How many days has it been since I’ve reminded you that I’m not a relationship expert? At least two or three, right? OK, well then it’s time I mentioned it again.
I’m not a relationship expert. I’m not even sure I know what that phrase means. What are the qualifications?
I bring this up now because I’m about to give you some advice. Don’t think of it as expert advice. Consider it hard won wisdom. Because, let’s face it, I’ve been doing this dating thing a long time. I have, actually, learned a few things.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “you only have one chance to make a first impression”. Well, nowhere is that more true than in dating. Sure, there are people who have disastrous first dates but then somehow turn things around. But, in general, a disastrous first date means that your chances with that person are over.
I wish I could give step by step guidelines on where to go and what to say so that you’d be guaranteed to have a good first date, each and every time. I can’t. No one can. It’s just not possible. Bad dates are unavoidable, kind of like death and taxes. But with the right planning you can be sure to have a lot fewer of them.
Key to planning your first date is realizing that your goal for the date should be pretty simple: you want to get to know each other just a little bit better and decide if you’d like to have another date. Note – I didn’t say, to get laid. That could happen, sure. But I firmly believe that if you go into your date with that as your goal then your head is in the wrong place. And, needless to say, if that’s your goal, these suggestions probably aren’t for you.
Let’s be honest, it really doesn’t take that much time to figure out if you’d like to get to know someone better. Plus, a smart dater realizes that it takes a lot of first dates to meet a person you’d like to have a relationship with. So, it makes sense to plan a short date, one that could be over in as little as 30 minutes if the two of you aren’t hitting it off.
Below are my Top 7 First Date Ideas
- Meet for coffee or some other hot beverage. Try, if at all possible, to avoid the major chains unless you really do stop by Starbucks on a regular basis.
- Go for a walk. I do this a lot during the summer. Some of my best first dates have been for leisurely walks in the park.
- Go out for ice cream/gelato. There’s a place I love to go that has indoor seating and another that’s walking distance from some pleasant park benches. Sure this sounds old-fashioned, but I love ice cream and on a warm summer night this is pretty much my ideal date.
- Go sightseeing in your own town. I’ve lived in NYC for most of my life but there are dozens of touristy things I’ve never done or haven’t done since I was a kid. Depending on the season and my date’s interests I might suggest something random; for example, “riding the Staten Island Ferry, going to the San Gennaro Festival, visiting the Intrepid.
- Check out an art gallery or a small museum. I don’t recommend planning a visit to a place with a large collection, just something small and easy to explore in 30 minutes.
- Turn a shared hobby into a shopping trip. If you both like to cook – go to a gourmet food store; Into reading – hit your town’s best book store; You’re both clotheshorses – hit the boutiques.
- You can always just meet for a drink. Find a bar, lounge, pub or club that you like and that you feel comfortable in. Make sure it’s not so crowded and/or loud that you can’t hear your date and vice versa.
Each of these ideas can be expanded on so that your date can be as long as you’d like it to be. If you’re enjoying your walk, you can suggest stopping in somewhere for a drink or a bite to eat. If you’ve met for coffee you can follow it up with a walk or a meal. Drinks can easily turn into dinner. Planning a short date doesn’t restrict you to a 30 minute window, but it does protect you against having to spend long periods of time with someone you don’t actually like.
A version of this post first appeared on http://www.alexshalman.com as Top 5 First Date Strategies in early March.
Tags: apartment, coffee, coffee date, first date, first date ideas