Why would it not be a good idea?
Disagree with the consensus. You're kind of in a catch-22 with this. Having the arm of a man who's not used to offering it is more awkward and more stress than just walking normally. Also, depending on your age and more local mores, it may be more touching than she's prepared for for a first date.
So it is a maybe.
Is it your first date with her?
No. Do not offer her your arm. That comes off awkward and a bit sophomoric, like a teenager fumbling at a panty girdle after the prom.
IF you get the sense that she is comfortable with you, after the date is on a bit, you reach across your body with the outside outside hand, while barely gesturing the inside arm forward the tiniest bit, gently but naturally take her inside hand into yours and smoothly, quickly, place the blade side of her hand into your elbow just so that when you bend your arm it does not close onto her hand, let your free arm swing back to it's natural position, and place your now woman laden hand into your pocket. Do this smoothly, gently, without looking at her or your hands/arms, and do not even acknowledge it in your facial expression or voice. It works best if you are also speaking at the time that you do it and you do not change your line of conversation as you are speaking.
#1. She happily accepts the gesture, leans into you a little almost as if to cuddle, smiles an almost giddy giggle kind of smile and will actually use her other hand to kind of secure the position of her hand within you arm.
In this case, you sir are the man of the hour and the date has been a home run. As this is a first date, this is also a good time to start winding the date down and calling it an evening. This sort of move is good for walking her back to her car, that sort of thing.
#2. She accepts the gesture, but makes no response, either way. This is usually followed by her finding a reason to take her arm back within a few moments. This means you are probably okay, but the chemistry is not really there and this will probably be your only date. It is however, worth the try for a second date, but you are on shakey ground.
#3. She refuses the gesture and immediately breaks contact.
This means you did something terribly amiss, she is entirely NOT charmed by you, and it's time for everyone to go home.
The length of Michael's instructions, which I'd have to contemplate longer to decide if they're good, illustrate my it-takes-practice caution. I know some families where the young men grew up practicing with their mothers and sisters.
Now if we all agreed to use the same signaling book dating would be soooooo much easier. Can we all find some national book to a agree to? Then we can play neo-Victorian signaling games!!!
I do mean this with some sarcasm, but Mr. Denny I don't direct it at you in particular.
I understand where you are coming from, I however don't trust that any particular person will necessarily follow your logic on the matter in the moment. The person may be confused by the gesture if they are not used to seeing it. Heck for all I know it may be rude in some culture. My point is even if there is a refusal it may not spell the end of the date.
As I debrief my wedding, I'm wishing one could do something similar for them. But navigating conflicting mores of our cosmopolitan societies is the price we pay for not having to churn our own butter and things like AoM.
I'm wishing one could do something similar for them. But navigating conflicting mores of our cosmopolitan societies is the price we pay for not having to churn our own butter and things like AoM.
That is in point, part of the notion behind certain behaviors when we date. While there are no shortage of hyper feminist, short haired denim clad semi-heterosexual ladies who date like it's one half job interview and one half argument, most Women would rather have (and enjoy getting when it happens) a Man who cuts through the crap. Politely, gently, gentlemanly (which is now a word) take charge.
The taking of a Lady's hand unto your arm does this in a very suave and unobtrusive way, as well as breaks the barrier of physical contact in a manner that is not overbearing or overtly sexual. It psychologically sends a signal that he is in charge and that she can trust him to be so. Which is exactly what most Women hope to have in a Man one day.
In short ... act like you're secure enough not to have to ask this question.