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Dear God, Grant Me One Good Date.

November 27, 2011
Bad dates are rampant, and the only people we have to blame are ourselves. We just don’t think outside the box. For a lot of us, just steeling ourselves to make a move is is hard enough. It’s no wonder we go for the low hanging fruit; the standard dates like dinner and a movie. We end up with a history of rotten dates, boring dates, horrific dates, and dates that were just okay. We blame it on incompatibility, or we blame the other person. Once in awhile we might blame ourselves, but that’s no fun at all. We never stop to think that it could be the date itself that undermined us.
awkward dinner date

We've all been on this date before.

Incompatibility be damned, you should still be able to go out and enjoy yourself with someone who is not the love of your life. So why isn’t this happening more often?

Problem #1: Too much talking, or rather, too much pressure to talk. If you’re out to dinner with someone and you don’t hit it off right away, you find yourself eyeing the door, bracing yourself for the long night ahead of you. For a first date, you never want to choose something where the sole activity is “talking to each other.”

Pitfalls include: dinner, picnics, long walks, or scenic drives. Dinner is standard, picnics are cute, long walks are romantic, and they’re all great for second, third, fourth, fifth dates. On the first date, they put too much pressure on both parties to be interesting, witty, and engaging. If you’re naturally witty and engaging, congratulations and I don’t know why you’re reading this; you probably do fine on first dates. For a lot of other people, however, it takes practice, and can be extremely draining if the other person is feeling the strain too. Like I said, If you don’t hit it off immediately, you’ve got a long and very mediocre night ahead of you, at best.

Problem #2: Not enough talking; dates where, at the end of the night, you’re hardly any more familiar with each other than you were when you started.

awkward movie date

This is not a date, this is lame.

Pitfalls include: movies, concerts, and most sporting events. Any date where your attention is entirely on something else may as well not be a date at all. They might seem like a step up from the No Thought Required dinner plans, but they’re still fairly standard, and are all the more confusing because you might think you enjoyed the date, when it turns out you actually only enjoyed watching your favorite sports team play.

Beware of the double-threat, Dinner and a Movie date. First you sit in silence for two hours, afraid to laugh because your date might think you’re a low-brow moron, and then it’s like having to start the date all over again when you go to dinner afterwards. If first dates are difficult and awkward, why would you want to have what amounts to two first dates in one night, with the same person? You’re just piling on the problems.

The most important thing to do when orchestrating an interesting and original date is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. The date you propose should be something you think the other person will enjoy. This is a trade off, because if they agree, you’re still getting what you want, with is to spend time with them. You have to sweeten the deal by showing you thought about the other person’s preferences.

For instance: ladies, you might love to spend the afternoon glazing personalized coffee mugs at the ceramics shop, but statistically speaking, a male date would be none too thrilled with this prospect. The pool hall or the bowling alley would probably be more enticing, and not just because he’ll have a better view of your backside. Spacial prowess has been linked directly to testosterone, and most men enjoy the opportunity to exercise their skills. On the other hand, gentlemen, estrogen has been directly linked to visual acumen and fine motor skills, so while those detail oriented activities may not be your forte, women tend to enjoy them. Now knowing that a woman might love to glaze a coffee mug, why not take Plaster Funhouse off the list of things you’ve outgrown, and add it to your date repertory?

date ideas

That's more like it.

Both the pool hall and the ceramics shop offer absorbing activities that don’t require all of your attention all the time, leaving you the opportunity to get to know each other casually. A shared activity gives you something to talk about when you can’t quite recall that riveting and hilarious anecdote you have stashed somewhere in the back of your mind. When the pressure is off you to be the evenings entertainment, it’s easier to relax and be yourself. PLus, you might get a coffee mug out of it, so it’s win-win.

In the comments on “For Dudes Who can’t Get Chicks,” a few questions came up that led to generating some different ideas for dates that combine activity with opportunity for discourse.

date ideas

Go ahead, get fancy.

1. Horse Racing. A lot of people have never been to a race track. Find one nearby, and make a day of it. You can generally bet as low as two dollars, and then you both have an invested interest in the outcome of the days activities.

2. Local Tourist Activities. There might be a hiking trail, or white water rafting, or parasailing nearby. Odds are you’ve never bothered to check these things out, but they can be great for dates, depending on the other person’s preferences.

date ideas

Good wine won't go amiss.

3. Wine Tasting: just enough of a variation on the dinner theme to be interesting for dates who might refer something more sedate. There’s no reason to try to impress each other with your knowledge; just enjoy the opportunity to enjoy some delicious wines and learn something. On the plus side, a bit of wine will loosen your tongue, which is great for conversation. Just don’t overdo it.

4. Team Poker. Rustle up a couple friends, turn it into a double/triple date, and team up to try to clean the other couples out. A twenty dollar buy-in is cheap compared to fine dining, and like with the races, you both have an invested interest in the outcome. Not only that, but you have a reason to sit side by side and whisper conspiratorially. Not many dates offer that, actually, but with this date, it’s required.

