, I’m just happy to meet at a bar if I’ve never met the person before, have two margaritas, maybe we order some truffle fries, see if we laugh at the same things. I’ve been stuck on first dates at restaurants/concerts/sporting events and it feels like too much of a commitment. Still, that’s my comfort zone. If yours is a coffee shop, a workout class, or a food festival — do that.
You guys also do a lot of traveling for live shows. Do you ever change your dating tactics according to where you’re staying?
RG: I’ve dated guys from all over the country (shout out to long-distance relationships). There are definitely different expectations about commitment and “rules” in each city. Every single location seems to present a different set of barriers and opportunities. Ask anyone what it’s like to date in their city and they will say “It’s SO HARD for X reason.” Ultimately, what I've learned is that you just have to put yourself out there, be your true self, and hope that you’ll meet the puzzle piece to fit your own.
AH: I co-sign Rayna. Corny puzzle metaphor and all. I dated in Atlanta for 10 years, and have gone on dates in tons of other cities, but nothing tops NYC. Some of the best nights I’ve had have been dates here — rooftop drinks followed by dinner at some awesome spot, then dancing, late-night tacos, and a street makeout. Nothing beats it. And it’s such a fun way to see the city and discover new places.
What’s some general advice you’d give on how to make sure you’re being a good date, too?
RG: Be present, positive, create a balance between asking questions and talking about yourself, don’t take it too seriously, just be yourself.
AH: And remember that you’re hot and awesome and this person is lucky to be out with you.
This interview’s been condensed and edited for clarity.