By making the date fun, not awkward, and mutually enjoyable, you increase your chances of connecting with that person.  Even if they’re not the one, at least you still had fun.


Your turn: If someone proposed any of these dates, do you think you would be more inclined to take a chance and say yes?



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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Gillian Colbert permalink
    November 28, 2011 5:04 am

    Well, I’ve been off the market for 20 years, so I find it hard to conceptualize dating at all, but these sound interesting. They certainly show some thought going into the date rather than just copping out on an old standby.

    • November 28, 2011 2:35 pm

      Hey, they can still be great fun even for couples who are well quit of the dating scene!

  2. Liz Jones permalink
    November 28, 2011 11:21 am

    This is an excellent list. I would totally go for these dates over the typical “dinner and a movie” date. While I like eating and I like movies, that is such a lame date idea. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to spend an hour sitting across from someone I barely know, being forced to hold a conversation. Especially if I don’t find him attractive! Dinner is a much better date after you’ve gotten to know someone better and feel comfortable with them. But even then, I would probably rather do something else. I have had good dinner dates, but that had way more to do with the person I was on the date with, and it wasn’t the first date then, either, so I already knew I liked him.

    I  have to disagree with you, though, on the matter of concerts and sporting events. I would definitely be up for those as dates, and I think they are good options. At a concert, you’re not forced to talk the whole time, so there’s no pressure there, but you generally get to the venue at least an hour before, providing a good opportunity for conversation, and you can chat between sets. Probably the best date I’ve been on was at a concert, and it was our first date. There was minimal awkwardness, and we got to enjoy some awesome music. It’s probably better if you go to see a musician you both enjoy, but that you both aren’t absolutely crazy about so it keeps the event more low key. And sports events are a bit trickier, but are still a good option, I think, but only if you both enjoy a sport but aren’t die-hard fans of it or the teams you’ll be seeing so that neither person gets pissed when they miss a play or something. Then you can enjoy being in a casual public setting but still be able to have a conversation, while not having to put your full attention on the other person the entire time. Not that these are better than a more non-typical date approach, but I do think they’re pretty good options among the typical date ideas. 

    However, there’s a bit of a dilemma when it comes to online dating, I’ve found. When I meet a guy for the first time, I don’t want to commit to a long date, so I’ve been going on coffee dates. It’s nice and casual, but it’s pretty lackluster, and still seems to drag on for longer than I’d like. Though it hasn’t been an issue to keep conversation going for the duration of the dates (not that they’ve been good dates), it would still be nice to do something different, and maybe I could break this bad date cycle. I’m at a loss for what would be a good alternative for a first meeting kind of date, though. What do you think? 

    • November 28, 2011 4:26 pm

      Exactly – good conversation depends a lot on who you’re with. For a first date, you can’t rely just on talking.

      Fair point on concerts and sporting events; if you know you’re both into an artist or team, then they can be fun, but I put them in the danger category because they’re passive. If you don’t hit it off with your date, it’s too easy to just switch off and ignore them in favor of whatever you’re watching, and then that’s no date at all. In that situation, you’ll probably enjoy yourself less than you would have on your own because of this awkward interloper you haven’t bothered to get to know. I think, like dinner, walks, movies, etc., it’s an activity better saved for date two or three.

      I wavered over whether or not to include coffee dates in the Problem #1 category and eventually decided against it, because they’re great for casual meet-ups, and they don’t have to take a long time. They have the same risks as dinner dates, but less pronounced because you can easily cut them short. If you find that your coffee dates are dragging on for longer than you’d like, I think your best bet is schedule them early, and make sure you’re otherwise booked that afternoon. That way you can honestly say you have to get going. Don’t lie about this, because it’ll show in your delivery and it’s just lame and unethical. Schedule a manicure, or lunch with a girlfriend; any sort of prior engagement will do. If you end up liking the guy and the date seems too short, then all you have to do is schedule another, better date with him for another time. Plus, that gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you’re interested in getting to know him better, so he knows where he stands with you, and since it would be the second date, technically, you’re clear to break out the concerts and sports events!

  3. November 30, 2011 10:09 am

    I love playing pool so this one’s a no-brainer =]

  4. December 22, 2011 12:15 am

    The title of your article could be my first new year’s resolution.
    Oh well, perhaps not a real resolution, just another hopeless prayer -.-

    Another great post, Iris!

    • December 22, 2011 9:45 am

      Thanks, Jersey!

      Even armed with new date ideas, it can still be tough to find someone worth trying them with. There must be a solution for this…I have to think it over.

      I’m eagerly awaiting the end of the Christmas Panic, so I can get back into the spirit of blogging!

  5. December 23, 2011 2:18 pm

    I enjoy your blog, you always provide a great read with just the perfect amount of comedy. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and you can find the details on my page.
    Please continue to share your thoughts with us and congratulations!

    • December 24, 2011 1:26 pm

      Wow, thank you! Likewise, you always provide an interesting, thought-provoking read, and congrats on your own nomination!

  6. December 30, 2011 8:39 am

    Another great post! Loved your suggestions!

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